Divine Majesty: Vancouver’s Architectural Gems in the Top 10 Famous Churches

Vancouver is known not just for its stunning natural landscape but also for its culture and historical landscapes. Home to many ancient churches, Vancouver boasts notable churches that contribute to the city’s architectural richness.

Along with architectural beauty, these churches also showcase religious significance. One can explore the spiritual and historical facets of Vancouver through its churches.

1. Famous Churches In Vancouver

1.1. St. Andrew’s Wesley United Church in Vancouver

St. Andrew’s Wesley United Church is in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Twizel designed the building.

Firstly, it is constructed from British Columbia’s Nelson Island granite. Secondly, the stone from Haddington Island in British Columbia has also been utilized. However, it is the famous church in Vancouver.

Its architecture was completed in the year 1927. The completion was for Methodist, Presbyterian, Local Union, and Congregational Churches.

The church’s name comprises adherents of Wesley Methodist and St. Andrew’s Presbyterian. Around 1859, the Methodist evangelists set out in Vancouver from Britain.

In 1875, a church was constructed on Water St. However, in 1886, it was destroyed in the Great Vancouver Fire. Later, the congregation was split into Homer Street and Princess Street. In 1927, the St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church on Wesley Methodist, Richards, and Georgia mingled as St. Andrew’s Wesley United Church.

The new building of St. Andrew’s Wesley was started on May 26, 1933. Also, the first minister of the United congregation was Rev. Dr. Willard Brewing.

1.2. Christ Church Cathedral

The Christ Church Cathedral is at 690 Burrard Street, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. It is the second cathedral church of the Anglican Church of Canada.

The Christ Church is derived from the St. James’ Anglican Church. On December 23, 1888, the pioneer ceremony was held without a church structure at 720 Granville Street.

A building committee was organized on February 14, 1889. It was to gather the essential funds for the construction of the church.

The church would be situated on the land bought from CPR. CPR is the Canadian Pacific Railway. In October 1889, the basement of the church’s building was completed. For the fifty-two parishioners, the opening service was held on October 6.

In 1891, the CPR dissented from the incomplete church’s building. However, the parishioners were afraid to lose the spot due to a shortage of funds. In 1892, architect Robert Mackay Fripp petitioned for the church’s completion.

Christ Church Cathedral - A Video Tour

The seat of New Westminster was shifted to Christ Church Cathedral, Vancouver. It was in the year 1929. Given below is the New Westminster’s Deans’ list since 1929:

  • Ramsay Armitage (1936 – 1940)
  • Cecil Beresford Swanson (1940 – 1953)
  • Northcote Richard Burke (1953 – 1968)
  • Robert John Renison (1927 – 1931)
  • Thomas Herbert O’Driscoll (1968 – 1982)
  • James David Cruickshank (1983 – 1993)
  • Peter Elliott ( 1994 – 2019)
  • Michael Ingham (1993 – 1994)
  • Christopher Pappas (Since 2020)

1.3. Coastal Church in Vancouver

The Coastal Church is at 1160 Georgia Street, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Coastal Victory Church are the alternative names of the Coastal Church. It is best known for its structure, established during the First World War.

The Colonial Revival Style building is an excellent two-story, rare in Vancouver. Its different-styled architecture is a significant contribution to the American urban reference. It is among the few rare heritage buildings on Georgia Street.

In 1918, De Guerre and Matheson were the architects who designed this building. However, it was opened in 1919.

You can find the original set of designs of the building in the church files. Also, the descriptions of different building parts, suppliers, and construction can be found.

1.4. First Baptist Church in Vancouver

The First Baptist Church is at 969 Burrard Street, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. It is a heritage building with a unique and historic architectural design.

The architects who made this building were Burke, Horwood, and White. This heritage building is said to be the 3rd home of the First Baptist Church.

On April 2, 1910, the cornerstone here was laid by John Morton. He was a Baptist layman. Also, he was among the “Three Greenhorns”. The Three Greenhorns were the ones who initially maintained the current land of the church. It was mainly established on June 11, 1911.

A massive fire in Vancouver destroyed the interiors of the church in 1931. Charles Bentall maintained the restoration of the church.

He was one of the church’s members. His company, Dominion Construction, managed the restoration process of the church. This church is like a home for the oldest Baptist parishioners in Vancouver. Finally, on March 16, 1887, the church was established.

1.5. Unitarian Church of Vancouver

The Unitarian Church of Vancouver is shortly known as UCV. It is the oldest and largest Unitarian parishioners in British Columbia, Canada. The church was established in 1909.

Wolfgang Gerson designed the beautiful architecture of this building. He was also a member of the Church. Also, he has won several architectural awards. This church was constructed during the 1960s.

Unitarian Church of Vancouver’s many buildings, like Hewett Centre, the office building, and the sanctuary, are the most recognizable.

These are best recognized for their serenity and simplicity. In 1998, a panel of architectural experts voted these buildings among the most beautiful. It is the famous church in Vancouver.

It has a Fireside Room, mainly noted as the Don’t Make a Wave Committee meeting place. Later, it was converted into Greenpeace. The church’s land has two entanglements.

The first one is the iconic 3-circuit square. The second one is a double-processional entanglement on the West side of the garden.

The current minister of the church in 2023 is Rev. Lara Cowtan. From 1956 to 1991, Rev. Phillip Hewett was the parish minister of the church for thirty-five years.

He was chosen as the minister emeritus. On February 24, 2018, he died at the age of 93. Moreover, Rev. Dr. Steven Epperson was appointed minister and served from 2001 to 2020.

The active teams of the parishioners work on social justice problems. It includes gender equality, resettlement of refugees, racial justice, and environmental issues. The Unitarian of Vancouver is better known for its ecological settlements.

1.6. St. James Anglican Church

St. James Anglican Church is situated in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Its building is one of a kind in the New Westminster of the Anglican Church of Canada.

The former structure of the church was completed in 1881. It was located on Alexander Street in the Town of Granville. Also, Captain James Raymur sponsored the church. He was the manager of the Hastings Mill.

Source: St. James Anglican Church official website screenshot

However, Granville was renamed Vancouver. Later, on April 6, 1886, the town was consolidated as a city. On June 13, 1886, the building was burned in the Great Vancouver Fire. The church bell was melted due to the heat of the fire. It changed into a puddle.

The puddle was displayed at the Museum of Vancouver.

The current building, which is also the third building, was sketched by Adrian Gilbert Scott. Later, he also designed the structures of the Church of St. Mart and St. Joseph, Poplar, London, England.

These buildings have similarities in their architecture. After the Vancouver Fire, this is the second building made on the land that CPR (Canadian Pacific Railway) donated.

The church’s architectural design is comprised of various designs. These designs are:

  • Byzantine Revival architecture design
  • Art Deco architecture design
  • Gothic Revival architecture design
  • Romanesque Revival architecture design

The church roof is made of ‘slate’ whereas the walls are made of ‘concrete.’ The building was created from 1935 to 1937. It was dignified in the year 1938.

1.7. Holy Rosary Cathedral

The Holy Rosary Cathedral is situated at 646 Richards Street, Vancouver. The Church’s full name is the Metropolitan Cathedral of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary. It is the famous church in Vancouver.

Its architectural style is the French Gothic Revival of the late 19th century. The cathedral’s construction began in 1899. The groundbreaking was completed on December 8, 1900.

It was finally established on October 3, 1953. It is said that the style of the architecture is inspired by the Chartres Cathedral of medieval times in France. In 1916, it was given the status of Cathedral to the church. Also, it is a legally conserved building listed in the Vancouver Heritage Register.

However, the cathedral church is constructed in the French Gothic style. The front walls of the building are made of sandstone that originates from Gabriola Island.

Meanwhile, the foundation of the church is made up of granite. It has two asymmetric bell towers. These are labeled as the cathedral’s ‘most prominent visual feature.’

The church has gone through several renovations during all these years. First, the tin scales were repaired and cleaned in late 1932. Second, the sanctuary was reordered in 1960.

Later, the church was entirely re-roofed between 1995 and 1997. Moreover, in December 2002, the carpeting was partially discarded with the Italian Ceramic Tiles. Further, the interiors of the church were repainted between 2004 and Art Deco architecture design.

Julian and Williams were the architects of the Cathedral. J. Michael Miller is the archbishop (bishop of higher rank).

1.8. Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral

The Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral is in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. It is a Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral.

The church was established on May 9, 1937 in Vancouver. The first holy sacrament was held at the Ukrainian National Home on July 18, 1937.

Sergius Timoshenko designed this beautiful church building. He was a Ukrainian-American architect. On September 11, 1949, Rev.

Stephen Symchych blessed the cross for the church’s central dome. Over many years, the church was finished and furnished according to Orthodox customs.

In December 1977, the church was listed as a heritage building by the Vancouver City Council. The church was directed as a Cathedral in 1983.

The hamlet is better recognized for its monthly Friday Night Ukrainian Suppers in Vancouver. The church’s assembly consists of 130 members. These members are English and Ukrainian speakers. It also includes numerous current Ukrainian settlers.

1.9. St. Paul’s Anglican Church

The St. Paul’s Anglican Church is on the southwest peninsula of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Christ Church Cathedral is located just alongside to the north-east. Both the hamlets separated from the first Anglican church, St. James in Granville (Vancouver).

This St. Paul’s Anglican was established when Vancouver’s population increased. A small group of parishioners from St. James demanded a vacant lot.

So, a vacant lot was bought, and a daughter’s church was completed in 1889. However, it was established in the year 1891. Later, the church moved to a new place in Yaletown.

Further, it was replaced by a bigger church in 1905. So, the old church was converted into the parish hall. The new church was constructed in the Gothic Revival style.

Its doors and windows were designed as pointed-arched. The church has a total of eighteen windows, counting the clerestory windows. Out of which, fifteen are illuminated with lights.

The windows on the eastern side wall portray St. Paul sermonizing in Athens. Meanwhile, the western side wall shows St. Peter with Dorcas doing good deeds.

However, the northern aisle shows Hope, Faith, and Charity. These windows were fitted with stained glass. From 1952 to 1964, 9 more windows were fixed with stained glass. All these windows somehow portray Christ.

June 6 2021 Sermon St. Paul's Anglican Church Vancouver BC

Until the year 1952, there was only one printing that showcased Jesus Christ as a small boy. The church was established at a time when the population was increasing.

At that time, the church attendance was expected. However, attendance increased with the population.

A second church was constructed when the membership was increased to one thousand. By 1929, a third church’s proposal was made but never executed.

1.10. St. John’s Vancouver

The St. John’s Vancouver Anglican Church is shortly known as St. John’s Vancouver. It is an evangelical Anglican church, which is situated in the city of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

The clergy founded this church in 2011. It acquires over seven hundred regular attendance. So, it became the biggest church within the Anglican Network in Canada.

In 2011, this church shared its history with St. John’s Shaughnessy. It was founded in the year 1925. Till the 1970s, the St. John’s church was known for its high-church Anglo-Catholic hamlets.

The membership of the church was denied. The funds of the church were collapsing. Then, the Bethel was called a prime low-church evangelical. His name was Rev. Harry Robinson.

He was called as a rector in 1978. He had befriended many famous evangelicals while doing theological studies in England.

Dick Lucas, John R. W. Stott, and J. I. Packer were the befriended evangelicals. Also, he was experienced in developing students’ ministry. One year after Robinson’s arrival, J. I. Packer made an appointment at the Regent College.

However, J. I. Packer has also got an appointment as the nominal assistant priest at St. John’s. He held his appointment till his death in the year 2020. 1992, when Robinson retired, the average weekly attendance had reached 800. Also, it was reported widely as the largest Anglican Church in Canada. So, it is also a famous church in Vancouver.

Further, Rev. David Short was appointed in Robinson’s place. He continued the further evangelical teaching and practices of Robinson.

Endnote

Vancouver is quite a famous place for its churches also. Most of the churches are given the status of Cathedral. Every church in Vancouver has its outstanding and unique history. Meanwhile, one thing can be found standard in most churches: the Great Vancouver Fire.

During the Great Vancouver Fire, many churches were burned and destroyed. Later, either they are repaired or built entirely with the new architecture.

Many famous designers from Canada and foreign countries have designed these buildings. Meanwhile, the architecture is inspired by different French and other architectural styles of the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries.

However, the churches are the holy places to visit. Together with its notable architecture, style, and design, it is exciting to see them. Also, exploring these places and knowing about their incredible history is compelling.

The chief church of an area, from which several churches are derived, is said to be the Cathedral. These churches in Vancouver are historic and have their own religious and spiritual values. One must respect and follow them while visiting them.

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