Community Papers

Historic Victoria courthouse marking 125th birthday

Anissa Paulsen, director of exhibits and visitor engagement at the Maritime Museum of B.C., stands with a cutout likeness of Judge Matthew Baillie Begbie in the old courthouse inside the museum building. The museum is celebrating the old courthouse
Anissa Paulsen, director of exhibits and visitor engagement at the Maritime Museum of B.C., stands with a cutout likeness of Judge Matthew Baillie Begbie in the old courthouse inside the museum building. The museum is celebrating the old courthouse's 125th anniversary this Saturday (Feb. 1) with the first 125 visitors getting in for only $1.25.
— image credit: Don Denton/News staff

It’s been 125 years since B.C. Lt.-Gov. Hugh Nelson cut the ribbon on Victoria’s shining new courthouse in Bastion Square.

Surrounded by Victoria’s elite, Chief Justice Matthew Baillie Begbie – B.C.’s first supreme court judge remembered best for his propensity for hanging – made a speech comparing the building’s splendour to his open-air court proceedings during the Crown colony’s early days.

And while much has changed since 1889, the former courthouse, inside the Maritime Museum of B.C., is the site of a celebration Saturday (Feb. 1) to mark the historic anniversary.

“Being a National Historic Site, the building is part of who we are as British Columbians,” said Jonathan Irwin, the museum’s executive director.

The courthouse was B.C.’s first major public building constructed after confederation in 1871.

To mark the occasion, the Maritime Museum is offering $1.25 admission and free cupcakes to the first 125 visitors on Saturday. Doors open at 10 a.m., and tours focusing on the history of the courthouse take place at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

dpalmer@vicnews.com

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