The resurrection of Vancouver’s Christ Church Cathedral

Downtown's oldest surviving stone structure was in need of a few repairs

April 5, 2016

By Trevor Melanson / Photo: Martin Knowles

When the colossal labyrinth of scaffolding comes down at Christ Church Cathedral later this year, a 20-year, $20-million-plus renovation will finally be complete. Projects have included everything from landscaping to a new pipe organ, but the most visible upgrade of all came last: the new roof. “Every great city has a great cathedral,” says Peter Elliott, dean and rector of the church. And every great cathedral, presumably, needs a great roof.

The Holy Trinity
In addition to the new roof, this latest round of renovations includes a new kitchen and bell tower, which should be up by fall. The cost for all three comes in at $9 million, with $6.6 million of that having been raised as of December. The province pitched in $1 million.

`Cathedral with Bell Tower - Sarah Hall Studio - Oct 2014
Sarah Hall Studio

Better with Age
Built in 1889, the Christ Church Cathedral at Burrard and W. Georgia is downtown Vancouver’s oldest surviving stone structure. Not surprisingly, it’s also a heritage building, which means that significant alterations aren’t allowed (maintenance renovations like this one aside).


A Much Thicker Skin
Old, asbestos-covered shingles were removed and will be replaced with a new zinc roof the church says could last up to a century. Also added was a steel frame, one of many seismic upgrades the church has received in recent years. Removal of lead-contaminated dust, dislodged during demolition, added an unexpected $1 million to the cost.


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