Osgoode Hall is surrounded by an intricate iron fence that
runs the length of Queen Street. In 1868 the ornate fence
was completed. 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.
I thought the fence was wrought iron but upon receiving an
extraordinary email my attention was focused on the reality
of the creation of this beautiful structure. Patrick Kenny
is a trained blacksmith and provided me with the following
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 merely
cast iron. Intricate and beautiful to be sure, but not
To explain, "wrought" iron is the end product of a process
that was used in steel mills, whereby iron was folded over
and flattened out several times to remove slag and impurities.
This typically resulted in a slight grain to the metal, and
is characteristic of older hand-forged items that would be
made in a blacksmith's shop. In contrast "cast" iron is
merely poured into molds, much like ice cubes are, although
in the case of the Osgoode Hall fence very complex ice cubes.
Upon examination of the fence, the mold lines are still
visible through the paint.
This obviously does nothing to detract from the beauty of
the fence, but we are attributing the original work to a
different group of craftsman. Wrought iron was used by
blacksmiths, who did not do casting work.
Once again I would like to extend this opportunity to thank
Patrick Kenny for his expertise and detailed correspondence.
The fence is well known for its "cow gates." The design is
similar to cattle gates that are erected to house animals. During
the Second World War, suggestions were made to demolish the
fence and use the parts for scrap metal. Patriotic citizens
expressed this idea in support of the war effort.
A wooden picket fence was originally pictured surrounding
Osgoode Hall. The current "cow-gates" are similar to cattle
gates. They are designed to keep grazing animals off the
property. To date there is no proof that the ornate fence
surrounding Osgoode Hall was erected for that reason.
Creatures from cows to Fenians were rumoured as being
repelled by the gates of Osgoode Hall. Mystical gates
enabling magical entry is what legend would lead you to
believe. A realistic explanation is that the gates were
probably chosen for their Victorian charm.