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Key Number: HS 19592
Site Name: St. Joachim's Roman Catholic Church
Other Names:
Site Type: 1603 - Religious: Church, Cathedral or Chapel


ATS Legal Description:
Twp Rge Mer
52 24 4

Address: 9920-9924 - 110 Street
Number: 20-24
Street: 110
Avenue: 99
Town: Edmonton
Near Town:


Type Number Date View


Style: French-Canadian
Plan Shape: Rectangular with Apse
Storeys: Storeys: 1 1/2
Foundation: Basement/Foundation Wall Material: Stone
Superstructure: Undetermined Wood Frame
Superstructure Cover:
Roof Structure: Medium Gable
Roof Cover:
Exterior Codes: Bell Tower
Roof Trim - Eaves: Corbelled Cornice
Roof Trim - Special Features: Finial
Window - Sill Type: Plain Lug Sill
Window - Special Types: Round
Window - Pane Arrangements: Other
Exterior: Large bell tower with four pinnacles is a major feature of this church. Two corner pinnacles, lug sill under windows, round windows with radiating fan, layered brick finish under side roof. Roof covered with galvanized steel shingles.
Symmetrical massing with central arched entry; central tower; round arched multipane windows with stained glass; rose window; polygonal apse at east end. Bull's eye window.
Interior: Ceiling and wall wood panels, leaded stain glass windows, low relief sculpture on marble altar. Decorated with carved wood and Italian marble and plaster altars.
Environment: Neighbourhood: Oliver District On block formerly owned by Roman Catholic Arch Diocese and once occupied by a number of Catholic buildings. Immediately to the south is the Oblate Provincial House and to the south of that was the Immaculate Conception convent. In area of Catholic institutional buildings.
Alterations: 1912- Sacristy added. New entry doors; two enclosed entry porches; new front steps.


Construction: Construction Date:
Construction started
Construction ended
Usage: Usage Date:
St. Joachim's Roman Catholic Church
Owner: Owner Date:
De Marie Immaculee Des
Catholic Church
Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton
Parish of St. Joachim's
(fnd. by Order of les Oblats de Marie Imacul‚e)
Les Reverends Peres oblats
Territories Du Nord Ouest
Catholic Parish of St. Joachim
Sisters Faithful Companions of Jesus
La Corporation Archiepiscopal Catholique
Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton

Architect: F. Deggendorfer
Builder: N/A
Craftsman: N/A
History: The present church was constructed in 1898-1900. It was the third St. Joachim's Church to be built in this area. The preceding churches were erected in 1877 and 1886. (The original St. Joachim's Church was located within the Ft. Edmonton walls (1859). Since its construction, the present church has been active as the main church of French-Catholic Edmontonians. The heritage significance of this building lies in the fact that it is representative of one of the oldest parish traditions in Alberta. It is the oldest-standing Catholic church in the city and considered the mother-church of all other Catholic churches in Edmonton. It is the most historically important and one of the few remaining buildings from an unusual former grouping of large Catholic institutions. Although St. Joachim's architectural importance cannot be readily determined at this time, it is believed that its age, construction materials, and integrity, will, after further research, prove this building to be significant to the architectural heritage of Alberta.

* * *
The current Church of St. Joachim actually the fourth Edmonton building to bear that name. The first was a house-chapel in Fort Edmonton built in 1959 and the second a frame church which, between 1876 and 1886, stood on land donated by Malcolm Groat near Stony Plain Road between 121 and 123 Streets. The third was a wooden church constructed on 110 Street, further west on the same lot that the current church occupies, in 1886. By 1896 it became clear that the third Church of St. Joachim was too small for its growing congregation, and so Father Lacombe, the parish priest, proposed a larger, more solid brick building. Over $16,000 - a very handsome sum at the time - was collected for the new building from subscriptions, bazaars, and donations. In 1898 excavation began and on December 8, 1899 the first church service was held in the new structure. The economic boom in Edmonton after the turn of the century resulted in a larger, and increasingly diversified, Catholic congregation in the West End. By 1910 the 500 seat church was again too small. A large portion of what had been a traditionally French parish was now English-speaking, and so it was proposed that another church be built right next to St. Joachim to serve their needs. In 1917 Archbishop Emile L‚gal formed St. Joseph's parish, but two services with two sets of clergy for two distinct congregations continued at St. Joachim's until 1925, when the crypt of St. Joseph's Cathedral was finished. St. Joachim's Church was founded by the Order of les Oblats de Marie Imacul‚e (O.M.I.), a Quebec-based religious order, and so it not surprising that the building is very similar in style to 19th century Quebec churches. The most distinctly French-Canadian feature is the galvanized steel roof. Other noteworthy elements of the brick building include a three-towered facade, an oeil de boeuf window (literally, a bull's eye window), and arches with prominent keystones and voussoirs. The interior is richly decorated with carved wood and Italian marble and plaster altars.

* * *
St. JOACHIM CHURCH (1899) City's Oldest Catholic Church You don't have to be a believer to feel a certain reverence in St.Joachim Church, one of Edmonton's oldest buildings. A sense of awe is triggered by the subtle yet majestic Old World sights and smells of this Provincial Historic Resource built in 1899. The smell of aging wood and prayer books combined with the arched fir ceiling, elaborate woodwork, religious icons, and sculptured altars could overwhelm even the most hardened atheist. St. Joachim is Edmonton's oldest Roman Catholic church. It was constructed of red brick with a 120-foot high central tower and flanking pinnacles. Other features include a galvanized steel roof, a 31-foot high arched ceiling, arched stained glass windows, and imported Italian marble and plaster altars with built-in electrical lighting. There is a carved octagonal oak pulpit with a base that tapers to a diameter of eight inches. A sacristy was added in 1912. The 500-seat treasure remains much the same as when it was built for $15,000. Reverend Father Maurice Beauregard estimated its value at more than $2 million in 1986, with the three altars alone accounting for half that amount. Beauregard said that the details make the church a magnificent setting for a wedding - 'when they play the bass on the pipe organ, the windows shake.' Creaky wooden steps lead to the original pipe organ in the choir loft, which affords a commanding view of the sancturary and altar. Patterned after Quebecois-style churches of the 19th century, St. Joachim is Edmonton's historical link with the colonization and missionary efforts of the order of Oblates of Mary Immaculate in Western Canada. As the Oblate's city beachhead, it is the mother church of all Edmonton Catholic parishes. For this reason, there was no negative response to its historical designation by Alberta Culture in 1978. St. Joachim's roots date back to 1854 when the parish was started by the legendary Father Albert Lacombe inside the confines of Fort Edmonton. The parish moved outside the fort some 22 years later when a church was built on Stony Plain Road between 121st and 123rd Streets. Another church, a white frame structure, was built in 1886, near the site of the present building. When the current St. Joachim opened, Edmonton's Catholic population was largely French, Metis or Native, but when the city experienced its economic boom prior to the First World War, the size of the English-speaking congregation grew correspondingly. As a result St. Joachim served both French and English-speaking congregations until after the First World War when Archbishop Henry Joseph O'Leary commissioned St. Joseph's Cathedral for English-speaking Catholics. St. Joachim was the centre of a Catholic enclave which included the first Misericordia Hospital, a convent, seminary and a Catholic school. Only the church and Grandin School remain.

* * *
The new Roman Catholic church, in aid of which a bazaar will be held tomorrow and two succeeding days, is rapidly approaching completion. It will certainly be an ornament to the town as well as a credit to the congregation erecting it. It is erected on the west side of Ninth Street, H.B. reserve, on the Roman Catholic mission block. The building is of brick. The design is romanesque. The dimensions are: Main part 46 x 74. The tower projects 6 feet from the main building and forms a square of 15 feet, above the roof. The chancel in rear projects 20 feet, and is octagonal form. The interior is divided into one middle nave 24 feet wide, and two side naves each 10 feet wide. The side walls are 22 feet high from the floor. The height of the ceiling at the centre is 30 feet. The basement is the full size of the building and is 8 feet from floor and ceiling. The foundation walls are of stone and the footings of concrete. The walls from the ground to the floor level of the church are of jointed rubble, above that of brick with concrete facings. The steeple will measure 120 feet from the ground. The whole roof is covered with galvanized steel shingles. The part of the church at the street entrance will have two galleries; the lower one for the church choir and organ, and the upper for the use of the nuns. The heating plant will consist of two improved furnaces of the highest capacity obtainable. The tower has been completed as far as the bell floor. The steeple will be set up next season. The brick and carpenter work of the structure is finished and the roof progressing. As soon as the roof is completed the interior fittings will be put in. The total cost when completed will be about $15,000. F. Deggendorfer, architect.

* * *
St. Joachim's Church can be considered as the Mother church of all susequent churches founded in Edmonton. This church served as the main institution for the French-speaking community in Edmonton, prior to 1890. In 1854, the first bishop to arrive at Fort Edmonton was Bishop Tache O.M.I. of St. Boniface, Manitoba. Bishop Tache gave the Fort's mission the name of St. Joachim. The mission began through the occasional visits of Fr. Thibault to the Fort to minister to the spiritual needs of the half-breeds employed by the Hudson's Bay Company. Fr. Thibault came to the fort especially when the native Cree and Blackfoot tribes arrived in large groups to barter their furs and meat. The Indians, who oft times on these occasions presented a potential threat, were restrained by the authority of the missionary, whom they always respected. The presence of a priest was urgently needed by the officers in charge of the Fort at these times. Prior to 1854, no chapel existed within the Fort. Rowand, who was the Hudson's Bay Company factor, gave one of the small houses within the pallisades to Fr. A. Lacombe, which was transformed into a house-chapel. Fr. A. Lacombe came west in 1852. Mr. William Christie, the representative of the Hudson's Bay Company assigned to this district, built a chapel for the missionaries in 1857. The Oblate Fathers from Lac St. Anne and St. Albert often came to take up temporary residence within the Fort. In 1875, after a peace treaty was signed between the Government and the natives, the North West Mounted Police were established with the Fort. The new officer in charge of the Fort, thanked the Oblate Fathers for the services they rendered in the past, but for which there was no further need. In October 1876, another chapel was erected outside the boundaries of the Fort. (The mission kept the name of St. Joachim). The materials of the first chapel were used to build this chapel, which was erected on 9 acres of property donated by Mr. Malcolm Groat. Reverend Father Blanchet, who for many years resided at St. Albert, was appointed in charge of the services of the St. Joachim's mission. In 1882 the Hudson's Bay Company divided its land into town lots and put them on the market. An entire block was bought by the Oblate Fathers. On October 1st, 1883, Reverend Grandin assumed charge of the St. Joachim's mission. At this time, the Catholic population was steadily increasing, therefore accomodation was urgently needed, and a beautiful chapel was erected near the house of the missionary. When this was established, the mission assumed a degree of importance. In 1890 Fr. Grandin was appointed to Lac La Biche and Fr. L. Fouquet of British Columbia succeeded him. In 1895 Fr. Lacombe was appointed Parish Priest of St. Joachim's. His enthusiastic work influenced the erection of a substantial brick veneered presbytery. In 1897, Fr. Leduc became the new priest in charge of St. Joachim's. He decided it was time to build a better church suited for the importance of the Catholic parishioners. In the following year excavation began for the foundation of the present handsome church of St. Joachim's. The St. Joachim's church was designed in a French Provincial style, with corner stone dated 1899. The blessing was solemnly given by Most Rev. A. Langevin, Archbishop of St. Boniface. The Most Rev. Henry Grandin succeeded the bishop of St. Albert after he resigned as Vicar of Missions. Rev. Grandin chose to reside at St. Joachim's presbytery, which became the Vicarial or Provincial House of the order of the Oblates. St. Joachim did not only serve as the Provincial House for Alberta, but it also served as the Provincial House for Saskatchewan. The Church of St. Joachim, which was now attended by both English-speaking and French-speaking parishioners, proved too small for the increasing size of the congregation as well as the variations of language spoken by the catholic population. In 1913 Bishop Legal decided to divide St. Joachim's parish along ethnic lines. St. Joachim remained the community of the French-speaking catholics and the new parish of St. Joseph was formed for the English-speaking catholics. St. Joseph's parish contained a cathedral, which was erected in 1925 especially for the English-speaking parishioners. The St. Joachim's church is a significant part of Edmonton's history because it identifies with the arrival of the first French-Canadians into this city.

* * *
With the appointment of the present Archbishop the number of secular priests in the Province will increase. For eighty years the Oblates governed and manned the diocese of what is now Alberta. In their long and honorable history here and elsewhere in Western Canada they have amply justified the hopes of Provencher and Tach‚, and their great sacrifices and achievements will never be forgotten by the people of the West. ST. JOACHIM'S, EDMONTON: As we have seen, Fathers Blanchet and Demers passed through Edmonton in 1838 and Father Thibault was there in 1842. For the next fifteen years the priests from St. Anne often visited Edmonton. The Journals of the Fort frequently relate arrival and departure of Fathers Lacombe, Remas and Bourassa, but as yet there was not a permanent priest. For example, there is an entry in the Journal of March 10, 1856, as follows: 'Messrs. Moberly and John Sinclair, accompanied by Abraham Satois, went on a jaunt to Lac St. Anne to bring back some carts left there last fall as well as to confess their sins.' Rev. Robt. Rundle was often a visitor to the fort in those days. In 1857 a mission was begun at Edmonton. Chief Factor William Christie gave permission for the establishment of a chapel within the walls of the fort, and a house for the use of the missionary. One of the priests either of St. Albert or Lac St. Anne were in charge until 1865, when a school was built and Father Scollen took charge. Eleven years later (1876) the chapel was removed outside of the fort. Mr. Malcolm Groat, ex-employee of the Hudson's Bay Company, donated nine acres in what has been since known to the people of Edmonton as the 'Groat Estate'. Here another chapel was built from the materials of the old chapel. Rev. Father Blanchet was put in charge, but resided at St. Albert. In 1883 a new chapel was built on the present site of St. Joachim's Church, and Father Grandin, a nephew of the bishop, became the parish priest. He remained until 1890, and was followed by Father Fauquet, who was succeeded by Father Lacombe. The good father longed to go back to his hermitage at Pincher Creek, and gladly gave up his charge at St. Joachim's to his old friend, Father Leduc. During Leduc's pastorate the present St. Joachim's Church was erected. Father Jan, who had assisted Father Leduc for a number of years, succeeded to the charge in 1904. Then followed Fathers Hetu and Therien, 1906; Father Naessens, 1907; Fathers Lemarchand, Merer and Tavernier. The congregation of the Faithful Companions of Jesus founded a boarding school beside the mission in 1888 and in 1895 the Grey Nuns established a hospital, the nucleus of the splendid hospital on Victoria Avenue today. They were followed in 1901 by the Sisters of Mercy of the Misericordia Hopital. The original parish of St. Joachim's has been divided several times as Edmonton increased in area and population. The first parish was the Immaculate Conception organized in 1905 by Father Hetu; then Sacred Heart to accommodate the English speaking parishioners of the Immaculate Conception, in 1911. A new church was built for the purpose in 1913. It is interesting to observe that Father Roque, incumbent of the Immaculate Conception, was the first secular priest in Edmonton. The parish of St. Anthony (Strathcona) was founded in 1895, and served from St. Joachim's until 1901, when it became independent. Priests in charge have been Father Nordmann, 1901-1905; Father McQuaid, 1906; Father Jan again, 1907; Father McQuaid 1908-1911; Father Lemarchand, 1912-1914; Father Torquinet.

* * *
The actual St. Joachim Church is the fourth in Edmonton to bear that name. The first one was a house-chapel erected in 1859 in Fort Edmonton on orders from J.W. Christie, Chief Factor of the Hudson's Bay Co. and at the expense of the latter. The second was built on land donated by Malcolm Groat in his estate and on Stony Plain Road approximately at 122 Street. This was in 1887. The third one rose in 1886 immediately north of the present one. The excavation for the latter one, or the fourth still existing, was completed in the summer of 1898 under the direction of Fr. Hippolyte Leduc O.M.I., the then Parish Priest. In the spring of 1899 the foundation masonry was laid. As the year progressed the wooden frame gradually rose upon the foundation and the brick facing was added so that the nave and sanctuary could be blessed and used on the morning of December 8, 1899. Part of third church was moved close by to serve as a sacristy. It served as such till Fr. Pierre Cozanet, the then Parish Priest, had the actual one added to the west of the church in 1912. In 1901 the belfry was completed. In 1903 the stained-glass windows were installed. In December 1907 Archbishop Legal O.M.I. consecrated the simili-marble altar erected at the cost of $2000 at the time of the Rectorship of Fr. Albert Naessens O.M.I. In 1912, besides the addition of the sacristy, the Casavant pipe organ was placed in the choir loft and the basement was enlarged to serve as a parish hall. From 1910, the English-speaking Catholics were becoming quite numerous so that separate liturgies had to be arranged under the presidency of a Curate of their tongue. In 1915 Fr. Alphonse Lemarchand O.M.I. had a basement dug close by and directly west. (Till last year or 1976, when ground leveling occured because of the construction of the new rectory north of the church, part of the cement footings could still be seen at ground level). It was to be called St. Joseph's Church. Fr. Lemarchand tried to get funds from Eastern Canada at least to cover the basement so that services could therein be held, but the war was an insuperable obstacle and nothing more could be done. Hence, from December 1916 till the opening of the actual St. Joseph's cathedral at the corner of 113th Street and Jasper Avenue, in 1925, St. Joachim's Church served a dual Parish with two Rectors, one French speaking and one English speaking. The following Oblates, in succession, were the English speaking Pastors: J. Reynolds, helped by Fr. Murphy; J. McCaffrey; G. Patton and J. MacCarthy. Very little if anything has changed in the church since 1899 as to decorations and furniture and structure.

* * *
One storey, brick church with central tower, side pinnacle round arched windows, and sacristy (added ca. 1912). Design based on that of early Quebec churches. Near original appearance with elaborate interior. Apparently in good condition.

The present church was constructed in 1898-99. It was 3rd St. Joachim's Church to be built in this area. The preceding churches were erected in 1877 and 1886. (The original St. Joachim's Church was located within the Ft. Edmonton walls (1859).) Since its construction, the present church has been active as the main church of French-Catholic Edmontonians.

The heritage significance of this building lies in the fact that it is representative of one of the oldest parish traditions in Alberta. It is the oldest-standing Catholic church in the city and considered the mother-church of all other Catholic churches in Edmonton. It is the most historically important and one of the few remaining buildings from an unusual former grouping of large Catholic institutions. Although St. Joachim's architectural importance cannot be readily determined at this time, it is believed that its age, construction materials, and integrity, will, after further research, prove this building to be significant to the architectural heritage of Alberta.

This church is of historical importance to the province for its unusual parish tradition, continuous from 1854. St. Joachim's parish is the oldest R.C. parish in Edmonton and among the first of any denomination established in Alberta. Although the present church was the fourth St. Joachim's to be built, it was the progenitor of all other Catholic churches in this city and is the oldest-standing R.C. church in Edmonton. It has held a prominent position in the diocese. St. Joachim's is historically the most important building of a rare grouping of large Catholic institutions, all formerly situated on a few adjacent blocks. This once included 2 hospitals, convents, rectories/seminaries, and schools. The church is one of the few remaining of this group.

* * *
DRAFT August 14, 1978 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Edmonton, Alberta
The oldest-standing Roman Catholic Church in Edmonton, representing one of Alberta's oldest parishes, has been designated a Provincial Historic Resource, it was announced by Hosrst A. Schmid, Minister of Culture. St. Joachim's Church of 9920 - 110 Street was constructed of brick in 1898-99. It was preceded by three other smaller churches by the same name, the first constructed within the walls of Fort Edmonton in 1859. The parish itself was established in 1854. The Church features a brick central tower, side pinnacles, round arched windows, and a sacristy added in 1912. The design is based on that of early Quebec churches. The elaborate interior contains leaded stained glass windows and decorative wood panelling. Since its construction, St. Joachim's has been the main church of French-Catholic Edmontonians. It is the most historically important and one of the few remaining buildings from an unusual former grouping of large Catholic institutions. This once included; two hospitals, convents, schools and rectories, all within a few blocks. Considered the Mother-Church of all other Roman Catholic churches in Edmonton, St. Joachim's will continue as a place of worship.

* * *
The oldest standing Roman Catholic Church in Edmonton, St. Joachim's Roman Catholic Church represents a parish tradition dating back to 1854. The present was preceded by three smaller ones of the same name, the first constructed within the walls of Fort Edmonton in 1859. St. Joachim's Roman Catholic Church was constructed of brick in 1898-99. Designed by a local architect, it resembles early Quebec churches with its central tower, two side pinnacles and round arched windows. St. Joachim's was formerly the centre of a rare grouping of large Catholic institutions including two hospitals, convents, rectories/seminaries and schools, of which few remain. Mother-Church of all other Roman Catholic churches in Edmonton, St.Joachim's Roman Catholic Church was declared a Provincial Historic Resource on September 15, 1978 upon the recommendation of the Honourable Horst A. Schmid, Minister of Culture. 22 November 1978 Location: 9920 - 110 Street 137 words Edmonton, Alberta


Status: Status Date:
Designation Status: Designation Date:
Municipal A List
Provincial Historic Resource

Register: A78
Record Information: Record Information Date:
K. Williams 1989/06/12


Alberta Register of Historic Places: 4665-0515
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