COURT HOUSE AND GAOL (1817-1866)

Plaque at the end of a short driveway at the entrance to a park on the east side of Rye Street across from Cottage Street, Niagara-on-the-Lake.

This was the site of the Court House and Gaol of the Niagara District. The courts moved elsewhere in 1847, and the gaol closed in 1866. The imposing building erected in 1817 imprisoned early radical reformer Robert Gourlay on charges of “sedition” for his part in promoting discussions of public policy in Upper Canada. He faced the courts in 1819 and was sent into exile. An escaped American black slave named Solomon Moseby was imprisoned here in 1837, but was rescued by angry blacks and whites in an episode where two blacks were slain by the soldiers. This was also the site where James Morreau was executed after taking part in the Short Hills raid during the Rebellion of 1837-38. He was among 39 men and two women who were arrested west of Pelham. Morreau was sentenced to be hanged, and the execution took place in the adjoining stables. James Morreau lies buried in an unmarked grave in the St. Vincent de Paul cemetery’s east corner (Picton and Wellington Streets).


Photo credit (Courthouse): Metropolitan Toronto Library Board