Christ Church Cathedral

690 Burrard St Vancouver

Heritage Building Tour of Vancouver/Christ Church Cathedral
VAMONDE Vancouver
Written By VAMONDE Vancouver

Christ Church Cathedral

Christ Church is a daughter church of St. James' Anglican Church. The first service was held without a church building on December 23, 1888. On February 14, 1889, a building committee was formed to collect the necessary funds for the erection of the church. The church was built in the Gothic Style with a ceiling made of cedar planking and ceiling beams and floor constructed out of old-growth Douglas fir. By 1909 the first expansion was done and by 1911, the first organ had already worn out. It used a human blower hired at $5 per month and was replaced by a new organ manufactured by Wurlitzer.

In 1920, electricity replaced candles for lighting, and in 1930 the lanterns now in the church were installed. The church planned to build a bell tower, but in 1943, the city by-laws were changed to restrict church bells. In November 2016, a bell tower was inaugurated. Its four bells are rung daily at 8 am and 6 pm and before church services. In 1949, after many building alterations, the Casavant organ was installed. Constructed partially of war surplus parts and remnants of the previous Wurlitzer, the instrument served well but had a problematic history.

In 1971, the church membership voted to demolish the building and replace it with a hi-rise tower complex designed by Arthur Erickson. The redevelopment was opposed by the public and in 1976 after much lobbying; the cathedral was named a Class A Heritage building in the municipality of Vancouver and the Province of British Columbia.

Bishop Michael Ingham authorized a liturgy for the celebration of lesbian and gay covenants in December 2002. On September 25, 2014, the parish submitted "A Statement in Favour of the Solemnization of Same Sex Matrimony in the Anglican Church of Canada" to the Anglican Church of Canada's commission on the marriage canon. This statement was submitted by the cathedral's clergy, wardens and parish council.


Holy Communion is celebrated using both the Book of Common Prayer and the Book of Alternative Services. Both a simple spoken celebration and a choral or sung eucharist celebrated with congregational hymns featuring an eclectic mix of Mass settings, psalmody, anthems, and instrumental music are practiced. Music in worship ranges from plainsong to motets from the baroque and classical periods to contemporary and world music. Cathedral musician, Rupert Lang is a prolific and respected composer and many of his sacred pieces debuts during this liturgy.


The Celtic Cross, which is found on both the Cathedral's exterior and interior, represents the roots of the Anglican Communion in the British Isles. The spindle whorl and the three salmon in the style of the Coast Salish Nation, represent the First People of Canada and the original inhabitants of the west coast. The Greek letters Chi (X) and Rho (P) in the centre are the initials of the words Christus Rex, Christ the King. The motto is "I hold before you an open door" (Revelation 3:8), the title of the first sermon preached in the Cathedral by the Rector, the Rev. H. B. Hobson, December 23, 1888.

Information courtesy of Wikipedia.

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