Description of Historic Place
The parish church of St. Simon and St. Jude is the spiritual centre for the Roman Catholic community of Tignish, PEI. The brick High Gothic style building was created from local materials on spacious grounds and includes a nearby parochial house. The registration includes the footprint of the building.
St. Simon and St. Jude Roman Catholic Church is valued for its High Gothic style; as an example of the work of the famed New York architect, Patrick Charles Keely in Prince Edward Island; and for its contribution to the community of Tignish.
The building is a significant PEI example of the ecclesiastical architecture of Patrick Charles Keely (1816-1896). Originally from County Tipperary in Ireland, Keely held a virtual monopoly on Catholic Church construction in America in the 1870s and 1880s. His work can be seen in nearly 600 churches from Brooklyn, New York to Boston, Massachusetts and from Charleston, South Carolina to Halifax, Nova Scotia and even into Iowa.
Island priest and later Bishop Peter McIntyre initiated the construction of this church by following a Keely design.
The substantial building was built of brick and the youth of the parish worked diligently to furnish the lime and sand required to make the mortar and over 500,000 bricks used during construction. When the building was completed, one exhuberant young man celebrated by climbing to the top of the spire!
He was not alone in marvelling at the new church. Island surveyor and later resident of Beaconsfield in Charlottetown, Henry Jones Cundall, declared to his diary on July 5, 1860: "...I went up the spire as far as the ladder would permit inside where a very extensive view is obtained... a very handsome church nearly finished." A year later, he would return and remark on its stained glass windows. These were installed by the New York firm, Morgan and Brothers. He also took several photographs which today provide us with the earliest glimpse of the structure.
By 1882, the Louis Mitchell pipe organ was installed and in 1885, the interior of the church was decorated in religious scenes and life sized statues of the twelve apostles by the Montreal artist, F. Meloche.
Today, this fine church is cherished by its community and continues to showcase the artistic talents of an earlier age.
Source: Culture and Heritage Division, PEI Department of Communities, Cultural Affairs and Labour, Charlottetown, PE C1A 7N8
File #: 4310-20/S6
The heritage value of the church is shown in the following character-defining elements:
- the steeply pitched roof
- the pointed arch windows and doors
- the corner and side buttresses
- the local brick construction
- the tall entrance tower with spire topped by a cross