The New Toronto Courthouse is a 17-storey tower courthouse that, when completed, will be the largest courthouse in Ontario. The project site has a rich history dating back to the 1840’s, with the last pre-existing building on the site having been demolished in the 1980’s. At that time heritage foundations and other elements were encapsulated under a parking lot.

In 2016, Infrastructure Ontario (IO) began an extensive Archaeological excavation of the site leading to the discovery of thousands of historical artifacts and the mapping of the lost footprints of many former buildings and structures, and the publication of two books. EllisDon retained +VG to navigate the complex approvals process with Infrastructure Ontario, the Ministry of the Attorney General (MAG), and the City of Toronto and to provide community consultation related to the heritage interpretation. +VG led consultations with:

  • The Heritage Interpretation Working Group set up by the City of Toronto,
  • The MAG Indigenous Elders’ Council, and
  • Separate Indigenous consultation meetings with Six Nations, Huron-Wendat, and Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation.

+VG’s challenge as the heritage architect was to provide heritage commemoration and interpretation on a site where all heritage material had been removed by the archaeological investigations or by the excavations for the courthouse. A multi-faceted heritage interpretation strategy was developed to engage the public as they approach the site and continuing through into the interior of the courthouse in the large glazed public atrium. The broad on-site Heritage Interpretation Strategy Included:

  • Site hoarding with heritage interpretation and graphic displays
  • Bronze inlay markers and plaques cast into the sidewalks and plaza spaces surrounding the courthouse
  • Three large stainless steel interpretation signage panels in the exterior plaza
  • Marker date stone and interpretative panel for the former British Methodist Episcopal Church (BME Church)
  • Full scale graphic window display commemorating the façade of the BME Church at its original location
  • Interior graphic explanatory panels
  • Archaeological artifacts display case for rotating exhibits
  • Digital information touch-screen kiosk
  • Heritage wall display of historic photographs, maps, and artifacts

Extensive coordination for the Heritage Interpretation Strategy was provided by +VG with the design team: architectural, archaeological, graphic communications, landscape, and lighting. Deliverables included the Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA), Heritage Interpretation Design Plan (HIDP), and Site Plan Application approvals.


Toronto, Ontario


Infrastructure Ontario (IO)




775,000 ft²


Heritage Consulting Services




David Ecclestone (+VG Architects)