116 1st Avenue W, Gravelbourg, Saskatchewan, S0H, Canada
St. Philomena Roman Catholic Cathedral
Our Lady of the Assumption Roman Catholic Church
Links and documents
1918/01/01 to 1919/12/31
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
La Cathédrale is a Municipal Heritage Property consisting of approximately half a hectare in the Town of Gravelbourg. The designation applies to a French Canadian Catholic Cathedral built between 1918-1919 prominently situated on the southern edge of the community.
The heritage value of La Cathédrale lies in its close association with the establishment of the French-Roman Catholic faith in southern Saskatchewan. The selection of Gravelbourg as the site for the cathedral cemented the town’s position as a principal French speaking community in Saskatchewan. It was a visible manifestation of the influence of Catholic clergy in the province including such notable figures as Olivier Mathieu and Louis-Pierre Gravel.
The heritage value of La Cathédrale also lies in its architecture. The style of the building mixes Classical and Romanesque elements. It is one of three cathedrals built in Saskatchewan, designed by Montreal architect J. E. Fortin. It is distinguished from the other cathedrals Fortin designed by its elaborate interior decorations. The Cathedral occupies a prominent location at the south end of Gravelbourg's Main Street visible from many miles away; a prominent fixture of the prairie landscape surrounding Gravelbourg.
The heritage value of La Cathédrale also lies in its interior finishing and furnishings. Unique to this cathedral are the paintings completed by Father Charles Maillard, a French born priest who served from 1919-1929 as the first pastor of the cathedral and was also the founder and first director of College Mathieu. The paintings that decorate the interior of the cathedral emphasize Roman Catholic theological ideas related to redemption. Maillard’s depictions of the stations of the cross are unique historical records because he modeled his figures after people living in and around Gravelbourg. Maillard's paintings are also based on a significant hierarchical structure: the paintings just above the ground floor depict the seven sins; above that are the stations of the cross; higher yet are paintings depicting sainthood and eternal salvation. Maillard's use of hierarchical mural paintings encouraged the congregation to continue to always look upward. Maillard’s style was heavily influenced by similar features in European cathedrals. These are unique because they were painted on the reverse side of linoleum rather than following the normal practice of painting on canvas.
Town of Gravelbourg Bylaw No. 835/87.
The heritage value of La Cathédrale resides in the following character defining elements:
- its size in comparison to other churches and buildings in the community and its physical relationship with the town;
- those elements that reflect the ornately detailed interior of the church including Father Maillard’s paintings on linoleum, the columns, benches inscribed with the fleur-de-lys, numerous religious figurines and other decorative features, two original stained glass windows and bishop’s throne;
- those elements that are typical of the architectural style including: towers incised with small vertical windows and pilasters with round arches that reflect a Romanesque Revival influence; the prominent cornice over the large arched window; pediment over the entrance and use of the Corinthian order in the interior reflect elements of the Classical revival style;
- those elements that speak to the building’s use as a place of worship, including the religious statues and symbols attached to the cathedral façade, the original choir loft and pews in the cathedral’s interior.
Local Governments (SK)
Heritage Property Act, s. 11(1)(a)
Municipal Heritage Property
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
J. E. Fortin
Location of Supporting Documentation
Department of Culture, Youth and Recreation
Heritage Resources Branch
1919 Saskatchewan Drive Regina, SK
Cross-Reference to Collection