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St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church National Historic Site of Canada

555-575 Jean-Talon Street East, Montréal, Quebec, H2R, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1999/11/21

General view of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church, showing the symmetrical façade, central dome and paired towers with cupolas.; Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada.
General view
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Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1939/01/01 to 1940/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2009/06/25

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church National Historic Site of Canada, located in the Villeray neighbourhood of Montréal, is a handsome brick church designed in a predominantly Byzantine style. Capped with a pediment and flanked by twin three-storey bell towers, the façade is distinguished by a grouping of three round-arch windows above an arched entranceway. The interior is a marriage of Byzantine and western influences, in its broadly arched central nave, decorated with a splendid program of murals and stained glass windows. The official recognition refers to the church and its attached parish house in their existing spatial relationships.

Heritage Value

St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1999 because:
- the church is an important symbol of the historic and continuing cultural traditions of the Syrian Orthodox community in Canada.

Serving the original and largest Syrian Orthodox community in Canada, St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church is this cultural community’s earliest-known, purpose-built church that continues to fulfil its original role. Designed by architect Raoul Gariepy, the church combines Western and Byzantine styles. Through its remarkable architecture, interior design by Emmanuel Briffa, and its role as the home of many community organizations involved in humanitarian activities, this church importantly illustrates the continuity of a cultural tradition within a Canadian context. St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church, created by the Syrian Orthodox community as the physical embodiment of that group’s ability to contribute to Canadian life through respect for and adaptation of their cultural values and traditions, is a place of special significance on the Canadian landscape.

Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, 1999.

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements contributing to the heritage value of this site include:
- the location in the Villeray neighbourhood of Montreal;
- the church’s exterior elevation, with its synthesis of Byzantine and Romanesque Revival styles, as shown in the symmetrical façade, central dome, paired towers with cupolas, round-headed windows, gable roof, and contrasting surfacing materials;
- the church’s close relationship with its accompanying parish house;
- the setback from the street, approached by a grand staircase;
- the design of the church interior, reflecting the Orthodox Antiochian liturgy, with its disposition of spaces as narthex, nave and sanctuary divided by an iconostasis, materials and finishes, and the iconographic program of the surface decorations, notably the mural paintings and stained glass by Emmanuel Briffa, and its furnishings and accoutrements;
- the continued use of the church and parish house by members of the community.




Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Historic Sites and Monuments Act

Recognition Type

National Historic Site of Canada

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1950/01/01 to 1950/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Architecture and Design
Building Social and Community Life
Community Organizations

Function - Category and Type


Religion, Ritual and Funeral
Religious Facility or Place of Worship


Architect / Designer

Raoul Gariepy


Emmanuel Briffa

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

National Historic Sites Directorate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Quebec

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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