Designed and developed between 1840 and the mid 1890s, the Courthouse Square was the home of the Canada Company’s main office, the founder of the Huron Tract. Its radial composition is attributed to John Galt and is inspired by ancient Roman city plans.
Many believe that Goderich’s unique plans were intended for Guelph. Instead, the Canada Company in planning the town, hoped to call it Guelph in honour of the Royal Family. John Galt, the superintendent of the Company, prevailed in keeping the name Goderich.
The Square was formally listed in the Register of Historic Place by the Government of Canada in May 2007.
The original courthouse was destroyed in a fire and replaced by a modern structure in the 1950s.
On the afternoon of August 21, 2011, a F3 tornado touched down in Goderich after coming ashore as a waterspout. Moving up from the west side of town, the Goderich tornado is one of the strongest to strike Ontario since the Arthur event in 1996.
The devastating storm downed power lines, tore roofs from houses, and left cars and trees scattered along city streets. Hundred-year-old trees surrounding the Goderich Courthouse were uprooted in seconds. A Lucknow man, associated with the Goderich salt mine, was the sole person killed with 37 people injured.
News reports later indicated that one hundred houses, 25 buildings and thousands of 150-plus-year-old trees were seriously damaged or destroyed.