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St. Jean Baptiste Church and Rectory


Other Names:
Baptiste Roman Catholic Church & Rectory
St. Jean Baptiste R. C. Church
St. Jean Baptiste Roman Catholic Church & Rectory

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
St. Jean Baptiste Church and Rectory are situated on single, large town lot on Morinville's Main Street. The early twentieth century church is an ornate brick building featuring a steep gable roof, tall central steeple with flanking towers, and stained glass windows. The rectory consists of a one and one-half storey mansard roof log building and a later two and one-half storey wood frame building, both of which have been clad in brick. The church and rectory maintain their association with the historic Notre Dame Convent, which is not included in this designation.

Heritage Value
The heritage value of the St. Jean Baptiste Church and Rectory lies in their association with French religious culture in the province and their connection with the majestic architectural traditions of Québec.

In 1891, Father Jean-Baptiste Morin led several francophone families to the Morinville area from Quebec. His new community was part of a colonization plan to encourage francophone settlement in the vast lands of Western Canada. The rapid development of ecclesiastical infrastructure testifies to the centrality of the Roman Catholic Church in the new town. The first chapel in Morinville was constructed the same year Father Morin and his followers arrived; three years later, the settlers built the community's first church. In 1907, they completed work on the majestic St. Jean Baptiste Church. The first mass was held in the building on January 1, 1908. The first rectory - a simple log structure constructed in 1895 - was moved and joined to a second building erected in 1912 to create the current rectory. Both the church and the rectory were faced with brick in the late 1920s.

St. Jean Baptiste Church is one of the most elaborate and ornate Roman Catholic churches in Alberta and reflects the nineteenth century French-Canadian ecclesiastical style associated with architect Thomas Baillairge. Marrying traditional French-Canadian church design with eighteenth century British and French classicism, Baillairge's architectural style was embodied in numerous Alberta churches. St. Jean Baptiste Church's tall central spire, layout and ornately carved interior elements all express dimensions of traditional French-Canadian church design. Classicist ideas are evident in the pediment, the Romanesque Revival window arches, and the arrangement of the triple tower scheme. This foundational template is supplemented with High Victorian Gothic features, including the layered striping, geometric patterning, and dramatic polychromatic design of the exterior. The combined effect of the church's various design elements is one of solemn grandeur, encouraging meditative reflection. The rectory's exterior mirrors many of the features of the church. The building's interior incorporates the original log presbytery built in 1895 as an extension on the north side.

Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 431)

Character-Defining Elements
The character-defining elements of the St. Jean Baptiste Church and Rectory include such features as:
- spatial relationship between church and rectory;
- unobstructed view of church and rectory from Main Street.

St. Jean Baptiste Church exterior:
- symmetrical form and massing;
- steep gable roof, central steeple with pinnacles crowned by cross, and flanking towers surmounted by domes topped by crosses;
- diachromatic brickwork, quoins, semi-circular Romanesque Revival arches over windows, and decorative masonry elements;
- fenestration pattern, including symmetrical arrangement, stained glass elements, and south rose window;
- symmetrical arrangement of doors reflecting interior plan of central nave with flanking aisles;
- statue of Jesus Christ in recessed alcove.

St. Jean Baptiste Church interior:
- barrel vault over the nave and semi-dome over the apse;
- interior plan, columns, balconies, altar, and finishes;
- extensive pressed metal interior sheathing and details;
- ornate wall and ceiling murals surrounding altar;
- original furnishings, oil paintings, statuary, and woodwork.

St. Jean Baptiste Rectory:
- symmetrical form and massing;
- pyramidal roof with cross gables and crowning statue of St. Jean Baptiste;
- decorative masonry work, including segmental arches and diachromatic patterns;
- "ST JEAN BAPTISTE" letters above front door;
- fenestration pattern, including arched top, oriel windows, and gabled dormers.

North engaged structure of rectory:
- form, scale, and massing;
- log building sheathed with diachromatic brick;
- mansard roof, full east and west porches;
- fenestration pattern, including gable wall dormers.


Street Address: 10034 - 100 Avenue
Community: Morinville
Boundaries: Lot 26, Block A, Plan 7732R
Contributing Resources: Buildings: 2

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD
16 (ptn.)

PBL Legal Description (Cadastral Reference):
Plan Block Lot Parcel
7732 R

Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
53.802521 -113.646545 GPS NAD 83

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type


Recognition Authority: Province of Alberta
Designation Status: Provincial Historic Resource
Date of Designation: 1979/11/20

Historical Information

Built: 1894 to 1907
Significant Date(s)
Theme(s) Building Social and Community Life : Religious Institutions
Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life : Architecture and Design
Historic Function(s): Religion, Ritual and Funeral : Religious Facility or Place of Worship
Residence : Group Residence
Current Function(s):

St. Jean Baptiste Church is considered to be one of the most elaborate and ornate Roman Catholic Churches in Alberta, and is reminiscent of French-Canadian architecture. The highly ornate interior contains wall and ceiling murals surrounding the altar, hand painted relief designs, and a gallery in the apse. The rectory complements the church in style and construction technique.

These two early buildings represent an expression of the religious faith of the French pioneers of this area. The frame church was constructed in 1907 and later covered with brick veneer in 1929. The Rectory was constructed in two phases - the first presbytery, built of logs in 1895, is joined by the second presbytery built in 1912.

Additional Information

Object Number: 4665-0070
Designation File: DES 0431
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File: HS 21132
HS 24889
Website Link:
Data Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, Old St. Stephen's College, 8820 - 112 Street, Edmonton, AB T6G 2P8 (File: Des. 431)
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