Niagara Historical Society & Museum Insider's Look

Judge's Chair, Niagara Court House

Judge's Chair, Niagara Court House

This chair, also referred to as a judge's seat or bench, is from the Town of Niagara Courthouse and was first used in 1817. From 1781 to 1862, the Town of Niagara, or Newark, was the legal centre of the Province of Upper Canada and the county of Lincoln and Welland. This resulted in the development of a large legal community and the building of several different court houses. After the first courthouse was burned by American forces in December 1813, a replacement was constructed in 1817. This chair was then brought in to serve as the bench for the presiding judge. As one of the earliest neo-Gothic chairs in Ontario, this formal seat remained in use at the third courthouse on Queen Street until 1847. After the county court was relocated to St. Catharines, the Queen Street courthouse was transformed in to a Town Hall and the chair was utilized by the Mayors of Niagara in council meetings until at least 1877.