Decision Made to Build a Civic Building Suitable to the New Capital of Canada

Decision Made to Build a Civic Building Suitable to the New Capital of CanadaPinterest
Sketch of the Market Square site on 9 December 1841 by William Kilborn. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

In 1841, the town of Kingston acquired what had been a privately owned lot at the corner of Ontario and Brock streets in an effort to gain as large a building site as possible for the proposed town hall and market. A competition to design the city hall was announced in newspapers in June of 1842.

At a special meeting on July 6, 1842, council considers a letter from John G. Howard, an architect from Toronto, which raises a number of issues about the proposed building; council then holds a discussion and agrees on the following:

  • the main building will face Ontario Street, where the lot frontage is 271'3"
  • it will be of cut stone
  • there will be three storeys including the cellar and the height 40 to 50 feet
  • a dome will go over the centre portion, which is flanked to each side by a wing
  • in the main building's cellar will be a station house for police, office and four cells, the rest of the cellar will house business shops
  • the main building's "city hall" (today's Memorial Hall) will be 100 x 50 feet, about 20 feet high, and contain committee rooms offices for the mayor and city use
  • the main building's merchant exchange or public room (today's Ontario Hall) will be the same size as the "city hall" and contain a newsroom, customs house, etc.
  • the market or shambles in the rear of the main building will be built of coursed stone, painted and pencilled with cut-stone coins [quoins]
  • the market will have butcher stalls with consideration for ventilation and a vegetable market
  • the market's basement will have cellars under the butchers' stalls and shops for hucksters
  • the main building and market will have tin roofs
  • the ground in the rear of the main building, where not covered by the market building, will be open for farmers' wagons on three sides of the square and will not be built upon
  • competition plans must be received by 15 August 1842