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Sainte Marie Church

1713 Higway No. 1, Church Point, Nova Scotia, B0W, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2001/01/18

Rear elevation, Sainte Marie Church, Church Point, NS, 2004.; Heritage Division, NS Dept. of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2004.
Rear Elevation
Main elevation, Sainte Marie Church, Church Point, NS, 2004.; Heritage Division, NS Dept. of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2004.
Main Elevation
Front and side elevations, Sainte Marie Church, Church Point, NS, 2004.; Heritage Division, NS Dept. of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2004.
Front and Side Elevations

Other Name(s)

Sainte Marie Church
Ste. Marie Church
Eglise Ste. Marie
Saint Mary's Church

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1903/01/01 to 1905/12/31

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2006/05/18

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Sainte Marie Church is an imposing French Romanesque Revival style church located adjacent to the campus of the Université Sainte-Anne, the only French university in Nova Scotia. It is reputed to be the largest wooden building in North American. It is an important cultural landmark for the Acadian community of Church Point, NS and beyond. Both the church and the lands are included in the provincial designation.

Heritage Value

Sainte Marie Church is valued for its architecture and as a cultural landmark.

Construction of Sainte Marie Church was completed in 1905, based on the designs of French architect Auguste Regneault and overseen by local master carpenter Léo Melanson. Melanson constructed several other wood frame churches in the area and was awarded a medal in 1944 by Pope Pius XII for his work on Sainte Marie. Its construction owes much to the resident priest of the time, Father Pierre-Marie Dagnaud of the Eudist Order. This church is the third church to be built on the site to serve the local Catholic congregation who were the descendants of the Acadian families who arrived in the area in 1769 from Massachusetts. These families survived the 1755 Deportation and returned to Nova Scotia on foot. Unable to return to their original homes, which had been burned or occupied by English-speaking settlers, this group of displaced Acadians resettled in the Church Point area.

Sainte Marie Church is unique within Nova Scotia and is thought to be the largest wooden building in North America. Regneault’s design incorporated French and Romanesque Revival influences. The former is demonstrated by the overall plan form, the general building massing, the spires and the interior rib valuated ceilings. The round headed windows and limited articulation of the exterior elevations are typical of the Romanesque style. Both the interior and the exterior of the church remain relatively unaltered. The high vaulted ceilings combined with the large nave and transepts give the visitor, upon entering, a sense of grandeur and awe. The sheer size of the church gives it a dominating appearance at the 185 foot spire can be seen from miles around.

The church is both an architectural landmark and represents Acadian culture and history in Nova Scotia.

Source: Provincial Heritage Property File no. 247.

Character-Defining Elements

Character-defining elements of Sainte Marie Church include:

- wood cladding;
- location close to the campus of the Université Sainte-Anne;
- wood framing.

Character-defining elements of Sainte Marie Church that relate to its Romanesque Revival style include:

- windows with label mouldings and stained glass;
- long, double belfry openings
- tower with round headed window;
- rectangular windows in the turrets and across the centre of the tower;
- interior arches supported by large round pillars with ornate Corinthian capitals;
- band of ornamental arches under clerestory windows running around the entire perimeter of the church.

Character-defining elements of Sainte Marie Church that relate to its French architectural influence include:

- two-storey, five-sided chancel extension;
- two large turrets flanking central steeple
- four small turrets at base of roof spire

Interior character-defining elements of Sainte Marie Church include:

- high vaulted ceilings;
- large nave and transepts;
- nine flower-edged tableaux on central ceiling vaults;
- crystal chandelier from 1828 church;
- 41 stained glass windows, three bronze bells, main altar and Stations of the Cross, all imported from France.

Recognition

Jurisdiction

Nova Scotia

Recognition Authority

Province of Nova Scotia

Recognition Statute

Heritage Property Act

Recognition Type

Provincially Registered Property

Recognition Date

2001/01/18

Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

n/a

Theme - Category and Type

Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Architecture and Design
Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Philosophy and Spirituality

Function - Category and Type

Current

Leisure
Museum

Historic

Religion, Ritual and Funeral
Religious Facility or Place of Worship

Architect / Designer

Auguste Regneault

Builder

Leo Melanson

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Provincial Heritage Property Program files, 1747 Summer Street, Halifax, NS, B3H 3A6

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier

00PNS0223

Status

Published

Related Places

n/a

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