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Judge’s Chair

Curated Submission
Niagara Region, Ontario
DIMENSIONS in centimetres
118 x 61
Materials & techniques
Wood, leather
Former property of Second (1817) and Third (1847) Courthouse in the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake
Niagara Historical Society and Museum 969.125
From 1781 until 1862 Niagara-on-the-Lake (known then as Newark or the Town of Niagara) was the legal centre of the Province of Upper Canada and of Lincoln and Welland Counties. As a result, many high-profile cases took place in the town and a large legal community was based there. Accommodating this civil service required a number of different courthouse buildings over the years, the first of which was burned to the ground by American forces in December 1813. A new courthouse was built in 1817, and this chair was soon after brought in to serve as the bench for the presiding judge.
One of the earliest neo-Gothic chairs in Ontario, this formal black-walnut chair with a leather cushion remained in use when another courthouse was built on Queen Street in 1847. Niagara would lose most of its legal significance in 1862 when the county court was relocated to St. Catharines. The courthouse in Niagara was thereafter used as the Town Hall. A fixture of the building by then, this chair was used by mayors of Niagara in council meetings until at least 1877; the chair can be spotted in an 1877 painting of the Town Hall’s interior.
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