Description of Historic Place
Our Lady of Seven Sorrows Roman Catholic Church, completed in 1912, is a large fieldstone building in Camperville on Lake Winnipegosis. The provincial designation applies to the church, its cemetery and the grounds they occupy.
Our Lady of Seven Sorrows Roman Catholic Church, the largest Roman Catholic mission church in Manitoba, is fittingly known as the "Cathedral of the North." From its location on the shore of Lake Winnipegosis, its tall spire has been a landmark and welcome sight to lake travellers for nearly a century. The ambitious, handsomely detailed fieldstone structure, with its French-Canadian-influenced form, is a tribute to the faith, vision and determination of a diverse group of early parishioners, including the original Metis, nearby Aboriginals and settlers from Quebec who arrived in the 1880s, who all worked under the direction of Father Adelard Chaumont. The stately exterior has endured while the interior had to be rebuilt after a devastating 1930 fire.
Source: Manitoba Heritage Council Minute, May 26, 1990
Key elements that define the site character of Our Lady of Seven Sorrows Roman Catholic Church include:
- its location on the southern edge of the village of Camperville, with clear views from the church to Lake Winnipegosis to the east
- the building's east-west placement on a large open plot with an adjacent cemetery
Key exterior elements that define the structure's Roman Catholic Quebec-style character include:
- the high massive elongated form, based on a Latin cross plan and composed of a narrow gable-roofed central volume, lower shed-roofed aisles and shallow gabled-roofed transepts
- the vertically tiered main (west) facade with its stepped and slightly flared rooflines, high square tower topped by a belfry, spire and Latin cross, and tall narrow windows
- the thick fieldstone walls of moderately sized stones fixed in rough horizontal courses by thick, light grey mortar, with smooth-cut stone used to highlight window surrounds and gable-springers
- the Romanesque round-arched openings, including the double-door main entrance and fanlight, the single and paired tower and nave windows, the east side's basement and upper-level openings, etc.
- the additional fenestration provided by large oculi in the tower and transepts, etc.
- the tower details, including the belfry's thin classical columns, cornice and round-arched openings with keystones, the metal bell, the narrow metal-clad spire with blind lucarnes, etc.
- other details such as wide eaves, sheet metal sheathing on the elaborate cornices, raised gable ends and trim, the broad brick chimney, the stout metal-clad crosses on the transepts and rear gable end, etc.
Key elements that define the finely appointed character of the church's reconstructed interior include:
- the traditional plan incorporating a modest narthex, long nave, elevated sanctuary, sacristy and hall
-the spacious nave with a lofty central ceiling on large square wood columns with modest moulded pedestals and capitals, lower aisle ceilings and pews separated by centre and side aisles
- the large sanctuary marked by a broad arch and containing a wide service platform, etc.
- the striking west-end choir loft with a dramatic curved front of stained wood and scrolled detailing, etc.
- the soft natural light from well-placed coloured-glass windows recessed in the thick stone walls
- the attractive and carefully conceived use of finely finished wood on the pews, doors and floors, the twin balcony staircases with balustrades, etc.