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Cathedral Church of the Redeemer


Other Names:
Anglican Church

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
The Cathedral Church of the Redeemer is an early twentieth-century, one-and-a-half storey, rusticated sandstone and masonry building located on four lots adjacent to Olympic Plaza in downtown Calgary. The cathedral features stone walls, a red metal roof, and stained glass windows. The church is surrounded by a number of landscape elements.

Heritage Value
The heritage value of the Cathedral Church of the Redeemer lies chiefly in its association with the early presence of the Anglican Church in Alberta. The building is further significant for its value as an example of Gothic Revival architecture accented by influences from other styles.

The Anglican Church was present in the Northwest Territories from the mid-nineteenth century, with missionaries being provided by English organizations such as Church Missionary Society and the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. In the early 1880s, the Reverend John William Tims celebrated the first Anglican services in the Calgary region, and the Reverend Edward Paske Smith organized the group of largely English settlers which was to become the Church of the Redeemer. The parish constructed a wooden church in 1884, which served as the only Anglican parish in Calgary until 1905, when it was determined that Calgary would become the seat of a new Anglican Diocese, and the parish would become the Pro-Cathedral (a temporary designation). For forty-eight years the Diocese of Calgary was led from the cathedral by Bishop William Cyprian Pinkham, a key figure in the establishment of the Anglican faith in Alberta. Other notable clergy, including the Reverend C. E. Paget, also served in the cathedral.

The Cathedral Church of the Redeemer represents an eclectic combination of Gothic Revival architecture with various European influences. Scottish-born architect John C. M. Keith was commissioned in 1903 to design the church. Highly distinguishable from other Gothic Revival churches in Calgary at the time, Keith's plan, without a tower, evokes not only the ethos of English parish churches, but also elements of the gothicized German style going back to the Romanesque period. The specific stylistic combination represented in the cathedral's architecture is unique in Alberta. Several significant stained glass windows offset the robust architectural structure, including the work of the McCausland Company of Toronto, Spence Brothers of Montreal, and William Morris and Company of Merton Abbey in England. The stained glass windows entitled "I am the Good Shepherd," "The Raising of Jairus' Daughter," and "I am the Alpha and Omega" were present in the original 1884 wooden Church of the Redeemer, and were installed in the present building by McCausland and Company when the cathedral was built in 1905.

Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 461)

Character-Defining Elements
The character-defining elements of the Cathedral Church of the Redeemer include such features as:
- size, form, and massing of the building;
- rusticated Paskapoo sandstone used througout and extracted from the Oliver quarry;
- non load-bearing buttresses;
- heavy timber roof rafters and cross bracing supported by load-bearing masonry walls;
- original fish-scale roof cladding, the first metal roofing used in Calgary;
- arrangement of the interior of the space, including double transepts with separate articulating gable roofs, barrel vaulted nave with pine ceiling, lower side aisles, and gallery over the West end;
- deep rectangular chancel containing the pulpit, choir, and canon's stalls and terminating in polygonal apse enclosing the altar;
- simple pointed-arch, triple-lance windows without tracery;
- ornate oak memorial rood screen with gilded inscription dedicated by the Prince of Wales in 1919;
- elaborate woodwork throughout, particularly the oak reredos in the sanctuary;
- liturgical furnishings such as the altar, which incorporates panels of the original 1905 altar built by the Cushing Bros. firm, original oak pulpit, Bishop Pinkham's chair inset with his episcopal coat of arms;
- original 1906 Casavant Freres organ with refurbishments;
- stained glass windows throughout, including the work of McCausland Co., Spence Brothers, and William Morris and Co.;
- the 1935 Lady Chapel;
- landscaping including Paget Park on the east end of the cathedral, with its 1908 maple tree donated by the Canadian Pacific Railway.


Street Address: 604 - 1st Street SE
Community: Calgary
Boundaries: Lots 34 to 39 and a portion of Lot 40, Block 41, Plan A
Contributing Resources: Buildings: 1

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

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

Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
51.046672 -114.059922 GPS NAD 83

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type


Recognition Authority: Province of Alberta
Designation Status: Provincial Historic Resource
Date of Designation: 1977/07/13

Historical Information

Built: 1905 To 1905
Significant Date(s) N/A
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

The Cathedral Church of the Redeemer has been the centre of the Diocese of Calgary since it was constructed in 1905. Since 1889, the Bishop's seat has been housed in the first Church of the Redeemer. For many years, the present church was called Pro-Cathedral; in 1949, the "Pro" was eliminated as it was decided this structure was to be the permanent cathedral. This church represents the transition period in Gothic Revival churches from relatively simple design to a much more elaborate and sophisticated design. Although unusual for a Gothic Revival church, as it draws on the German type instead of the English or French style and contains no tower, it displays Gothic characteristics such as modified tri-windows and buttresses on the corners and sides. It was one of the earliest structures in Calgary to be designed with buttresses.

Additional Information

Object Number: 4665-0549
Designation File: DES 0461
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File: HS 19983
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. 461)
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