1868 The Fence around Osgoode Hall
Osgoode Hall is surrounded by an intricate iron fence that runs the length of Queen Street. In 1868 the ornate fence was completed. It was built by William Hamilton, whose daughter had married William Gooderham's son, Henry. The fence provides a defining line between the heritage building and the heavily populated Queen Street. The Victorian design envelops Osgoode Hall in a charming manner. The fence is well known for its "cow gates." The design is similar to cattle gates that are erected to house animals. To date there is no proof that the ornate fence surrounding Osgoode Hall was erected for that reason. The cow gates of Osgoode Hall were in all likelihood no more than an ornament to be contemplated by busy barristers dreaming of simpler times and greener places. A few of the details in the fence may be wrought iron (if they are original but there are no more sources for true wrought iron in North America), the vast bulk of the fence is cast iron. Intricate and beautiful to be sure, but not wrought iron.
William Hamilton, an iron founder, machinist, and inventor was born in 1810 in Lasswade, Midlothian County, Scotland. Following his apprenticeship in Scotland and extensive training in foundries in England, William Hamilton came to Toronto establishing the St Lawrence Foundry, Engine Works, and Machine Shop in 1851 or 1852, in partnership with his son William. The shop offered castings and steam engines. By 1861 he employed 40 men and produced $37,000 worth of castings, nuts, and bolts for the railways. Hamilton’s production techniques differed markedly from those then most current in Toronto. Hamilton used a large number of machine tools while retaining numerous well-trained artisans; his techniques attracted machinists, inventors, and moulders of high calibre. He produced such diverse items as the fence for Osgoode Hall in Toronto, railway cars and wheels, steam engines with boilers for factories and boats, and steam dredges for clearing harbours. Perhaps his close association with the railways brought him into contact with William Gooderham who had brought a spur of the Grand Trunk railway to the distillery’s door in 1859. For a year later, in March of 1860, William’s son Henry Gooderham married William Hamilton’s daughter Mary.
Osgoode Hall is surrounded by an intricate iron fence that runs the length of Queen Street. In 1868 the ornate fence was completed. It was built by William Gooderham's son, Henry's father-in-law, William Hamilton.