The second courthouse in Niagara-on-the-Lake was built in 1847. So much had been removed from the former capital of British Canada, and in danger was the final power, the Courthouse for the Niagara Region.
Niagara-on-the-Lake wanted to ensure its part in the future of Canada, so famous architect William Thomas was hired. This is the same man who designed Brock’s Monument, The Don Jail in Toronto and much more.
He came through with an amazing Victorian structure that would make any region proud as a symbol of justice and honour… and then the court seat was moved to St. Catharines in 1862.
Many businesses occupied the Courthouse since the mid-1800’s, including a market, post office, fire hall, library, suspender factory, and of course a theatre (the Shaw Festival’s most unique).
The theatre remains with office space held by Parks Canada and the Niagara-on-the-Lake Chamber of Commerce.
Don’t go in at night
It’s commonly known among the working staff of The Courthouse to avoid being in the building alone at night. Strange things happen, as if the energy turns negative in darkness, and with only one as a witness, it’s that worker’s word alone to convince others something is just not right.
Mary, a cleaning lady for the Shaw, stayed back one night to complete the setup for an event the next morning. She was sweeping a large event room when noticing movement from the ceiling.
She looked up to see the large main light slowly swinging as if caught by a breeze. She noticed that none of the windows and doors were open, and was scared when the light started moving faster and faster, until it was shaking as if caught in a small earthquake, but the tables were steady.
The supports gave way and the light crashed to the floor. Mary ran from the Courthouse and vowed never to return.
A young lady who worked in the building was walking through the main hallway located behind the front door of The Courthouse. She heard a loud knocking coming from a room on her left.
As she got closer and realized which room, a cold chill came over her. The young lady was staring at the door to the original jail cell. This room had been dark, empty and locked up for decades.
She fought through the fear. Afraid that somebody might be trapped inside, she ran off and got the key from the main office, and ran all the way back. She put the key into the lock, the knocking louder and more violent against the old wood.
Closing her eyes, the young woman pulled back the door and the knocking faded away like a record coming to the end of its song. She opened her eyes to find the room just as dark and empty as it always was.
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