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Charlotte County Archives, the Old Gaol and the Charlotte County Courthouse


Back in the 1800s, the local courthouse was often the place where the community gathered. Such was the case for the Charlotte County Courthouse, built in 1839-40. Thomas Berry designed this historic building in classical-revival style. It combines the plain practicality of a one-story clapboard structure with a remarkable temple facade, complete with a roof pediment supported by Tuscan columns. This is where 19th-century citizens came together for elections, fairs, parades and official visits. Still in use today, it is the oldest courthouse in continuous use in Canada. It is recognized as a National Historic site and Provincial Heritage Place. Appropriately enough, the county ‘gaol' sits right next door. This building is a little older, dating back to 1832, and is a Provincial Heritage Place. In fact, it was still used as a jail right up until the late 1970s. The walls are thick and the cells were uncomfortable with tiny window openings and narrow doorways. It's not hard to grasp the harshness of the early justice system. Today, this building houses the Charlotte County Archives with a mandate to preserve and provide the recorded history of the area. The Charlotte County Archives offers to visitors guided tours of the County Courthouse and the Old Gaol cells, as well as historical walking tours and evening ghost walks (for information visit the ghost walks Facebook page: The Archives also sometimes hold ‘A Night in the Haunted Gaol' events for children aged 8 to 12. The night includes a ghost walk around the town of St. Andrews and a sleepover in the old gaol. Please contact the Gaol or visit us for more information.