Home / Accueil

St. Patrick's Church

87 Esplanade, Sydney, Nova Scotia, B1P, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1983/03/11

Side Elevation, St. Patrick's Church, Sydney, 2004; Heritage Division, Nova Scotia Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2004
Side Elevation
Tower and cupola, St. Patrick's Church, Sydney, 2004.; Heritage Division, Nova Scotia Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2004
Tower and Cupola
Side perspective, St. Patrick's Church, Sydney, 2004.; Heritage Division, Nova Scotia Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2004
Side Perspective

Other Name(s)

St. Patrick's Church
St. Patrick's Museum
Old Sydney Museum
Old Sydney Museum or St. Patrick's Museum

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1828/01/01 to 1830/12/31

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2005/07/22

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

St. Patrick’s Church is a one and one half storey, Gothic Revival style stone building. Located in Sydney, Nova Scotia, the Church was built between 1828-1830 and is the oldest standing Roman Catholic Church in eastern Nova Scotia. Adjacent to the church is a small graveyard with the earliest gravestone dating from 1798. The church, cemetery and surrounding property are included in the designation.

Heritage Value

St. Patrick’s Church is valued for its age and its role in the history of the Roman Catholic Church on Cape Breton Island. St. Patrick’s Church is the oldest Roman Catholic Church on Cape Breton Island. The church was erected between 1828-1830 due to the efforts of Sydney’s first Roman Catholic parish priest, Father Henry MacKeagney. By 1828 the small Sydney congregation had raised enough money to replace their original wooden church with the present stone church. The Catholic community continued to grow in Sydney and eventually became too big for the small stone church. Restorations on the church began in 1855, with the addition of balconies on three sides, and a raised sanctuary was erected at the south end of the church. By 1872, the congregation had once again become too big for St. Patrick’s and the decision was made to build another church. Sacred Heart was erected and the congregation left St. Patrick’s, but returned after a fire in 1876 destroyed the newly built Sacred Heart. The congregation again occupied St. Patrick’s while the new church was rebuilt. St. Patrick’s was kept as the church hall once Sacred Heart was completed. Adjacent to the St. Patrick’s Church is a small graveyard, which is also designated and it pre-dates the church with its oldest grave dated 1798.

St. Patrick’s Church is also valued for its long association with the development of the City of Sydney and the city’s Maronite community. During the first decades of the twenith century a large number of Lebanese and Syrian families immigrated to Nova Scotia. The largest population was located in North Sydney. The majority of the Lebanese and Syrian immigrants were Maronites; members of one of the Eastern Rites of the Catholic Church. In 1912, under Father Saoib, the Lebanese Maronite community began to use St. Patrick’s Church. St. Patrick’s is believed to be the first permanent place of worship for the Maronite community in Nova Scotia. The church was abandoned in 1950 following Father Saoib’s retirement. In 1966 the Old Sydney Society established a museum there as a means of preserving the Church. It remains open today as a museum.

Source: Notice of Registration of Property as a Provincial Heritage Property, Provincial Property Heritage File no. 003.

Character-Defining Elements

Character-defining elements of St. Patrick’s Church include:

- rubble and coursed stone used for the three-foot walls;
- cut stone around the windows and doors and also in the quoins;
- cornerstones that came from the ruins of the Fortress of Louisbourg;
- tower with cupola;
- plain fascia and soffits on the eaves;
- arched windows with voussoirs and plain lug sills;
- original hand-hewn beams.

Character-defining elements of the Gothic style of St. Patrick’s Church include:

- Gothic windows, pointed arch windows, lancet windows, hoodmolds;
- dominating door openings.



Nova Scotia

Recognition Authority

Province of Nova Scotia

Recognition Statute

Heritage Property Act

Recognition Type

Provincially Registered Property

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


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
Religion, Ritual and Funeral
Mortuary Site, Cemetery or Enclosure

Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Provincial Registry found at Heritage Property Program, 1747 Summer Street, Halifax, NS B3H 3A6

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




Related Places



Advanced SearchAdvanced Search
Nearby Places