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Precious Blood Cathedral

778 Queen Street East, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, P6A, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1981/01/26

Looking north-east from Queen Street - wide angle view; City of Sault Ste. Marie
Precious Blood Cathedral, 2005
Looking north-east from Queen Street; City of Sault Ste. Marie
Precious Blood Cathedral, 2004
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Other Name(s)

Precious Blood Cathedral
Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church
Parish Church of the Sacred Heart

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1875/01/01 to 1901/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2006/06/29

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Precious Blood Cathedral is located on Queen Street East in the Heritage Square in downtown Sault Ste. Marie. Set back from the main streetscape in a park like setting, this simple gothic church, constructed in 1875-1876 of local red and grey sandstone, is made more visible by a bell tower and spire.

Precious Blood Cathedral has been recognized for its heritage value by the City of Sault Ste. Marie, By-law 81-18. It is also subject to a heritage conservation easement agreement held by the Ontario Heritage Trust.

Heritage Value

The Precious Blood Cathedral is of heritage value because it is the oldest surviving church in Sault Ste. Marie and an important link to the history of the Roman Catholic Church in the city. It is also of value as an example of church design and construction that reflects the availability of local materials, and as a local landmark.

Constructed in 1875-1876, the Precious Blood Cathedral was originally known as Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church, receiving its current name in 1936. It served as a parish church before becoming the cathedral for the newly-created Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie in 1904. The Cathedral is a reminder of the long history of the Roman Catholic Church in Sault Ste. Marie which began when Jesuit priests celebrated the first mass in the Sault in 1641. A simple, wood Roman Catholic missionary church is known to have existed close to the site of the present cathedral as early as 1846.

Designed (by Langley, Langley and Burke of Toronto) in a simple Gothic style that relied on locally-available materials, the Cathedral reflects the remote setting and isolation of Sault Ste. Marie at the time of construction. Constructed with sandstone from the American Lock excavation at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, as well as from local stone and lumber, it originally consisted of a single nave and a bell tower that projected from the main entrance. Alterations to the original design include transepts added in 1901, which were designed by H. Russell Halton, a local architect who is responsible for the design of a number of other Sault Ste. Marie buildings including the Coronation and Hussey Blocks on Queen Street East.

Located in downtown Sault Ste. Marie, Precious Blood Cathedral is an important landmark. In contrast with the commercial buildings that surround it, the cathedral is set back from the street and surrounded by trees and its tower and spire provide a visual focus for the city.

Sources: Sault Ste. Marie Designation By-law 81-18, Precious Blood Cathedral Designation Report, Sault Ste. Marie Public Library.

Character-Defining Elements

Key character defining elements of the Cathedral that reflect the history of the Roman Catholic Church in Sault Ste. Marie include:
-the 1925 marble statue in front of the church, commemorating the martyrs who died in establishing the church in the area

Key character defining elements of the Cathedral that reflect its locally-inspired Gothic architecture and construction include:
- the coursed rubble stone walls, constructed using local sandstone
- the single nave
- the gable roof, clad in slate
- the stone bell tower, belfry and four-sided spire, clad in metal shingles
- the lancet windows and gothic doorways
- the lancet tracery, alternating stone surrounds and arrow-shaped keystones decorating the windows and doors
- the original roof rafters and beams

Key character defining elements of the Cathedral that reflect modifications and alteration over time include:
- the transepts and stained glass windows, added in 1901
- the bell, installed in 1904 and inscribed with the names of contributors and an impression of the Sacred Heart
- interior features, including the 1912 pipe organ and the 1925 alter

Key character defining elements of the Cathedral that reflect its value as a local landmark include:
- its highly visible setting in downtown Sault Ste. Marie
- its orientation to Queen Street East




Recognition Authority

Local Governments (ON)

Recognition Statute

Ontario Heritage Act

Recognition Type

Municipal Heritage Designation (Part IV)

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


Architect / Designer

H. Russell Halton



Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Community Services Department, Recreation and Culture Division, City of Sault Ste. Marie

Cross-Reference to Collection

Sault Ste. Marie Museum; Sault Ste. Marie Public Library Archives

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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