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Visiting St. Paul's Cathedral, London, Ontario: intimate, 19th century Gothic

Updated on August 29, 2011
Provincial flag of Ontario
Provincial flag of Ontario | Source
Anglican St. Paul's Cathedral in London, Ontario
Anglican St. Paul's Cathedral in London, Ontario | Source
Map location of London, Ontario
Map location of London, Ontario | Source

Victorian architectural cameo

When you go to visit St Paul's Cathedral in London, Ontario, don't expect grandiose competition with its namesake St Paul's Cathedral, London, England. Instead, you will find a pleasing, 19th century structure in Gothic Revival style. Not quite the almost elephantine, colossal monument erected in the 17th century by Sir Christopher Wren, but nevertheless a thoroughly pleasing structure with an aura of its own.

Its architect was William Thomas (1799-1860). Other of his noted works in Ontario include St Michael's Cathedral, Toronto, Brock's Monument, Queenston, and St Lawrence Hall, Toronto. Architect Thomas actually proved quite versatile in his styles of building, but for this church in London the Gothic Revival style chosen proved to be very popular among those who commissioned many of his works.

A previous church existed, executed in wood, dating from 1834. This, however, was destroyed by fire. The extant red brick structure was commenced in 1844 and completed in 1846. Anglican services in London, Ontario, which activities led to the founding of this church, date from 1822, interestingly, under the leadership of a representative of the Diocese of Quebec.

On August 11, 1855, an Emancipation service was conducted at St Paul's in the presence of 700 African Americans, to commemorate their freedom.

This small, though striking, ecclesiastical edifice is the seat of the Anglican diocese of Huron, created in 1857. The land on which it stands served as a cemetery, prior to the building inception. Some of the old tombstones, dating from this period are still visible in the Cathedral grounds.

Perhaps not surprisingly, this fine structure is designated a Heritage Property by the City of London and is one of the major landmarks of Downtown London.

Also worth seeing

In London itself, Eldon House, dates from 1834. The Middlesex County Courthouse, also in Gothic Revival Style, dates from 1824-25. The Fanshawe Pioneer Village is a major visitor attraction.

Woodside, Kitchener (distance: 111.9 kilometres), the boyhood home of long-serving Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King, is a National Historic Site of Canada.


How to get there: Air Canada flies to London International Airport, from Toronto Pearson Aiport, from where there are wide North American and other connections. Car rental is available at London International Airport. VIA Rail serves London, connecting with Windsor and Toronto, and other cities. Some facilities may be withdrawn without notice. For up to date information, please check with the airline or your travel agent. Contact is advised with appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada

For your visit, these items may be of interest


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