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Heritage Community Foundation Presents
Alberta Online Encyclopedia

No. 32: St. Patrick's Church in Medicine Hat

Ce texte a été publié en anglais et n'est pas disponible en français.

Two white towers rising above the banks of the South Saskatchewan River mark the site of one of the most striking and unusual churches in southern Alberta.

According to Dorothy Field of Alberta Historic Sites Services, construction of the church pre-dates World War I.

St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Church was built in 1912 to 1914, by the Sacred Heart Fathers.

It is a very large, gothic revival building, constructed of reinforced concrete - which is kind of surprising, seeing as how, of course, Medicine Hat is the brick capital of Alberta.

St. Patrick's church is built among 21 lots purchased by the Sacred Heart Brothers in the early part of the century.

They chose an architect from New York with a grand sense of design, but, unfortunately, a poor understanding of Alberta winters.

Well, it's a long, narrow building, with two very tall towers at the front. The windows are all pointed at the top, in the gothic style, and on the crossings at one end of the building, there are large, circular stained-glass windows.

Inside, the ceiling is actually quite high, but you can't tell that now because in the 1930s, they put in a lowered ceiling. And the reason for that was that it was becoming prohibitively expensive to heat the building.

It's really quite large, and it's tall and narrow, and the heat would just go right up to the ceiling in the winter time and people would be shivering in the pews while all of the heat was up at the ceiling.

As historian Dorothy Field points out, St. Patrick's church could seat 600 people.

It's quite unusual for the early date that it was built, and really reveals how much people thought that the city was going to grow, because it seems overly large for the size of community that Medicine Hat is.

Today, St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Church survives as the most elaborate example of the gothic revival style in western Canada.

On the Heritage Trail,

I'm Cheryl Croucher.

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