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St. Mary's Church - Indian River, PEI
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member BK-Hunters
N 46° 28.610 W 063° 40.181
20T E 448592 N 5147246
Quick Description: In a rural and pastoral setting, this Roman Catholic church is nothing if not striking. It is well worth a drive in the country to visit. You may even find it open, allowing viewing of the magnificent interior.
Location: Prince Edward Island, Canada
Date Posted: 9/24/2015 3:19:47 PM
Waymark Code: WMPN4P
Published By: Groundspeak Regular Member Bon Echo
Views: 1

Long Description:
St. Mary’s was designated a Province of Prince Edward Island Heritage Place in November, 11, 2011. No longer a Catholic Church, it was decommissioned by the Roman Catholic diocese in September 2009 and purchased by the Indian River Festival in 2010. On the opening of the 2011 Indian River Festival a certificate and provincial heritage plaque were presented, making its status official.

This is the third Roman Catholic church to occupy this site, the first being in use from 1814 until being torn down to make room for a larger one in 1843. That church existed until August 4, 1896, when it fell victim to lightning and burned.

Another of the works of noted Island architect William Critchlow Harris, this $20,000 church was purposely built to impress. In about 1900, when it came time to replace the burned church, the pastor, Rev. Monsignor D.J. Gillis, asked Harris to ""build it like Kinkora's church, only bigger and better!" This Harris accomplished masterfully, creating a magnificent piece of eye candy for the congregation.

Clad in scalloped shingles above and straight cut shingles below, the French Gothic style building is set off by a tall round tower at one corner. Around the base of the tall conical spire are a series of twelve small gablets, each above a niche housing one of the twelve apostles. Each corner of the transept is capped with a small tower, while yet another tower rises from the centre of the transcept. Overall, this is one of Harris' finest works and is, fortunately for all concerned, being extremely well maintained (probably at great cost).

Since 1996 the church has been host to the Indian River Festival, a festival of classical music which takes advantage of the great natural acoustics of the Harris design. The 2015 festival will be the 20th one held.

St. Mary's Church, a fine example of the French Gothic influence, was built in 1902 by Island architect, William Critchlow Harris. The Harris trademark, a rib-vaulted or groined ceiling, enhances the quality of sound and archives this with the use of fir, pine, spruce, maple, and birch throughout the building.

Today, St. Mary's remains the architectural and acoustical treasure that William Harris envisioned; the perfect setting for voice and instruments to celebrate wonderful music. It has been said that the natural acoustics of St. Mary's rates as one of the top ten places to perform in the world.

Since 1996, the Indian River Festival has arranged for some of the best classical musicians in North America and Europe to perform at St. Mary's.
From the Indian River Festival

The photo of the church interior at the bottom is courtesy of the
Indian River Festival.

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St. Mary's Church

Located in a pastoral setting on the Hamilton Road in Indian River, this French Gothic style church features a unified nave and chancel with transepts. The stone foundation is Wallace freestone from Nova Scotia. A dominant feature of the building is the circular tower on the southwest corner. It is decorated with statues of the twelve apostles located in niches.

This building is valued as a fine example of the work of Island architect, William Critchlow Harris; for its well preserved French Gothic architectural style; and for its contribution to the landscape of Indian River.

Early pioneers to the area were Roman Catholic Scottish Highlanders from Uist and Barra who began arriving in the 1790s. By 1814, a mission church was constructed by the shores of Malpeque Bay. It was later hauled inland to the site of the present day St. Mary's Church. By 1843, this was dismantled and taken to Summerside and a larger second church was built to replace it.

This second church was struck by lightning on August 4, 1896 and burned down while Father Gillis watched helplessly from the verandah of the parish house. Immediately, plans were developed to construct the current building. Rev. Monsignor D.J. Gillis approached the noted architect, William Critchlow Harris, to design the new church. He directed Harris to "build it like Kinkora's church only bigger and better !" Harris also designed St. Malachy's Roman Catholic Church in Kinkora which was completed in 1899.

The entire community was involved with the project which cost $20,000. Parishioners hauled stones for the foundation and laboured in the forest to cut lumber for the building. Work began in 1900 and the builder was Nathan MacFarlane. It was completed by 1902. The result was a magnificent example of Harris' skill. The exterior elements include a circular corner tower featuring twelve niches for the apostles. The main body of the building has alternating shingle patterns, drilled hole bargeboards, and an array of pointed arch Gothic windows. The interior design includes an original altar also designed by Harris and an acoustic quality which has made the building the perfect host for the music of the annual Indian River Festival.

The building was decommissioned as a church by the diocese in September 2009 and purchased by the Indian River Festival. Restoration of the building's fine architectural features was undertaken in 2010 and 2011.

- the Wallace stone foundation
- the wood frame construction and cruciform plan
- the alternating wooden shingle patterns
- the gable roofline
- the drilled hole bargeboard
- the beltcourses
- the various sized pointed arch Gothic windows
- the window cap moulding
- the large multi-paned Gothic windows
- the circular side tower featuring representations of the twelve apostles
- the decorative lantern on the roof in the middle of the transept
- the decorative bartizans
From Historic Places Canada

Photo goes Here

URL of Page from Heritage Register: [Web Link]

Site's Own URL: [Web Link]

Address of site:
1374 Hamilton Rd Indian River, PEI C0B 1M0

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