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Visting Christ Church Anglican Cathedral, Ottawa, Ontario: 19th Century Gothic Reaching For the Sky

Updated on February 24, 2020
Provincial flag of Ontario
Provincial flag of Ontario | Source
 Christ Church Anglican Cathedral in Ottawa at the end of Sparks Street
Christ Church Anglican Cathedral in Ottawa at the end of Sparks Street | Source

Muted echoes of the past

On raised ground giving commanding views of the Ottawa River, Christ Church Anglican Cathedral, Ottawa, Ontario is dominated by its spire, which, however, is already eclipsed by surrounding buildings (see photo, below).

Executed in stone and strongly characterized by its Gothic Revival styling, the building thus evidences many pinnacles and flying buttresses. Pointed window arching is particularly conspicuous, not least at its northern elevation, which has an already large pointed arch window which is itself enclosed by an even larger pointed arch frame.

Work on the present building by King McCord Arnoldi was begun in 1872 and completed in 1873. An earlier Anglican congregation had functioned since 1833. The present building was designated a Cathedral in 1897.

The colours of a number of military regiments have been kept at the Cathedral. The building has noted stained glass windows, including memorial work by Christopher Wallis in 1982 (1).

Christ Church Anglican Cathedral has been the scene of several historic funerals; one of these, on January 1, 1973, was for Nobel-prizewinning former Prime Minister of Canada Lester B. Pearson (1897-1972), whose diplomatic and political achievements and passing were memorably commemorated by the Very Reverend A. B. Moore in his quoting of lines by a Chinese poet: "mak(ing) his way into the distance...playing his flute as he goes" (2).

In turn, on the same occasion the streets outside Christ Church Anglican Cathedral were witness to a somewhat memorable — if muted — remonstration between former Prime Minister of Canada John G. Diefenbaker and a journalist when Mr. Diefenbaker, having emerged from among the mourners at Mr. Pearson's funeral in the Cathedral, claimed about his successor as Prime Minister: "He shouldn't have won the Nobel Prize" (3).

Christ Church Anglican Cathedral is located at 414 Sparks Street, Ottawa, Ontario.

February 24, 2020


(1) See also:

(2) The Very Reverend A. B. Moore, qu. in: Denis Smith, Rogue Tory: The Life and Legend of John G. Diefenbaker, Toronto, ON: Macfarlane Walter & Ross, 1995, p. 567.

(3) Denis Smith, op. cit., p. 567. On the passing in 1979 of Mr. Diefenbaker — with Lester Pearson a fellow Protestant, but with little else admitted to be in common — his funeral was also held at Christ Church Anglican Cathedral.

Some sourcing: Wikipedia

View from Queen Street : Christ Church Cathedral (Ottawa)
View from Queen Street : Christ Church Cathedral (Ottawa) | Source

Also worth seeing

In Ottawa itself, among the numerous visitor attractions are: the National War Memorial of Canada; Château Laurier; the Rideau Canal; Laurier House; Rideau Hall; the Bank of Canada Currency Museum; the Supreme Court of Canada Building, and many others.

Gatineau , Quebec (distance 1.8 kilometres); the Canadian Museum of Civilization (Musée canadien des civilisations), in Gatineau is Canada's most visited museum. Gatineau's Citizen's House (French: Masion du citoyen) has a noted art gallery and the Hall of the Nations (French: Hall des nations ) containing valuable cultural artifacts from around the world. Gatineau Park (French: Parc de la Gatineau) has exceptional recreational and scenic possibilities.


How to get there: Air Canada flies from various North American destinations to Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport / Aéroport international Macdonald-Cartier d'Ottawa; car rental is available; however, visitors may wish instead to use OC Transpo public transit for travel within the Ottawa / Gatineau area. Please note that some facilities may be withdrawn, without notice. For up to date information, please check with the airline or your travel agent. You are advised to refer to 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.

Map location of Ottawa, Ontario
Map location of Ottawa, Ontario | Source

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