Skip to content

Repurposed Thunder Bay courthouse given heritage award

Courthouse Hotel receives provincial recognition for preservation of historical design elements

A former Thunder Bay courthouse that was repurposed into a luxury hotel has received a prestigious provincial heritage award.

The Courthouse Hotel received the Lieutenant Governor’s Ontario Heritage Award for Excellence in Conservation from the Rt. Hon. Elizabeth Dowdeswell at Queen’s Park, Feb.20.

The Thunder Bay Heritage Advisory Committee submitted the nomination to the Ontario Heritage Trust.

Located on Camelot Street in the city’s north end, the Port Arthur District Court House was built in 1923 and completed a year later.

The building was placed on the City of Thunder Bay’s Municipal Heritage Register in 2009 but it continued to serve as the Superior Court of Justice until 2014.

A developer purchased the property in the summer of 2017, putting it through an extensive $5-million floor-to-ceiling renovation that saw the building converted into a 40-room boutique hotel, opening in the spring of 2019.

Want to read more stories about business in the North? Subscribe to our newsletter.

As a local heritage building, there were limitations on what refurbishments could be done to ensure the preservation of the courthouse’s character and integrity.

A City of Thunder Bay news release said throughout the renovation process the hotel owner worked to ensure the building retained its significant historical features by working closely with the Ontario Heritage Trust and the heritage conservation easement in place on the property.

The former main courtroom is now a grand ballroom where weddings and other events are held.

The original jury booths and judges’ bench remain in place along with the room’s plasterwork, wood trim and panels.

The guestrooms were designed to fit the existing space while also maintaining ties to their original purpose. Much of the building’s original woodwork was kept, including the hardwood doors.

As a member of the Choice Hotels chain, the Courthouse Hotel was selected as the 2019 Best New Entry property for the Ascend Hotel Collection across Canada.

The Lieutenant Governor's Ontario Heritage Awards annually recognize exceptional contributions to heritage conservation, environmental sustainability and biodiversity, and cultural and natural heritage.

To view the complete list of the winners click here.