Monday, March 24

Historic Wolseley Courthouse Gets New Lease on Life

Photo: Claude-Jean Harel
The Government of Saskatchewan will soon hand over keys to the Wolseley Courthouse to the Town of Wolseley.  The arrangement will see the community turn it into municipal offices and space for community organizations as part of an effort to protect this 119 year old provincially-designated heritage property.

The building ceased operation as a courthouse in 1909, but continued to serve as a public building in the community for many years.  Although the 3,820 square foot building has been vacant for several decades, the building and grounds have been maintained by the Saskatchewan Ministry of Central Services.

The Town of Wolseley has historically played a very active role in the stewardship of its built heritage assets, including the Opera House and the town’s unique swinging bridge. Wolseley is one of the four Main Street Saskatchewan communities chosen as three-year demonstration projects in 2011, along with Maple Creek, Indian  Head and Prince Albert. Tree of these choices have close associations with the Trans-Canada Highway, and premumably were identified as promising locations partly because of their presumed ability to lure drive-through traffic on Highway #1.

It is also worth noting that Wolseley has a long history of successes in municipal beautification and placemaking undertakings which have earned it many accolades over the years. Wolseley was named one of Canada's prettiest, most historic towns by Harrowsmith Country Life in 2000

The Wolseley Heritage Foundation has proposed three key phases to the Courthouse building rejuvenation initiative:
  • the revitalization of the exterior of the Wolseley Courthouse;
  • the rehabilitation of the interior of the building making it ready for occupancy; and 
  • the move of the municipal government offices and public spaces into the courthouse.

“This is a significant undertaking for our community,” Wolseley Mayor Dennis Fjestad said.  “The Courthouse testifies to the tremendous optimism and forward thinking shared with our first settlers.  Once again we have the opportunity to demonstrate that pioneer spirit.  Acquisition of heritage property carries with it both pride and responsibility.  It creates a great potential for future use of our historic Courthouse and represents a strong commitment for the preservation of our past.”

A joint effort between the Town of Wolseley, the Wolseley Heritage Foundation and the province will help cover the costs of the restoration.  The town has agreed to provide $300,000 and the Wolseley Heritage Foundation has committed to raising $218,000.  Central Services will provide funds of $100,000 a year for three years to help bring the building back up to standards.

Photo: Claude-Jean Harel
Built in 1894-1895, the Wolseley Courthouse is the oldest existing courthouse building in Saskatchewan and the only one built during the era of the Territorial Government.

(written and edited using files from Central Services Communications)