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Fort Saskatchewan Museum

Fort Saskatchewan

Other Names:
1909 Courthouse
Fort Saskatchewan Court House
Fort Saskatchewan Courthouse
Fort Saskatchewan Old Court House
Old Court House

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
The Fort Saskatchewan Museum is an early twentieth century, one and one- half storey brick building situated on a large lot in downtown Fort Saskatchewan that overlooks the North Saskatchewan River valley. Constructed in 1909 to serve as a courthouse, the building features a hipped roof, Romanesque brickwork arches over the door and window openings of the first floor, and sandstone sills and keystones.

Heritage Value
The heritage value of the former courthouse, now the Fort Saskatchewan Museum, lies in its association with the establishment of legal institutions in the province and in its subdued Edwardian Classical Revival architecture.

The Fort Saskatchewan Museum provides a structural reminder of the city's long tradition of administering law and justice. This heritage began with the North West Mounted Police (N.W.M.P.), which built a post at Fort Saskatchewan in 1875 - the first in Northern Alberta - and established the force's "G" Division headquarters here following the North West Rebellion in 1885. The policing and judicial facilities at the N.W.M.P. post served a growing population through the end of the nineteenth century, with the growth of settlement in the area during the 1880s and 1890s helping to develop Fort Saskatchewan into a local distribution centre. The arrival of the Canadian Northern Railway (C.Nor.R.) in 1905, the creation of the Province of Alberta, and the continued influx of settlers suggested the need to replace the N.W.M.P. court facilities with a more spacious, more suitable space for the adjudication of regional and local cases. The Fort Saskatchewan Museum was originally a courthouse, constructed in 1909 as part of the government's ambitious program to develop the administrative and legal infrastructure of Alberta shortly after the province's creation. The courthouse originally heard both the criminal proceedings of prisoners from the Provincial Gaol built in the town in the mid-1910s and the disputes and issues of the local citizenry. The main floor also served as a residence for a member of the Alberta Provincial Police. In later years, local cases began to be heard in the Town Hall and the Fire Hall. By the 1960s, a newly renovated Town Hall had become the venue for all court cases in the town and the courthouse served strictly as a residence for the Bursar of the Provincial Gaol. Since the early 1970s, the building has been used as a historical site and museum.

The Fort Saskatchewan Museum features a subdued Edwardian Classical Revival architectural design, a departure from the more ornate courthouse constructions of Provincial Architect A.M. Jeffers. A key figure in the design of early provincial buildings, Jeffers incorporated Classical forms and ideals into his many public constructions, including courthouses at Wetaskiwin, Lethbridge, and Edmonton. The Fort Saskatchewan Museum represents a departure from the typical design of Jeffers' work, emphasizing simplicity over embellishment, basic forms over Classical decoration. Planned and executed in just over half a year - perhaps because of political pressure - the building seems to have been a harried construction, with rapidity and economy taking precedence over meticulousness and aesthetics. Though far less ornate than his other buildings, the Fort Saskatchewan Museum nonetheless expresses Jeffers' Edwardian Classical Revival sensibilities in its symmetrical facade and Romanesque architraves. Many of the materials employed in the construction of this building - including the brick upper walls, fieldstone foundation, fieldstone basement walls, and exterior sandstone elements - were obtained locally. The building retains a high degree of interior and exterior integrity.

Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 566)


Character-Defining Elements
The character-defining elements of the Fort Saskatchewan Museum include such features as:
- mass, form, and style;
- bell cast hipped roof with corbelled chimney;
- brick facade featuring brick Romanesque architraves with sandstone keystones around door and window openings, brick and sandstone stringcourses above first storey, and rusticated sandstone stringcourse above foundation;
- rusticated fieldstone foundation;
- rusticated fieldstone bases for exterior staircases;
- double central door;
- fenestration pattern and style, including double-hung wooden sash windows;
- original interior elements, including plaster walls and ceilings, doors, window trim, and baseboards;
- original court features on second floor, including layout, furnishings and artifacts.


Location



Street Address: 10104 - 101 Street
Community: Fort Saskatchewan
Boundaries: Lot 1, Plan 7823256
Contributing Resources: Buildings: 1

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD
4
22
54
32
13 (ptn.)

PBL Legal Description (Cadastral Reference):
Plan Block Lot Parcel
7823256

1


Latitude/Longitude:
Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
53.713213 -113.217317 GPS NAD 83

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type

Recognition

Recognition Authority: Province of Alberta
Designation Status: Provincial Historic Resource
Date of Designation: 1990/01/16

Historical Information

Built: 1909 To 1909
Significant Date(s) 1909 To 1959
Theme(s) Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life : Architecture and Design
Governing Canada : Security and Law
Historic Function(s): Government : Courthouse and/or Registry Office
Current Function(s): Leisure : Museum
Architect: A.M. Jeffers
Builder:
Context: HERITAGE SIGNIFICANCE

The Fort Saskatchewan Museum is one of a number of buildings identifying in this city's long associated with the administration of justice in Alberta. It began in 1875 when the North West Mounted Police established one of their first posts at Fort Saskatchewan. The settlement of the area to the east during the 1880s and 1890s and the construction of the Canadian Northern Railway through the town in 1905 led to enough community growth to warrant construction of a Court House.

The Court House was constructed in 1909 to accommodate town court cases and, after 1914, cases involving prisoners at the new Fort Saskatchewan Correctional Institute. In later years, it was used as a residence for a member of the Alberta Provincial Police and for the Bursar of the Fort Saskatchewan Correctional Institute.

The Fort Saskatchewan Court House was designed by Provincial Architecture A.M. Jeffers. The majority of the structures designed under Jeffer's supervision were characterized by the extensive use of classical detailing such as projecting portico entrances supported by Ionic columns. Fort Saskatchewan by contract exhibits a more subdued classical inspiration with a symmetrical façade and round windows. Associated with a significant architect in the Province of Alberta, the Court House also reflects trends in institutional architecture in Alberta prior to World War One.

Additional Information

Object Number: 4665-0523
Designation File: DES 0566
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File: HS 34623
Website Link:
Data Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, Old St. Stephen's College, 8820 - 112 Street, Edmonton, AB T6G 2P8 (File: Des. 566)
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