Ontario’s Legal History Open to All

Photo: MuseumsOntario.ca

Photo: MuseumsOntario.ca

Osgoode Hall is more than just the home of the Law Society of Upper Canada. It is also an historically significant building, housing one of the province’s most important courts and the Great Library collection of legal information.

During July and August, Osgoode Hall opens its doors for tours on weekdays. Starting at 1:15 p.m. each day, up to 20 participants take part in the one-hour, behind-the-scenes tours, guided by staff.

Highlights include:

  • The Atrium, with its geometric tile floor and stained glass skylights, monumental portraiture of Chief Justices of past centuries, its touching war memorial, and its architecture reminiscent of an Italian palazzo
  • A solemn 19th century courtroom
  • The Great Library, with a classical reading room, a 40-foot high ceiling, spectacular ornamental plaster, a war memorial, and a magnificent spiral staircase in the American Room
  • The East Wing, in use since 1832 – one of the oldest buildings in Canada that is still in the hands of its original owner and used for its original purpose
  • Convocation Hall, also known as Osgoode Hall Restaurant, with looks and style that seem to come straight from the Harry Potter movies

The original building was completed in 1832 and named after William Osgoode, the first Chief Justice of the province. the front façade remains essentially as it was in 1860. Later additions were accommodated by extending the building northward.

The Benchers’ Wing is on the tour. This is the oldest section of the building and it retains much of its Victorian character. The mosaic floor, staircase, paneling, and the glass dome of the entry hall, all provide a rare glimpse into a former era in Ontario’s history.

The Law Society of Upper Canada was founded in 1797 and is one of the oldest professional organizations in North America.

Note that there are no tours on Simcoe Day, the first Monday in August.

Orientation tours of the Great Library start Mon., May 5. Contact staff for more information:

    Tel: 416-947-3315 or 1-800-668-7380 ex. 3315 (ask for the Library)
    E-mail: refstaff@lsuc.on.ca
    Fax: 416-869-0331

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