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Wesley United Church

St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, A1E, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1989/07/21

View of the main facade of Wesley United Church, 101 Patrick Street, St. John's, NL.  Taken July 2005.; Nikki Hart/HFNL 2005
101 Patrick Street, St. John's, NL.
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Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1906/01/01 to 1908/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2005/07/26

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Wesley United Church is a wooden, Queen Anne style church located at corner of Patrick Street and Hamilton Avenue in the west end of St. John's. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

Wesley United Church has been designated a Municipal Heritage Structure for its aesthetic and historical values.

Wesley United Church is aesthetically valuable because it is a fine example of Queen Anne architecture. It features many elements of this style, including varying roof forms and towers, pediments, columns and arched doors and windows. This church has a grand main entrance, with two inset arched doors that have tracery in their transoms. The church has rounded towers with arched windows, and the front façade features a Romanesque arched tri-window with circular motifs and this is complimented by the circular window located high in the gable. Wesley United Church has a tall steeple which is set off by eaves brackets and corner buttresses with pyramidal peaks. It also has an adjoining building which houses the radio station VOWR (Voice of Wesley Radio).

Wesley United Church is historically valuable because of its age and its association with the radio station VOWR that operates from an adjoining building. In 1907 work began on the church, and it opened on June 26, 1908. A notable appointment to the church was an ornamental window inscribed to the memory of Reverend George Boyd who was a great proponent for constructing this church. Wesley United was opened and officially dedicated by Reverend Dr. Albert Carman, General Superintendent of the Methodist Church of Canada. The church was named for the founder of Methodism, John Wesley.

Its role as a pioneer of radio broadcasting in Newfoundland is singularly noteworthy. Radio Station VOWR was the brainchild of Reverend Joseph G. Joyce, minister at Wesley Church from 1922-1930. Joyce had been a radio enthusiast from its advent and early in his ministry saw its unique possibilities as a vehicle of communication in the service of religion. He convinced the congregation of the benefits to be derived from a church affiliated broadcasting station and to raise the funds necessary to acquire one. VOWR (then 8-WMC) was launched on July 20, 1924 from the church. Wesley United Church holds a very special place in the history of communications in Newfoundland and in Canada.

Further, this church is also significant because the radio station was the first station to broadcast religious services and election results to Newfoundlanders. The station was also an important link during two tragedies. It was the only communications link to the Burin Peninsula during the 1929 Tidal Wave and helped in rescuing survivors of the 1931 Viking Disaster. The radio station broadcasts from an adjoining but separate building located at the side of the church.

Source: City of St. John's Archives, unnumbered property file, St. John's - Wesley United Church

Character-Defining Elements

All those elements that define the building's Queen Anne design including:
-varying roof forms;
-columns and pediments;
-brackets and dentils;
-shape, size and placement of windows;
-original double covered arched entrance with wooden doors, decorative mouldings, multi-pane fan windows and columns;
-all other original doorways with multi-pane fan windows;
-two front facade turrets;
-90 foot tower, spire and finial;
-all interior features (woodwork, stain and decorative glass, layout of pews and alter) associated with the original design of the church;
-the adjoining VOWR radio station building; and
-size, massing, dimensions and orientation of building.



Newfoundland and Labrador

Recognition Authority

City of St. John's

Recognition Statute

City of St. John's Act

Recognition Type

City of St. John's Heritage Building, Structure, Land or Area

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Building Social and Community Life
Religious Institutions

Function - Category and Type



Religion, Ritual and Funeral
Religious Facility or Place of Worship

Architect / Designer

W. J. Vincent



Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

City of St. John's Archives, Railway Coastal Museum, 3rd Floor, P.O. Box 908, St. John's, NL A1C 5M2

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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