Christ Church Cathedral (Montreal)

Christ Church Cathedral (Montreal)
Christ Church Cathedral

Christ Church Cathedral, with the Tour KPMG office tower in the background.

Coordinates: 45°30′13″N 73°34′12″W / 45.50361°N 73.57°W / 45.50361; -73.57
Location Montreal, Quebec
Country Canada
Denomination Anglican
Founded 1814
Consecrated 1867
Status active
Heritage designation Bien culturel du Québec, National Historic Site of Canada
Designated 1988, 1999
Architect(s) Frank Wills, Thomas Seaton Scott
Architectural type Neo-Gothic
Groundbreaking 1857
Completed 1860
Length 62 metres (203 ft)
Width 33 metres (108 ft)
Nave width 34 metres (112 ft)
Height 70 metres (230 ft)
Number of spires 1
Spire height 38 metres (125 ft)
Diocese Montreal
Province Canada
Bishop(s) Barry Bryan Clarke
Dean The Very Revd J Paul Kennington
Assistant priest The Reverend Karla Holmes
Director of music Patrick Wedd

Christ Church Cathedral is an Anglican Gothic Revival cathedral in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, the seat of the Anglican Diocese of Montreal. It is located at 635 Saint Catherine Street West, between Union Avenue and University Street. It is situated on top of the Promenades Cathédrale underground shopping mall, and south of Tour KPMG. It was classified as historical monument by the government of Quebec on May 12, 1988. In 1999, it was designated a National Historic Site of Canada.[1][2]



The interior of the original Christ Church Cathedral in 1852.
The interior of the present Christ Church Cathedral.

The original Christ Church opened on Notre-Dame Street in Old Montreal in 1814. In 1850, it had been designated as the cathedral for the new Anglican Diocese of Montreal upon its separation from the Anglican Diocese of Quebec. The original Christ Church Cathedral was destroyed by fire in 1856.[3]

The present cathedral, an Neo-gothic structure, was designed by architect Frank Wills (1822–1856), who also designed Christ Church Cathedral in Fredericton, New Brunswick. Before construction began, Willis died, and Montreal architect, Thomas Seaton Scott (1826–1895) was commissioned to carry out his design.[4] It was completed in 1859 and consecrated in 1867.[4]

Andrew Taylor (Architect) performed alterations and restoration on the Christ Church Cathedral (Montreal)from 1890-91 and installed a memorial window for Mrs. A.C. Hooper, 1902-03. [5]

Modeled after the 14th century Gothic-style churches of the English countryside, the cathedral features a square shaped crossing tower.[6]

Unfortunately, the design, though acclaimed for its architecture, suffered from important engineering flaws. The soft ground could not support the heavy central stone tower and steeple, which began to subside and lean. By 1920, the tower leaned 4 feet to the south. This defect formed the basis of an important lawsuit (Wardle v. Bethune) often cited as precedent relating to Article 1688 of the Quebec Civil Code.

George Allan Ross (architect) performed alterations, 1923 and reconstructed the tower, 1939-40. [7] In 1927, the stone steeple, weighing 3,500,000 pounds (1,600,000 kg) had to be removed. New foundations were poured in 1939, and in 1940, an anonymous donation permitted the construction of a much lighter steeple made of aluminum, molded to simulate the former stone spire. It is 38 metres high, attaining a height of 70 metres off the ground.[4]

Recent additions to the church include a choir gallery, built in 1980, and the church's third organ, completed in 1981. Notable musicians to have served as the church's organist include Alfred Whitehead (1922–1947) and S. Drummond Wolff (1952–1956).

Promenades Cathédrale

Christ Church Cathedral at night.

In the 1980s, a vast real estate project was undertaken below the cathedral. The project consisted of a 34-floor skyscraper, Tour KPMG built north of the Cathedral, underground parking, and two levels of retail stores situated beneath the cathedral. In 1987, the Cathedral had to be supported on stilts during the construction of Promenades Cathédrale, an underground shopping mall. This project allowed for the linkage of the eastern and western branches of Montreal's underground city, connecting Eaton's (now Les Ailes de la Mode) and The Bay.

Canadian Grenadier Guards

It is the regimental church of the Canadian Grenadier Guards. Their traditional ties are maintained, as the guards march from McGill University Arts Building (with whom they also keep close ties) to Christ Church Cathedral, annually in commemoration for Remembrance Day. The old regimental colours are kept inside the church.

Further reading

  • (French) Commission des biens culturels, Les chemins de la mémoire, Monuments et sites historiques du Québec, Vol. II, Les Publications du Québec, Québec, 1991, pp. 81–83.


  1. ^ "Christ Church Cathedral". Directory of Designations of National Historic Significance of Canada. Parks Canada. Retrieved 29 July 2011. 
  2. ^ Christ Church Cathedral. Canadian Register of Historic Places. Retrieved July 29, 2011.
  3. ^ "Christ Church buildings". Our History. Christ Church Cathedral (Montreal). 2009 -02-07. Retrieved 9 November 2010. 
  4. ^ a b c "FAQs and Urban Myths". Our History. Christ Church Cathedral (Montreal). 2008-09-08. Retrieved 9 November 2010. 
  5. ^ Biographic Dictionary of Architects in Canada 1800-1950 Andrew Taylor (Architect)
  6. ^ "Guided tour". Our History. Christ Church Cathedral (Montreal). 2009-04-03. Retrieved 9 November 2010. 
  7. ^ George Allan Ross

External links

See also

Coordinates: 45°30′13″N 73°34′12″W / 45.50361°N 73.57°W / 45.50361; -73.57

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