North America

Attorneys Visiting Toronto Take Note

Osgoode Hall in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Osgoode Hall, crowned by the Law Society of Upper Canada and the Government of Ontario, is a fascinating site to visit for those attracted by history and fine old buildings as well as those with an interest in the law.

The Law Society of Upper Canada purchased the property in 1829 and the original building, now part of the east wing, was completed in 1832.

While it now sits in the centre of the city, it was then surrounded by pasture explaining the need for the peculiar “cow gates” that you, not being bovine, will be easily able to pass through in the beautifully ornate iron fence that separates the property from busy Queen Street.
The building has a long history as an educational facility housing the law school that was relocated to York University in 1969.

The Law Society’s area of Osgoode Hall still contains classrooms and lecture halls for bar admission students and continuing legal education. Convocation Hall has become the centerpiece of the building with 10 large stained glass windows representing various aspect of Canadian legal heritage highlighting the room.

The largest private collection of legal material in Canada is in the Great Library but it is really to be seen for its intricately designed ceiling, grand fireplace, etched and stained glass windows and staid columns.

Even though Osgoode Hall is one of the oldest surviving buildings in Toronto, it is still very much a working facility. This is where you will find the Ontario Court of Appeals, so while you have no fear of running into shackled criminals on trial you will see a lot of lawyers hurrying through the halls adorned in their traditional gowns and tabs.

Of course, the best idea is to take advantage of the tours conducted by knowledgeable law clerks throughout the summer Monday to Friday at 1:15 p.m. Not only will they take you into areas not usually open to the public such as the court rooms and the Benchers room for the Board of Directors but it’s almost necessary to secure a guide to make it through the maze of corridors that unite the 10 major additions encompassing 20 levels on 6 floors totaling 211,00 square feet.

And of course, being one of the highlights on the Ghost Tour of Toronto, Osgoode Hall may not be somewhere you’d want to be wandering alone.

You’ll find Osgoode Hall just west of City Hall at 130 Queen Street West. For more information call (416) 947-3300 or see the web site

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