The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - 15

leaves of trees bursting with fresh life - is intoxicating in the bright spring sun. I turn
right, just past the century-old County Solicitor's Building and now I'm looking straight
at the former Ontario Land Registry Office, with a stone cairn in front, marking the
location of the first registry office.
In front of the registry office, a blue ribbon has been tied around a tree as a reminder
that even the most ancient of resources - ground water, as a definer of the limits to
growth of the community - needs to be protected. It's a line in the sand drawn by
many local people who prefer to decide the future of their own city.
Past the Superior Court of Justice lies the Wellington County Jail and Governor's
Residence, built in 1911, of stone salvaged from the original octagonal gaol, of 1839.
The Jail and Residence were designed by noted architect W.A. Mahoney, best known
for designing Carnegie libraries. The jail features low towers with crenellated rooflines.
The Governor's House resembles the Georgian style. It is a mainly symmetrical stone
structure with a wooden verandah that spans the façade. Some of the work on this
structure was undertaken by my late partner Bill Jarrett, Architect.
The lane is defined by a composition of walkways, canopies and steps that trickle
down the slope between the two structures. My progress is slowed as I explore the
limestone walls looking for fossils and life from a much more distant era. The shadow
of the tower traces a pattern of shade on the grass and flowers of the courtyard below,
leading me into another space.
A segment of the stone-walled exercise yard is still intact in the south-west corner,
of the 1911 jail. These walls of the Wellington County Gaol Yard are all that remain
of the 1839 building that was the first permanent public building in town. The yard
was the site of seven executions in the 1800s, including Henry White, whose body
is buried there. In addition to the executions, 11 other inmates met their end during
their incarceration in the old prison.
The planners I speak to stress the importance of community and human scale and
point to the public lane and yard as important elements of a healthy micro-village in
the face of the uncertain urban renewal taking place nearby. The urban expression of
my city leans generally to the right, with an emphasis on tradition, and the reuse of
history fits the mould. To my fellow citizens, traditionally designed cities reflect dreams
of a world where people forever know their place.
Most visitors to the yard are unaware of the dark past of this quiet, restful site.
But for me, the embodied irony provides an appropriate setting to contemplate the
present, and these American days. With so many people shocked, disturbed or just
plain baffled by Donald Trump's spreading of "alternative facts," it's no wonder the
dystopian classic 1984 is back in the public eye. After all, George Orwell's cautionary
tale described a society in which "whatever the Party holds to be true is truth" and
"the Ministry of Truth" promotes "doublethink" and "newspeak." The worries are that
"Big Brother is watching" and "the Surveillance State" is with us. Unfortunately, I have
recently experienced "Trump Chaos" within my own profession.
This place, with all its collected history and meaning seems to strongly remind me
about that world of anxiety, fear and paranoia and the scariness of Orwell's 1984, but
at the same time, it shields me from the relentless confusion of today's strange world.
The balance of my town is recycling itself now. Trying to be car-free, pedestrianscaled and sustainable. I leave this garden of stone by going through a carved and
fitted arch and down a long spiral concrete stair and on to Thorp Street. From there,
my route takes me past the new condo tower, around the modern performance art
centre to make a connection with the river.
Through gentle adaptation, the Wellington County Gaol Yard and the buildings I pass
along the route have withstood the ravages of almost 200 years, and I suspect they
will survive for a few hundred more.

The shadow
of the tower
traces a
pattern of
shade on
the grass
and flowers
of the
courtyard
below...

BILL BIRDSELL is an architect in Guelph, Ontario and a former two-term president of the Ontario
Association of Architects. He is a Director of the Built Environment Open Forum and a member of
The Right Angle Editorial Committee

The Right Angle | Fall 2017 | 15



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017

Message from the Board
Introduction to The Right Angle Journal
Places
Allied Arts & Professions: Light-Colour-Darkness
Index to Advertisers
Locations
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - Intro
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - cover1
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - cover2
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - 3
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - 4
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - 5
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - 6
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - Message from the Board
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - 8
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - Introduction to The Right Angle Journal
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - Places
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - 11
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - 12
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - 13
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - 14
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - 15
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - 16
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - 17
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - 18
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - 19
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - Allied Arts & Professions: Light-Colour-Darkness
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - Index to Advertisers
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - Locations
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - cover3
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2017 - cover4
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/BEFQ/BEFQ0220
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/BEFQ/BEFQ0120
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/BEFQ/BEFQ0419
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/BEFQ/BEFQ0319
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/BEFQ/BEFQ0219
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/BEFQ/BEFQ0119
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/BEFQ/BEFQ0418
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/BEFQ/BEFQ0318
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/BEFQ/BEFQ0218
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/BEFQ/BEFQ0118
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/BEFQ/BEFQ0417
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/BEFQ/BEFQ0317
https://www.nxtbookmedia.com