Description of Historic Place
The building at 125 Daly Street, known as Church of St. Alban the Martyr, is situated at Daly Street and King Edward Avenue in the City of Ottawa. The one-storey limestone building was designed in the Gothic Revival style of English parish churches by architect Thomas Fuller and was constructed between 1867-77.
The exterior of the property is protected by an Ontario Heritage Trust conservation easement (1983). The property was also designated by the City of Ottawa under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act (By-law 150-78) in 1978.
Located at 125 Daly Street, Church of St. Alban the Martyr's heritage value is enhanced by its location in downtown Ottawa. Built on a hill, the church incorporates the slope of the land into the design. The limestone construction compliments other stone buildings in the area.
The Church of St. Alban the Martyr is associated with architect Thomas Fuller, the Anglican church in Ottawa and many prominent Canadian politicians. Some of the original parishioners to the church included influential politicians and Fathers of Confederation, such as; Sir John A. Macdonald, Sir Francis Hincks, Sir Charles Tupper, Sir Leonard Tilley, Sir Alexander Campbell, Senator John George Bourinot and Sir Henry Strong. When Ottawa was selected as the permanent capital of the Province of Canada, in 1857, the need for a new Anglican church became apparent, as the original Anglican parish, Christ Church on Sparks Street, could no longer meet the demand of the growing congregation.
Initially, services for the new congregation were conducted by Rev. Dr. T. Bedford-Jones in the Daly Avenue Court House. Eventually, a new church site was selected at the intersection of Daly Street and King Edward Avenue. In 1866, British-educated, Toronto-based architect Thomas Fuller (1823-1898) drew up designs for the church. Indicating the influence of English architect A.W.N. Pugin, the style of the church is not merely Gothic Revival, it is archaeologically accurate to the form of medieval English parish churches. This would reflect the importance of Pugin and of the Ecclesiological Society, who sought historic accuracy in Gothic Revival architecture.
Thomas Fuller was the foremost architect in Canada, having won the competition to design the parliament buildings in Ottawa, in 1859. He was unable to complete the supervision for the church project because he won the design competition for the state capitol building in Albany, New York. The rest of the work on the church was assigned to King Arnoldi, a younger architect and draughtsman. The original design was scaled back due to a lack of funds. Unforeseen problems with the site, such as quicksand, caused delays, resulting in a longer-than-expected construction time. The church opened in 1867, but would not be completed until 1877. It was the first church in Ottawa to offer its parishioners free pews, at a time when most seats had to be purchased.
Church of St. Alban the Martyr is an example of an English parish church in Gothic Revival style. The church plan is of two unequal rectangular masses of which the larger is the nave and the smaller the sanctuary. The main axis of the church is east-west, with the square ended sanctuary forming the east end. A vestry adjoins the southern elevation with the entrance to the church enclosed by a small porch. The random rubble limestone walls have been brought to courses and have dressed limestone quoins and window surrounds. There is ornamental iron cresting on the ridge of the roof. A small vestry court, with a low limestone wall, compiles the southeast corner and the entrance. At the intersection of the nave and transept there is a bell cote, with a single bell and capped with an iron weathervane. Along the nave walls are paired lancet windows, flanked by heavy buttresses, with dressed limestone quoins. The nave wall is squat on the south façade, but on the north façade, it extends to meet the slope of the hill. The chancel has a large pointed-arch window with geometric tracery. The vestibule has a pointed-arch window with trefoil tracery and is above three lancet windows. At the peak of the vestry roof there is a small Irish cross. The church has a simple pressed metal roof with two small pointed dormers on each side. At the southwest corner there is a smaller entrance protected by a gable roof. Stained-glass windows were added in 1889.
Source: OHT Easement Files.
Character defining elements that contribute to the heritage value of the Church of St. Alban the Martyr include its:
- use of the Gothic Revival style in the form of an English parish church
- random rubble limestone walls brought to courses;
- dressed limestone quoins
- vestry court and limestone fence
- iron cresting and weathervane
- bell cote
- paired lancet windows with limestone surrounds
- heavy limestone buttresses
- pointed-arch window in the sanctuary with geometric tracery
- pointed-arch window in the vestry with trefoil tracery
- pressed metal gable roof
- matching pointed dormers
- Irish cross at the peak of the vestry roof
- stained glass windows
- proximity to other historic buildings in Lower Town area of downtown Ottawa
- adaptation to the topography of the site