Osgoode Hall – A Toronto Landmark & National Historic Site

1890s - The West Wing, Centre Building and East Wing of Osgoode Hall at 130 Queen St W, looking northwest
1890s – The West Wing, Centre Building and East Wing of Osgoode Hall at 130 Queen St W, looking northwest (Toronto Public Library R-5)

Osgoode Hall is located at ‪130 Queen St W‬ (at University Ave, on the northeast corner) in downtown Toronto.

This Victorian Classical gem was built for the headquarters of the Law Society of Upper Canada. The organization was formed in 1797 to represent lawyers of Ontario. It was named after the first Chief Justice of Upper Canada, William Osgoode.

Architect John Ewart designed the East Wing with construction from 1829 to 1832. The building was home to law courts and judicial offices and provided housing to lawyers and students. During the Rebellion of 1837, this building was damaged while provincial troops were stationed here.

Henry Bowyer Lane designed the West Wing and Central section, as well as the reconstruction of the East Wing. Construction took place from 1844 to 1846.

From 1857 to 1860, architects Cumberland & Storm rebuilt the Centre portion. Several extensions of Osgoode Hall (including Law School additions) and restorations have been made; however, the front façade has remained unchanged since 1860.

2022 - The Centre Building of Osgoode Hall at 130 Queen St W
2022 – The Centre Building of Osgoode Hall at 130 Queen St W

Architectural Highlights of Osgoode Hall

Great Library – called the most beautiful room in Canada, was designed by Cumberland & Storm and opened in 1860. Features include an elaborate ceiling, etched glass windows, cork floor, columns and a triple cube design (40 ft high x 40 ft wide x 120 ft long).

Fence & Gates – designed by William Storm in 1866. The mainly cast iron fence, known for its “cow gates,” was designated a heritage property along with the buildings in 1973. While there’s no proof the gates were used for cattle, they may have been chosen because of their Victorian design.

Convocation Hall – designed by William Storm in the Romanesque style, the room opened in 1881. It’s modelled after a medieval dining hall and features ten stained glass windows covering 4,000 years of law.

The beautiful property also features a Rotunda/Atrium, gardens, courtrooms, judges’ chambers, stained glass windows, a restaurant and more.

Haunted Tales

The collection of historic buildings is thought to be haunted by a few spirits. The first is a group that can be heard talking in one of the chambers at Osgoode Hall. The doors are usually open; however, when the speaking starts, the chamber’s doors close on their own. There have also been reports of a female apparition seen gliding through the halls. Click for more haunted tales.

Osgoode Hall Photos

2022 - The Centre Building of Osgoode Hall at 130 Queen St W in downtown Toronto
2022 – The Centre Building of Osgoode Hall at 130 Queen St W in downtown Toronto
2020 – Looking north towards the ornate cow gates and fence at Osgoode Hall. While there's no proof the gates were used for cattle, they may have been chosen because of their Victorian design
2020 – Looking north towards the ornate cow gates and fence at Osgoode Hall. While there’s no proof the gates were used for cattle, they may have been chosen because of their Victorian design
2020 - Looking north towards the facade of the Centre Building at Osgoode Hall
2020 – Looking north towards the facade of the Centre Building at Osgoode Hall
1950s - Looking north towards Osgoode Hall's Centre Building
1950s – Looking north towards Osgoode Hall’s Centre Building (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1128, Series 380, Item 26)
2022 - Looking northeast towards the East Wing of Osgoode Hall
2022 – Looking northeast towards the East Wing of Osgoode Hall
2022 - Looking northwest towards the West Wing of Osgoode Hall and the Canada Life Building during spring blossoms
2022 – Looking northwest towards the West Wing of Osgoode Hall and the Canada Life Building during spring blossoms
2021 – The Canada Life Building stands to the west of Osgoode Hall
2021 – The Canada Life Building stands to the west of Osgoode Hall
1975 - Looking northwest from Queen St W towards Osgoode Hall and the Canada Life Building
1975 – Looking northwest from Queen St W towards Osgoode Hall and the Canada Life Building (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, File 14, Item 14)
1856 – Looking northwest towards Osgoode Hall when it was surrounded by a wooden picket fence. It was replaced by the cast iron fence we see today in 1868
1856 – Looking northwest towards Osgoode Hall when it was surrounded by a wooden picket fence. It was replaced by the cast iron fence we see today in 1868 (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1498, Item 9)
1960 – The cow gates and Centre Building at Osgoode Hall
1960 – The cow gates and Centre Building at Osgoode Hall (Toronto Public Library TSPA_0110377F)
1936 - A curious crowd gathers outside of the cast iron fence at Osgoode Hall
1936 – A curious crowd gathers outside of the cast iron fence at Osgoode Hall (Toronto Public Library, Toronto Star Photograph Archive TSPA 0110386F)
2022 - Looking northeast towards Osgoode Hall during spring blossoms
2022 – Looking northeast towards Osgoode Hall during spring blossoms
1925 – Looking northeast towards Osgoode Hall
1925 – Looking northeast towards Osgoode Hall (Toronto Public Library R-6858)
1934 - An aerial view of the Canada Life Building and Osgoode Hall, looking northwest
1934 – An aerial view of the Canada Life Building and Osgoode Hall, looking northwest (Library and Archives Canada e010861775)
2020 - Looking northeast towards the West Wing at Osgoode Hall
2020 – Looking northeast towards the West Wing at Osgoode Hall
1927 - Looking south on York St from Osgoode Hall on Queen St W
1927 – Looking south on York St from Osgoode Hall on Queen St W (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, Item 7182)
2021 – Osgoode Hall with new Toronto City Hall in the background
2021 – Osgoode Hall with new Toronto City Hall in the background
1913 – Looking northeast towards Osgoode Hall from the corner of Queen St W and University Ave. Notice the Old City Hall clock tower in the distance
1913 – Looking northeast towards Osgoode Hall from the corner of Queen St W and University Ave. Notice the Old City Hall clock tower in the distance (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1231, Item 769)
1908 - The Great Library at Osgoode Hall is called the most beautiful room in Canada
1908 – The Great Library at Osgoode Hall is called the most beautiful room in Canada (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, File, Item 2050)
1910 - The Great Library fireplace at Osgoode Hall
1910 – The Great Library fireplace at Osgoode Hall (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, Item 310)
1890s - The West Wing, Centre Building and East Wing of Osgoode Hall at 130 Queen St W, looking northwest
1890s – The West Wing, Centre Building and East Wing of Osgoode Hall at 130 Queen St W, looking northwest (Toronto Public Library R-5)
2021 - The facade of Osgoode Hall's East Wing
2021 – The facade of Osgoode Hall’s East Wing
2021 - Equal Before the Law sculpture by Eldon Garnet in the McMurtry Gardens of Justice at Osgoode Hall. Notice the life-sized lion and lamb on the scale. Even though the two are different sizes, the scale stays balanced. Also, on the sculpture, "Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination"
2021 – Equal Before the Law sculpture by Eldon Garnet in the McMurtry Gardens of Justice at Osgoode Hall. Notice the life-sized lion and lamb on the scale. Even though the two are different sizes, the scale stays balanced. Also, on the sculpture, “Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination”
2021 - Osgoode Hall Benchers' entrance
2021 – Osgoode Hall Benchers’ entrance
1938 - The Library at Osgoode Hall
1938 – The Library at Osgoode Hall (Toronto Public Library R-6860)
1923 - The Court of Appeal at Osgoode Hall
1923 – The Court of Appeal at Osgoode Hall (Library and Archives Canada a068375)
1938 - Osgoode Hall interior
1938 – Osgoode Hall interior (Toronto Public Library R-6859)
1950s – An aerial view looking northwest towards the Canada Life Building and Osgoode Hall
1950s – An aerial view looking northwest towards the Canada Life Building and Osgoode Hall (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1128, Series 380, Item 398)
1950s – An aerial view of Osgoode Hall looking northwest. Notice Chestnut St once intersected with Queen St W
1950s – An aerial view of Osgoode Hall looking northwest. Notice Chestnut St once intersected with Queen St W (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1128, Series 380, Item 397)
2022 – Looking east from University Ave through the fence and cow gate at Osgoode Hall. Notice the Old City Hall clock tower in the distance
2022 – Looking east from University Ave through the fence and cow gate at Osgoode Hall. Notice the Old City Hall clock tower in the distance
2022 – Looking east from the grounds of Osgoode Hall with the Old City Hall clock tower in the distance
2022 – Looking east from the grounds of Osgoode Hall with the Old City Hall clock tower in the distance
1950s – Looking east towards the West and East Wings of Osgoode Hall. Notice the Old City Hall clock tower in the distance
1950s – Looking east towards the West and East Wings of Osgoode Hall. Notice the Old City Hall clock tower in the distance (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1128, Series 380, Item 28)
1950s – An aerial view looking east towards Osgoode Hall
1950s – An aerial view looking east towards Osgoode Hall (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1128, Series 380, Item 269)
1929 - Looking east from the Canada Life Building towards Osgoode Hall, The Ward (future site of Toronto City Hall) and Old City Hall
1929 – Looking east from the Canada Life Building towards Osgoode Hall, The Ward (future site of Toronto City Hall) and Old City Hall (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, Item 89)
1856 – Looking north up York St towards Osgoode Hall from the top of Rossin House Hotel, which was once located at King St W and York St on the southeast corner
1856 – Looking north up York St towards Osgoode Hall from the top of Rossin House Hotel, which was once located at King St W and York St on the southeast corner (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1498, Item 16)
2022 – Looking northwest towards the West Wing at Osgoode Hall
2022 – Looking northwest towards the West Wing at Osgoode Hall
2021 - The facade of Osgoode Hall's West Wing
2021 – The facade of Osgoode Hall’s West Wing
2022 – Centre Building at Osgoode Hall
2022 – Centre Building at Osgoode Hall
2022 – The main entrance of Osgoode Hall. The etched glass in the second storey arched windows is the Great Library
2022 – The main entrance of Osgoode Hall. The etched glass in the second storey arched windows is the Great Library
2021 – Front door of Centre Building at Osgoode Hall
2021 – Front door of Centre Building at Osgoode Hall
2022 – Front doors at the Centre Building of Osgoode Hall
2022 – Front doors at the Centre Building of Osgoode Hall
2021 – Looking north from the garden of Osgoode Hall at 130 Queen St W
2021 – Looking north from the garden of Osgoode Hall at 130 Queen St W
2022 – Looking north towards the cow gates and fence that surrounds Osgoode Hall
2022 – Looking north towards the cow gates and fence that surrounds Osgoode Hall
1852 – Looking north towards Osgoode Hall before architects Cumberland & Storm rebuilt the Centre Building
1852 – Looking north towards Osgoode Hall before architects Cumberland & Storm rebuilt the Centre Building (Toronto Public Library R-5664)
1856 - The Toronto City Directory showing the address of Osgoode Hall. Notice above the Osgoode Hall listing it mentions Sayer Street which is today known as Chestnut St, and below it mentions Park Lane which is present-day University Ave
1856 – The Toronto City Directory showing the address of Osgoode Hall. Notice above the Osgoode Hall listing it mentions Sayer Street which is today known as Chestnut St, and below it mentions Park Lane which is present-day University Ave (Toronto Public Library)
1884 - Goads Map showing the location of the Osgoode Hall
1884 – Goads Map showing the location of the Osgoode Hall (Toronto Public Library)
2022 – The heritage plaque reads: 

Women's Law Association of Ontario

"Founded in 1919, the Women's Law Association of Ontario (WLAO) was the first organization to work actively to create a place for women at Osgoode Hall. With membership open to law students, lawyers and judges, the non-profit organization advances issues relevant to women in law through networking, educational and social events. Strengthened by the women's rights movement, the WLAO's first 100 years marked Canada's first female lawyer being called to the bar, the first female leader of the regulator of the provincial bar, and the appointment of Canada's first female Supreme Court of Canada judge. The WLAO's campaigns influenced legislators, policy-makers, lawyers and judges to dismantle discrimination and enhance equality through law. Through advocacy, it fought employment and pay equity, criminal justice reform, and an end to gendered violence, racism, disability discrimination, homophobia and transphobia. The WLAO continues to empower women in the legal profession by providing a collective voice, and advocating for equality, diversity and change."

Ontario Heritage Foundation, an agency of the Government of Ontario
2022 – The heritage plaque reads:

Women’s Law Association of Ontario

“Founded in 1919, the Women’s Law Association of Ontario (WLAO) was the first organization to work actively to create a place for women at Osgoode Hall. With membership open to law students, lawyers and judges, the non-profit organization advances issues relevant to women in law through networking, educational and social events. Strengthened by the women’s rights movement, the WLAO’s first 100 years marked Canada’s first female lawyer being called to the bar, the first female leader of the regulator of the provincial bar, and the appointment of Canada’s first female Supreme Court of Canada judge. The WLAO’s campaigns influenced legislators, policy-makers, lawyers and judges to dismantle discrimination and enhance equality through law. Through advocacy, it fought employment and pay equity, criminal justice reform, and an end to gendered violence, racism, disability discrimination, homophobia and transphobia. The WLAO continues to empower women in the legal profession by providing a collective voice, and advocating for equality, diversity and change.”

Ontario Heritage Foundation, an agency of the Government of Ontario
2021 – The heritage plaque reads:

Osgoode Hall

"In 1829-32 the Law Society of Upper Canada erected the east wing of this imposing building. Named after William Osgoode, the province's first chief justice, the Regency structure housed law courts and judicial offices, and provided accommodation for lawyers and students. It was severely damaged during the six years in which provincial troops were stationed here following the Rebellion of 1837. Plans for its reconstruction were drawn up by Henry Bowyer Lane, an accomplished Toronto architect, and in 1844-46 the west and central portions were erected and the east wing remodelled. In 1857-60 the celebrated architectural firm Cumberland and Storm rebuilt the centre section. Later extended and renovated, Osgoode Hall remains one of the finest examples of Victorian classical architecture in Canada."

Erected by the Ontario Heritage Foundation, Ministry of Citizenship and Culture
2021 – The heritage plaque reads:

Osgoode Hall

“In 1829-32 the Law Society of Upper Canada erected the east wing of this imposing building. Named after William Osgoode, the province’s first chief justice, the Regency structure housed law courts and judicial offices, and provided accommodation for lawyers and students. It was severely damaged during the six years in which provincial troops were stationed here following the Rebellion of 1837. Plans for its reconstruction were drawn up by Henry Bowyer Lane, an accomplished Toronto architect, and in 1844-46 the west and central portions were erected and the east wing remodelled. In 1857-60 the celebrated architectural firm Cumberland and Storm rebuilt the centre section. Later extended and renovated, Osgoode Hall remains one of the finest examples of Victorian classical architecture in Canada.”

Erected by the Ontario Heritage Foundation, Ministry of Citizenship and Culture
2022 - Osgoode Hall heritage plaque (French)
2022 – Osgoode Hall heritage plaque (French)
2021 - The heritage plaque located in Niagara-on-the-Lake reads:

The Law Society of Upper Canada 1797

"Following the introduction of English Civil Law into this province in 1792, legislation was passed in 1797 authorizing the establishment of the Law Society of Upper Canada. A founding meeting was held in Wilson's Hotel in this community on July 17, 1797. It was attended by ten practitioners, including the Attorney General, the Honourable John White, who was appointed Treasurer, the Society's principal officer. The Society was responsible for setting standards for admission and regulating the province's legal profession. After relocating to York (now Toronto) in the late eighteenth century, the Society moved into its newly-constructed quarters - Osgoode Hall - in 1832. The Society continues to regulate and control Ontario's legal profession."

Ontario Heritage Foundation, an agency of the Government of Ontario
2021 – The heritage plaque located in Niagara-on-the-Lake reads:

The Law Society of Upper Canada 1797

“Following the introduction of English Civil Law into this province in 1792, legislation was passed in 1797 authorizing the establishment of the Law Society of Upper Canada. A founding meeting was held in Wilson’s Hotel in this community on July 17, 1797. It was attended by ten practitioners, including the Attorney General, the Honourable John White, who was appointed Treasurer, the Society’s principal officer. The Society was responsible for setting standards for admission and regulating the province’s legal profession. After relocating to York (now Toronto) in the late eighteenth century, the Society moved into its newly-constructed quarters – Osgoode Hall – in 1832. The Society continues to regulate and control Ontario’s legal profession.”

Ontario Heritage Foundation, an agency of the Government of Ontario
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