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Christ's Church Cathedral

252, James St., Hamilton, Ontario, L8R, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1992/07/10

View of the front of Christ's Church Cathedral – 2000; OHT – 2000
Exterior view of Christ's Church Cathedral – 2000
Detail of the seven light window with a Gothic rose window – 1993; OHT – 1993
Stained glass in Christ's Church Cathedral – 1993
View looking east towards the alter – 1996; OHT – 1996
Interior view of Christ's Church Cathedral – 1996

Other Name(s)

Christ's Church
Christ's Church Cathedral

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1852/01/01 to 1873/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2007/11/01

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The building at 252 James Street North, known as Christ's Church Cathedral, is situated at James Street North and Barton Street in the City of Hamilton. The sandstone building was designed in the Decorated Gothic style by architects William Thomas and Henry Langley and was constructed in stages from 1852-1873.

The exterior of the building and select elements of the interior, as well as the scenic character of the property, are protected by an Ontario Heritage Trust conservation easement. The property is also designated by the City of Hamilton under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act (By-law No. 86-313).

Heritage Value

Located at the intersection of James Street North and Barton Street, Christ's Church Cathedral is a prominent landmark in the City of Hamilton. Set back from the street, the cathedral has a forecourt framed by adjacent buildings.

Christ's Church Cathedral is significant for its association with the development of the Anglican community in Hamilton and was built on the original site of the first Anglican Church in Hamilton. The original church was designed by Robert Charles Wetherell and was built in 1835. In 1852, the congregation looked to William Thomas (1799-1860) to make changes to Wetherell's church. The church did not have the money to execute all of the Thomas design, and much to Thomas' dismay an addition was haphazardly tacked on to the church. The awkward addition gave the church the nickname “the humpback church”. In 1873 the church hired Henry Langley (1836-1907) to finish the renovations in anticipation of the appointment of Christ's Church as the cathedral for the Anglican Diocese of Niagara (established 1875). Langley contributed a new nave to the Thomas chancel. The chancel was extended by Hamilton architect W.P. Whitton in 1925 as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations.

Christ's Church Cathedral is a significant example of an English Decorated Gothic church, with contributions from prominent architects William Thomas and Henry Langley. The church is built of sandstone exposed on the exterior as dressed ashlar with stepped buttresses dividing the walls into bays on the north, south and west sides. The nave and chancel have gabled ends with parapets and pinnacles on the lines of the buttresses. The nave has splayed stone reveals and below the eaves there is a stone corbelled course with small brackets. The east end of the church has stone coping to the gable and the pinnacles have plain tops. The west end has raking parapets over the aisles flanking a central gable. Four buttresses have elaborate pinnacles with decorated finishes. The main window on the west and the aisle windows sit atop a stone stringer course. The windows of the church have splayed surrounds. The three doors on the west have pointed-arch surrounds with paired oak doors with carved tracery lights overtop. The nave and chancel have pitched roofs, and the aisles have lean-to roofs. There are four chimney stacks with decorated tops; two at the east end of the nave, and two over the second buttress. The church has a five-bay aisled nave and three-bay raised chancel arcade leading to the ambulatory. The masonry nave arcade columns support a clerestory above with two pointed-arch openings per bay with quatrefoil tracery. The ribbed barrel-vaulted plaster ceiling has small groined vaults over the lights. The ceiling is decorated with carved bosses and corbels. There are single two-light pointed-arch stained-glass windows per bay in the aisle walls with simple wood tracery inspired by the early English Gothic style. The chancel and ambulatory arcade supports a four-light stone tracery window in each side bay and decorated wood, hammer-beam truss roof over a sloping coffered ceiling. Four centre-point chancel arches frame the east window with a seven-light stone tracery window with a Gothic-rose-inspired window. The windows of the west aisle have a trefoil tracery. There is a carved Caen stone reredos at the east end behind the wood altar. There is a wrought-iron parclose screen between the chancel arcading.

Source: OHT Easement Files

Character-Defining Elements

Character defining elements that contribute to the heritage value of Christ's Church Cathedral include:
- prominent position in downtown Hamilton
- forecourt
- proximity to the rectory and Sunday school on the property
- association with the development of the Anglican community in Hamilton
- association with architects William Thomas and Henry Langley
- buttresses that divide the north, south and west sides of the church
- parapet gables of the nave and chancel
- splayed stone reveals and parapets at the lines of the buttress of the nave
- stone corbelled course with small brackets
- raking parapets at the west end of the church
- stone stringer course on the west side
- splayed window surrounds
- paired oak doors with pointed-arch surrounds
- pitched roofs of the nave and chancel
- lean-to roofs of the aisles
- four chimney stacks with decorated tops
- symmetrical nave with side aisles
- raised chancel arcade
- masonry columns in the nave that support the clerestory
- quatrefoil tracery in the nave
- ribbed barrel-vaulted plaster ceiling with small groin vaults
- carved bosses and corbels
- pointed-arch stained-glass windows in the aisles with wood tracery
- chancel and ambulatory arcade
- stone tracery windows in each side bay
- hammer-beam truss roof
- coffered ceiling
- seven-light stone tracery window with inlaid Gothic rose window
- west aisle windows with trefoil tracery
- carved Caen stone reredos
- wrought-iron parclose screens




Recognition Authority

Ontario Heritage Trust

Recognition Statute

Ontario Heritage Act

Recognition Type

Ontario Heritage Foundation Easement

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1992/01/01 to 1992/01/01
1925/01/01 to 1925/01/01
1986/01/01 to 1986/01/01
1835/01/01 to 1835/01/01
1875/01/01 to 1875/01/01

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

Henry Langley



Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Conservation Easement Files Ontario Heritage Trust 10 Adelaide Street East Toronto, Ontario

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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