Old St. James Anglican Church
St. James Anglican Church
Links and documents
1853/01/01 to 1853/12/31
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
Old St. James Anglican Church, a log and milled-timber structure built in 1853 on a ridge above the Assiniboine River, stands on a tree-sheltered site within a highly developed mixed-use area of west-central Winnipeg. The provincial designation applies to the church, its cemetery and the large river lot they occupy.
Old St. James Anglican Church is the oldest surviving wooden church in Western Canada and the first of its type built in Manitoba in a formal Gothic Revival style, which set a template for many later churches throughout the province. The solid building, erected by volunteers, also is a rare mid-1800s example of the Red River frame method of log construction. The church's development under the leadership of Rev. W.H. Taylor created a focal point for settlement in the community of St. James and established one of the first parish churches for Anglicans living along the western or Assiniboine River arm of the expanding Red River Colony. Caringly restored in 1967 and still used for summer services, the church remains a prominent architectural, historical and religious landmark - one that, with its cemetery, presents an island of pioneer simplicity amid the contemporary bustle of its urban surroundings.
Source: Manitoba Heritage Council Minutes, January 13, 1996
Key elements that define the site character of the landmark Old St. James Anglican Church include:
- its location on the north bank of the Assiniboine River between Tylehurst and Doreen streets, well set back from Portage Avenue, one of Winnipeg's main thoroughfares
- the church's east-west alignment, facing west, within a grassed and treed cemetery holding many pioneer gravesites
Key elements that define the building's wooden construction and Gothic Revival style include:
- its simple one-storey rectangular form and vertical proportions, with a steeply pitched gable roof and neatly ordered facades marked on the long sides with pilaster shapes
- the south-side vestry with a short gable roof that matches the slope of the main roof
- the honest expression of materials, including the Red River frame assembly of hand-hewn oak logs, horizontal board siding painted traditional white with contrasting trim, a tall brick chimney and a wooden bellcote with a pavilion roof perched on the ridge over the front elevation
- modest Gothic Revival features such as the pointed arch around the entrance; single and three-part pointed windows with hood-mouldings, most containing single-hung sashes, clear panes and Y-tracery; the Celtic cross atop the bellcote; etc.
Key internal elements that define the church's heritage character include:
- the largely unaltered, straightforward plan incorporating a small front vestibule, wide centre-aisle nave and raised chancel with a wood railing in front of the altar
- the plain finishes and materials, including the exposed timber walls, flat painted ceiling with exposed crossbeams, hardwood flooring, etc.
- the Gothic Revival details carried through from the exterior, including a tall pointed arched vestry opening that matches the height of the nave windows, the delicate rose- and gold-coloured stained-glass panel of the three-part east window and one stained-glass window on the south side
- basic religious furnishings and fixtures such as the planed board pews and kneelers with buffalo hide, the 1909 electric light fixtures, the handmade altar, etc.
Province of Manitoba
Manitoba Historic Resources Act
Provincial Heritage Site
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
Location of Supporting Documentation
Main Floor, 213 Notre Dame Avenue Winnipeg MB R3B 1N3
Cross-Reference to Collection