Description of Historic Place
Kildonan Presbyterian Church sits in a large, well-treed property on the northern outskirts of Winnipeg. The church, of solid limestone and now covered with stucco, was completed in 1854. It is surrounded by a historically important cemetery containing the graves of some of the Selkirk settlers, Manitoba's earliest European farmers, and many of their descendents. The City of Winnipeg's Grade I designation applies to the building on its footprint and the interior.
Kildonan Presbyterian Church, built in 1852-54, is the second-oldest standing church in Winnipeg, and the Mother Church of Western Canadian Presbyterianism. The church served some of the province's earliest European settlers, including many of the Selkirk settlers who arrived in the early 1800s and who inaugurated the first halting steps toward the development of the province's agricultural economy. Built almost 40 years after their arrival, Kildonan Presbyterian Church was a significant and proud achievement for these pioneers. In the City of Winnipeg the church is one of the few remaining tangible connections to this significant group. The structure, the work of well-known Red River Settlement-era stonemason Duncan McRae, is an early example of the Gothic Revival style, a familiar form of Protestant church architecture well known by the settlers, whose small parish churches in Scotland were the models here. In this instance, given the pioneer circumstances and the tenets of Presbyterianism, which called for restraint and even austerity in their buildings, the result is a modest interpretation of the style. Inside, the church retains most of its original features and details, all in good condition.
Source: City of Winnipeg Historical Buildings Committee Meeting, October 14, 1993
Key elements that define the important locational characteristics of Kildonan Presbyterian Church include:
- its placement on a large treed lot, facing south, surrounded on all sides by the gravestones of the church cemetery
Key elements that define the church's modest Gothic Revival style include:
- the simplicity of the design with its rectangular form, gable roof and large pointed windows on the east and west sides and in the balcony level of the south-facing gable end
- the contrasting textures of the rough-hewn stone walls, stuccoed in 1921, and the smooth-cut stone quoins and accenting around the windows
Key qualities that define the church's modest, but eloquent interior include:
- the spacious uninterrupted nave, with truncated gable ceiling and a small balcony at the south end with narrow access stairs
- the arrangement of the space, with aisles leading to the altar
- the palette of textures and colours, including light-hued plaster walls, planked ceiling painted white, simple square columns supporting the balcony, painted white, and contrasting woodwork stained dark brown, including floors, pews, pulpit, choir benches, tables, vestibule screen with upper edge carved with simple fleur-de-lis outlines, etc.
- the pointed arch entrance door, four stained-glass windows, clear-glass windows with multi-paned sashes (all openings deeply recessed) and memorial tablets hung on the walls