Christ Church Cathedral – Then and Now Montreal
Christ Church Cathedral is an Anglican Gothic Revival building, and the seat of the Anglican Diocese of Montreal. The cathedral, built between 1857 and 1860, was designed by British architect Frank Wills, based on the14th century style gothic churches in England. Wills died before construction started, and Montreal architect, Thomas Seaton Scott was commissioned to carry out his design. The church had a steep gabled roof with a central tower and a tall spire. The western facade featured a rose window and a triple portal entrance. The building was completed in 1859, and the first service – Morning Prayer – was held in the new building, but problems started almost immediately. The heavy central tower started to sink in the soft ground, and by 1920 it was leaning 4 feet to the south. In 1927 the 3.5 million pound stone steeple was removed. In 1923, George Allan Ross designed alterations and in 1939 the foundations were poured for a new central tower. In 1940, an anonymous donation permitted the replacement of the original heavy steeple by a lighter version made of aluminum, and molded to simulate the former stone spire.
Over the years several changes have taken place; the timber roof was re-done in 1906, along with the installation of a marble floor. In 1938, the north porch was converted to a children’s chapel and in 1940, the south transept was changed into a memorial chapel. The north transept was changed into a baptismal chapel in 1985. Recent additions to the church included a choir gallery, built in 1980, and the church’s third organ, installed in 1981.
In the 1980s, a large real estate project was undertaken beneath the church. It consisted of a 34-floor tower built north of the cathedral, an underground parking, and two levels of retail stores – the Promenades Cathédrale.
Christ Church Cathedral is the regimental church of the Canadian Grenadier Guards and also houses the guards’ retired regimental colours. It was classified as a historical monument by the government of Quebec in 1988, and a National Historic Site of Canada in 1999.
The building is located at 635 St. Catherine Street West
Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, June 1999.