Montréal – Downtown Montréal: Cathédrale Christ Church
Image by wallyg
The reredos on the high altar, the focal point of Christ Church Cathedral, were dedicated at the end of World War I as a memorial to those who fell in the War. Familiar scenes from the life of our Christ are depicted in the lower part of the stone screen. Above them (left to right) stand St. George, St. Martin of Tours (on whose day the 1918 Armistice was signed), St. Lawrence (on whose day Jacques Cartier entered the river which he named after the saint), Christ the King, St. John Baptist (patron saint of Quebec and Canada), St. Nicholas of Myra (patron of sailors) and finally St. Michael the Archangel (patron of airmen).
Cathédrale Christ Church (Christ Church Anglican Cathedral), at 1444 avenue Union, was built in Neo-Gothic style from 1856 to 1859 by Frank Wills and consecrated in 1867. The current building replaces the original cathedral located on rue Notre-Dame that was destroyed by a fire in 1856. Christ Church has served as the cathedral for the Anglican Diocese of Montréal since it separated the after it separated from the Diocese of Québec, and is the regimental church of the Montréal infantry regiment The Canadian Grenadier Guards, and retired colours of the Regiment are on display in an alcove inside the cathedral.
The design, though acclaimed for its architecture, suffered from important engineering flaws. The soft ground could not support the heavy central stone tower, which began to subside and lean, so the steeple had to be removed in 1927. New foundations were poured in 1939, and in 1940, an anonymous donation permitted the construction of a much lighter steeple made of aluminum, molded to simulate the former stone spire. It is 28 metres high, attaining a height of 70 metres off the ground.
In 1987, some older buildings north of the Cathedral were demolished, and the land leased to developers who built the office tower and underground mall, La Place de La Cathédrale. During construction, braced with a complicated series of pre-stressed concrete columns and beams, which supported the building in mid-air while the shopping mall was excavated. The office tower includes space for the Diocesan offices, and the mall includes a Canadian Bible Society outlet, an Anglican bookstore and a space called the Undercroft which includes the cathedral’s Sunday school, drop-in centre, and practice rooms. The rent paid to the Church, approximately 0,000, helps to pay for the upkeep of the cathedral.