The plaque erected by the Ontario Heritage Foundation, Ministry of Citizenship and Culture, in front of Osgoode Hall, tells us that:
In 1829-32, the Law Society of Upper Canada erected the east wing of this imposing building. Named after William Osgoode, the province’s first chief justice, the Regency structure housed law courts and judicial offices, and provided accommodation for lawyers and students. It was severely damaged during the six years in which provincial troops were stationed here following the Rebellion of 1837. Plans for its reconstruction were drawn up by Henry Bowyer Lane, an accomplished Toronto architect, and in 1844-46 the west and central portions were erected and the east wing remodelled. In 1857-60 the celebrated architectural firm of Cumberland and Storm rebuilt the centre section. Later extended and renovated, Osgoode Hall remains one of the finest examples of Victorian Classical architecture in Canada.
When the Law Society of Upper Canada purchased six acres of land in 1828, to construct a building to house its offices and educational facilities, including what was to be the province’s only accredited law school, it was just outside of the Town of York. Osgoode Hall, the property was The original building (the east wing) was completed in 1832 and named after William Osgoode, the first Chief Justice of the province. In 1846 the Society agreed to house the Superior Courts of Justice of the province here and in 1874 it transferred the central and west wings to the government. The Law in Society and the government continue to be co-owners of Osgoode Hall. While there have been many additions to the building, the front facade has been kept basically as it was in 1860. Great care is taken to maintain the building’s character and still let it operate as a modern working building.
Osgoode Hall houses the highest courts of the province and related offices. It also accommodates the offices of the Law Society and facilities for continuing legal education. The building has a long history as an educational facility. Until 1957, it was the province’s only accredited law school. While the law school and, more recently, the Bar admissions program have been relocated, Osgoode Hall continues to accommodate professional development programs.
Osgoode Hall fence
“Cow Gate” along University Avenue
Along Queen Street and up University a way, there is an ornate iron fence completed in 1867. It is renowned for its peculiar “cow gates.” While tradition is that they were installed to keep out wandering cattle (Osgoode Hall was originally in the country) it is more likely that the gates were a Victorian whimsy.
The Law Society of Upper Canada, founded in 1797, is one of the oldest professional organizations in North America. It has been charged with governing the legal profession in Ontario in the public interest. It provides services to the public including assistance in access to legal services and information such as an online lawyer directory, a lawyer referral service and library and research facilities, and a client compensation fund. For its members it provides continuing education and other services to assist them in their practices. For more information about the Law Society of Upper Canada, visit: www.lsuc.on.ca.