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St. Luke's Anglican Church

Red Deer

Other Names:

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
St. Luke’s Anglican Church was constructed in stages between 1899 and 1906. It is a sandstone church building with steeply-pitched gable roofs. A square, two-storey tower with battlements is situated at the northwest corner, a chancel and vestry project from the east elevation, and a choir vestry projects from the south elevation. The church features numerous Gothic-arched doorways, windows and louvred tower openings. A Celtic cross surmounts the west gable end and a Latin cross surmounts the south gable end. A sandstone retaining wall partially encloses the building on the north and west sides. The church occupies three lots on a block of commercial buildings and is situated at the corner of Gaetz Avenue and 54 Street in downtown Red Deer.

Heritage Value
The heritage value of Red Deer’s St. Luke’s Anglican Church lies in its architectural significance as an excellent example of Gothic Revival style church construction. The use of sandstone also makes the church an excellent and rare example of stone church construction in Alberta.

The Parish of St. Luke’s was formed in May 1893, but construction of a modest church did not begin until 1898. In 1899, the parish’s new minister, Joshua Hinchliffe, proposed that the still incomplete building be abandoned and a substantial sandstone church be constructed. After the donation of three lots on the southeast corner of McLeod (54th) Street and Gaetz Avenue, construction began in the summer of 1899. In 1900, the chancel, sanctuary and a small nave were completed; the nave was extended in 1904 and again in 1906. Also in 1906, a choir vestry and tower were added, bringing construction to an end. The use of stone as a construction material is significant and unusual. Although stone was the preferred construction material for Anglican churches, wood, and later brick, were more frequently used in Alberta due to their being easier to work with and more readily available. Despite a local source of sandstone, quarrying and transportation difficulties resulted in construction delays and the resultant high construction costs put the parish in financial difficulties for many years.

St. Luke’s is an excellent example of Gothic Revival church architecture on a relatively small scale. The Gothic Revival movement arose due to the influence of mid-nineteenth century theologians, notably the Oxford Tractarians and the Cambridge Ecclesiological Society, who believed that the Anglican Church had degenerated and needed to return to its theologically Catholic roots. The Ecclesiologists rejected the architecture of the Renaissance and the contemporary period as being pagan and advocated a return to the Decorated Gothic architecture of the medieval period, which they perceived as being a morally superior era. Ecclesiological theories had a profound impact on church design over the ensuing decades. Ideally, Gothic Revival churches were to be oriented along an east-west axis with the chancel on the eastern side. The chancel, which contained the sanctuary, was the main focus of the church and had to be clearly distinguishable from the nave. The use of stone was paramount and steeply-pitched, wooden roofs were preferred. A tower, if included, was to be at the west side of the building. Interior rafters were to be exposed and Gothic or pointed arches used liberally throughout. Colourful decorations and ornamentation could be lavish, but had to be highly symbolic and not just for the sake of beautification.

St. Luke’s exhibits a number of Gothic Revival elements. While a relatively small church, the use of sandstone and the steeply-pitched roofs gives it a feeling of massive proportions. The church is oriented on an east/west axis with the chancel at the east end and a square, battlemented tower at the northwest corner. The chancel is clearly distinguishable by its smaller footprint and lower roofline, and on the inside by its arch and raised platform. Gothic-arched elements dominate the building, particularly the large stained glass windows on the west and east elevations, the main entryway in the tower’s base and the louvred openings in its upper reaches. Rows of lancet windows, arranged in triplets of a tall window flanked by two shorter windows, line the north and south elevations. The interior features fir-clad walls and an exposed scissor-truss rafters. The layout of the nave and chancel also reflect Gothic Revival characteristics, including the bench-style pews off a central aisle, the placement of the lectern, altar, reredos, baptismal font and organ.

Source: Alberta Culture, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 489)

Character-Defining Elements
Key elements that define the heritage value of Red Deer’s St. Luke’s Anglican Church include such elements as its:

- orientation on an east-west axis;
- use of locally-quarried sandstone as the major construction material giving the church a massive appearance despite its relatively small size;
- steeply-pitched, gable roofs;
- chancel, which is clearly distinguishable from the nave on the exterior by the lower gable roof and smaller footprint and on the interior by the chancel arch and raised platform;
- sanctuary, which is clearly distinguishable from the chancel on the exterior by a second stepped gable roof and on the interior by the second raised platform;
- priest’s door on the northern side of the chancel;
- large, single, Gothic arched, stained glass window on the west elevation and a slightly smaller, single, Gothic-arched window on the eastern elevation;
- square, battlemented tower situated at the northwest corner of the building;
- fenestration pattern of sets of three lancet windows, a tall window flanked by two shorter windows lining the north and south elevations;
- placement of the main, north facing, Gothic-arched entryway in the base of the tower;
- other Gothic-arched elements, notable the louvred openings in the upper reaches of the tower and the subsidiary doorway in the southern addition,
- extensive use of stained glass windows, most with a symbolic or memorial meaning;
- use of vertical fir paneling on the interior walls;
- exposed scissor-truss rafters;
- arrangement of bench-style pews of a central aisle;
- arrangement of furnishings and religious ornamentation in the chancel and sanctuary, notably the reredos, choir pews
- reredos, located in the chancel.


Street Address: 4929 - 54 Street
Community: Red Deer
Boundaries: Lots 9 to 11, Block 14, Plan K
Contributing Resources: Buildings: 1

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

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

Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
52.272597 -113.813567 GPS NAD 83

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type


Recognition Authority: Province of Alberta
Designation Status: Provincial Historic Resource
Date of Designation: 2012/08/27

Historical Information

Built: 1898 to 1898
Significant Date(s) 1899 to 1936
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
Current Function(s): Religion, Ritual and Funeral : Religious Facility or Place of Worship
Architect: Edmiston and Johnson

St. Luke's Anglican is Red Deer's oldest active church. It was constructed over an eight-year period. The foundation was laid in 1898, the first section was completed in 1899, a second section in 1900 and an addition to the west end during 1905-1906.

The association of the church with the Rev. Joshua Hinchcliffe is significant. Trained as an architect before becoming a minister, he was appointed rector of St. Like's parish in 1898. Prior to that, he had worked extensively on the Blackfoot and Peigan reserves. He was instrumental in the planning and construction of the church and used many talents to establish St. Luke's as a vital part of the growing community. He was a military chaplain during World War One, and later a member of the British Columbia Legislature. He was admitted to the bar in 1932.

St. Luke's is important architecturally and historically. A prominent firm of Edmonton architects, Edmiston and Johnson, designed the church in the gothic revival style, highlighted by a battlement tower. Local sandstone was used in construction; few buildings in the Red Deer region are made of this stone.

Additional Information

Object Number: 4665-0113
Designation File: DES 0489
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File: HS 10347
Website Link:
Data Source: Alberta Culture, Historic Resources Management Branch, Old St. Stephen's College, 8820 - 112 Street, Edmonton, AB T6G 2P8 (File: Des. 489)
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