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Key Number: HS 24976
Site Name: St. Ambrose Anglican Church
Other Names:
Site Type: 1603 - Religious: Church, Cathedral or Chapel


ATS Legal Description:
Twp Rge Mer
13 6 4

Address: 505 - 5 Street SE
Number: 5
Street: 5 SE
Avenue: 5 SE
Town: Redcliff
Near Town:


Type Number Date View


Style: Gothic Revival
Plan Shape: Rectangular
Storeys: Storeys: 1
Foundation: Basement/Foundation Wall Material: Brick
Superstructure: Brick
Superstructure Cover:
Roof Structure: Medium Gable
Roof Cover:
Exterior Codes:
Exterior: Covering: burnt brick and bedford stone trim
Plain cornice and frieze, circular and gothic style windows highlighted by bedford stone trimmings and sugsills buttresses, elevated parapet and corbelled trim north elevation.
The church is a one and a half storey brick structure, the manse and parish hall are both wood frame buildings.
Interior: Wood pews, alter, wood beams on ceiling.
Environment: St. Ambrose church is located north and west of the central business dusiness district in a residential area. Some trees located on the site and along the boulevard in front of the church.
Condition: The building is in very good condition overall. There is a problem with water leakage in the basement. However this problem is presently being rectified. (Oct. 1986)
Alterations: This building has undergone very few changes over the years. The original design and fabric displayed can be put in the 85 - 90% range. (Oct. 1986)


Construction: Construction Date:
Usage: Usage Date:
Owner: Owner Date:
The Synod of the Diocese of Calgary.
Church of England
Architect: N/A
Builder: N/A
Craftsman: N/A
History: Although information is scarce concerning St. Ambrose, it is an acknowledged fact that this church characterizes the feel and character which has kept Redcliff unique from Medicine Hat. Its simple beauty and size make it one of Redcliff's most prized possessions and one of the most unique churches in the area. The type of brick construction present in the church is also very rare, unseen elsewhere in the Medicine Hat district.
* * *
H.C.U.B. Gibson was the first minister. The Church was built with money from England.

* * *
Building / Site Description:
The St. Ambrose Anglican Church is a one and a half storey brick structure which has been used for church services since its construction in 1914. The site also includes a manse and a parish hall both of which are wood frame buildings. The historical integrity of the church is very high because of the care shown by the congregation over the years in the maintenance of the building.

* * *
Historical Significance:
St. Ambrose was constructed in 1914 to house an institution which has been an important part of the social history of Redcliff from its early years as an urban community to the present day. The town of Redcliff was established in 1910 by the Stone Land Company. One of the town's principal economic functions was the production of bricks which were manufactured by the Redcliff Brick and Coal Company. Like the majority of Alberta's urban communities it rapidly expanded between 1910 and 1914.
The first Christian church services were conducted in 1907 by the Rev. Archibald MacLaren, a retired Medicine Hat Presbyterian Minister. In 1910 a Presbyterian Church congregation was organized. The organization of an Anglican Church congregation began in the summer of 1912 when a group of residents in the town decided that a congregation of the Church of England should be established. The first resident Minister was the Rev. H.C. Gibson from Maple Creek Saskatchewan. Rev. Gibson's tenure was one of growth for the congregation.

In 1913 the Redcliff Realty Co. offered to give the church four lots on the condition that a building worth $7,000 be erected within two years. The required amount, however, could not be raised with the result that the congregation opted to build a manse for the Minister. In the fall of 1913, Rev. Gibson went to England and while there appealed for funds to his friends and through his father, who was Dean in Bournemouth. He returned in the following spring to announce that he was able to raise $6,200. The contract for the new church was let to W. Rolfe of Redcliff and the first sod was turned on July 1, 1914. The clinker bricks were supplied by Redcliff Clay Products Company at a cost of $7 per thousand.

The Church was completed 1914. At its consecration, December 13, 1914, St. Ambrose Church was declared free of debt by Bishop Malcolm Lord, bishop of the Diocese of Qu'Appelle. The Church is dedicated to St. Ambrose, the saint of the Parish Church in Bournemouth, Hampshire, England, whose generous gifts had made the Church in Redcliff possible. Both the structure, by its use of materials produced by a notable local industry, and the congregation are deeply rooted in the region's history.

Architectural Significance:
St Ambrose Anglican Church was designed in the Gothic Revival Style, a style which was employed in church architecture in Alberta more frequently than any other between 1890 and 1930. Like all Gothic churches it incorporates the distinctive pointed arch to create the shape of the nave, windows and facade door. Decorative buttressing is also located on the west and east facades. This feature was used to emulate the structural buttressing which permitted construction of thin, light was that could be pierced by a greater number of large windows. The facade rose window usually filled with a stained glass motif was also a feature commonly found in Gothic Revival church designs.
St. Ambrose church is part of the early phase of the Gothic Revival in Alberta which was strongly influenced by the design of rural English parish churches. It has an overall squat appearance with a minimal amount of decoration and is basilica in plan. The interior features exposed wooden beams, which were meant to recall the exposed structural timber trusses often found in rural English Gothic design. St. Ambrose, along with St. Lukes Church in Red Deer is one of a small number of early Gothic churches constructed in Alberta. Fewer of Alberta's churches were built in the Early Gothic Revival Style than in the High Victorian Gothic, Late Gothic or Carpenter Gothic styles.

* * *
Draft Press Release
Edmonton, Alberta
The Honourable Dennis Anderson, Minister of Culture announced today that the St. Ambrose Anglican Church in Redcliff has been designated a Registered Historic Resource. In the social history of Alberta, the early establishment of Anglican Church congregations in the many new urban centers displayed a unique blend of new world initiative with old country sponsorship. St. Ambrose Anglican Church emerged in the growth of Redcliff, a town launched in 1910 by the Stone Land Company and soon a major production centre for the manufacture of bricks. But the congregation owed much to overseas assistance.
The organization of an Anglican Church congregation began in the summer of 1912 on the initiative of various local citizens. The first resident Minister was the Rev. H.C. Gibson from Maple Creek Saskatchewan. His leadership during the early attempts at raising funds to construct a church included an appeal for funds during a 1913 trip to England. Through the assistance of his friends and his father, who was Dean in Bournemouth, he was able to raise $6,200 before returning in the spring of 1914. The new church was consecrated December 13, 1914. It was dedicated to St. Ambrose, the patron saint of the Parish Church in Bournemouth, Hampshire, England, whose generous gifts made the church in Redcliff possible.


Status: Status Date:
Designation Status: Designation Date:
Registered Historic Resource
Provincial Historic Resource
Register: N/A
Record Information: Record Information Date:
K. Williams 1989/07/11


Alberta Register of Historic Places: 4665-0599
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