Carleton County Courthouse Woodstock

Carleton County Court House in Woodstock NB

Carleton County Courthouse Woodstock

The Carleton County Courthouse in Woodstock is recognized as a Local Historic Place, marking the conclusion of a long-standing rivalry between the “Creek Village” (now known as Woodstock) and Upper Woodstock. Both towns competed for the status of Shire town, a key downtown office, and control of the surrounding landscape.

The initial County Courthouse was constructed in Upper Woodstock, the County’s epicenter in its early years, soon after the formation of Carleton County in 1832. However, by the century’s end, industrial activity had gravitated towards the “Creek Village,” and the Courthouse required significant repairs. After a protracted dispute and intense deliberation, the Town Council decided in 1909 to construct a new courthouse as an extension to the Registry Office (1884) on Main Street, rather than refurbishing the Upper Woodstock building. Completed in 1910, this new Courthouse, along with all other significant civic buildings in the “Creek,” solidified Woodstock’s status as the County’s heart.

The interior of the Carleton County Courthouse’s courtroom, with its original wooden fixtures and hardware, is a significant aspect of its historic designation. Notably, it is the only courthouse in Canada known to have preserved its grand jury box. Although other offices within the building have been renovated, the courtroom and judges’ chambers have largely remained original.

Cenotaph in Woodstock, NB
Cenotaph in Woodstock, NB was built in the 1920’s.

The courthouse grounds are also part of the historic designation, contributing to the building’s overall aesthetic appeal. A cenotaph, featuring a statue of a WWI soldier and constructed in the early 1920s, adorns the area. This monument is inscribed with the names of Carleton County men who fell in WWI, with bronze plaques added later to commemorate casualties from subsequent wars. A German field gun, secured by Member of Parliament Thomas W. Caldwell, was installed on the premises in 1920 as a memorial.

Carleton County Jail, Woodstock.
Carleton County Jail in Woodstock was the site of three hangings: George Gee in 1904, Thomas Cammack in 1905, and Benny Swim in 1922. The hanging of Benny Swim, who had committed a double murder, created a scandal because he had to be hanged twice.

Also designated as a Local Historic Place is the Carleton County Jail, which functioned as a jail from 1901 until 1998. While the main level’s cells and inmate facilities are still intact and occasionally used, the jail keeper’s living quarters on the second story have been transformed into office space, though some decorative features, like a fireplace and mantel, were retained. The building’s exterior has remained largely unchanged since its construction, apart from some painting and enclosure of the grounds. 

Carleton County Jail Woodstock 1908
Carleton County Jail Woodstock 1908

The jail’s grounds are historically significant due to their local interest as the site of three hangings: George Gee in 1904, Thomas Cammack in 1905, and Benny Swim in 1922. The hanging of Benny Swim, a double murderer, sparked controversy because he had to be hanged twice.

The jail also stands as a symbol of Woodstock’s development. Its construction was part of the growth of the “Creek Village” (present day Woodstock). After the formation of Carleton County in 1832, Upper Woodstock was the shire town, but over time, industry and business gravitated towards the “Creek Village.” This shift culminated just after the turn of the century when all the civic buildings that had served the County since the 1830s, including the jail, were replaced with new structures in Woodstock.

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One thought on “Carleton County Courthouse Woodstock

  1. I just wanted to update you on the Woodstock Provincial jail, It was not shut down in 1993 but rather 1998. My father worked there. When it was shut down he transferred to The Islandview reformatory. I read the Woodstock page and they have it wrong as well. I will search through his farewell giftd and find the exact date but I think it was in June.

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