Saint Brigid's Church (Ottawa)

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Saint Brigid's Church
St Brigid's Church (Ottawa).JPG
Saint Brigid's Centre for the Arts, formerly St Brigid's Church
Denomination Roman Catholic
Dedication Saint Brigid

St Brigid's was a Roman Catholic church located in the Lower Town neighbourhood of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. It was built to serve the English-speaking, Catholic population of the area. In 2007 the church was closed and sold, and is now home to Saint Brigid's Centre for the Arts, an Irish-Canadian heritage centre.


Until the opening of St Brigid’s, this community, largely of Irish heritage, had formed part of the parish of Notre-Dame, the Cathedral of Ottawa. By 1870, the Irish percentage of the population had declined relative to that of the French Canadian. As a consequence, the Irish played an ever diminishing role in the life and management of Notre-Dame.

Discussions to establish a distinct anglophone parish and church for Lower Town began in March 1888. A committee of parishioners from Notre-Dame Cathedral held meetings with the Archbishop of Ottawa, the Most Rev. Joseph-Thomas Duhamel. It was agreed to create a new parish; a site for the church chosen; and by May 3, 1888, James R. Bowes had been chosen as architect. The plans called for a substantial structure at the corner of St Patrick and Cumberland Streets.[1] Built in the Romanesque Revival style (generally called Norman at that time), the principal façade has three heavy round headed portals and paired towers of unequal height and detail. The taller (eastern) tower is capped with a stylized bishop's mitre placing the church and its Irish parishioners squarely in the Ultramontanist tradition of the Catholic Church. Work began on St Brigid's in 1889 and the Blessing of the completed Church took place on August 3, 1890.

In May 2006, Archbishop Marcel Gervais announced that the church would be closed, as the shrinking congregation did not justify the several hundred thousand dollars in needed repairs. The parishioners objected vehemently to this and even took the archdiocese to court to keep it open, both unsuccessfully. One condition of the sale was that the building could not be used as a Catholic church, either by the buyers or their successors.

In 2007, St. Brigid's Catholic Church was put up for sale. The deconsecrated building was purchased by four investors in the fall of 2007 for $450,000. Patrick McDonald, one of the investors, renovated the building. It has been turned into Saint Brigid's Centre for the Arts, an Irish-Canadian heritage centre and social venue hosting art exhibitions, plays, and concerts.[2]

See also[edit]


  • Ottawa: A Guide to Heritage Structures, Ottawa Local Architectural Conservation Advisory Committee
  • Exploring Ottawa, Harold Kalman and John Roaf
  • Capital Walks, Katharine Fletcher
  • Heritage Ottawa Newsletter, “J. Bowes & Son, Architects, Ottawa: A Forgotten Legacy”, Elizabeth Krug
  • "The artful rebirth of St. Brigid's". Maria Cook, The Ottawa Citizen. Wednesday, April 2, 2008

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 45°25′53″N 75°41′26″W / 45.431363°N 75.690608°W / 45.431363; -75.690608