All Saints Church

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This imposing Gothic Revival style church at the corner of Laurier Ave. E. and Chapel St., was designed by English architect Alfred Calderon and was completed in 1900. It is designated a heritage building under the Ontario Heritage Act. With a high concentration of wealthy parishioners, it was known as a “society church” and its construction encouraged members of Ottawa’s elite to settle in Sandy Hill. In addition, the church relieved the congestion at St Alban-the-Martyr (corner of Daly and King Edward Avenues) that no longer could accommodate Sandy Hill’s growing Anglican population and provided an alternative to St Alban’s formal liturgy.

 

All Saints Church in the 1920s. Fraser House, where Billy Bishop lived during WW2 is in the background.
Lost Ottawa

Unusually, it was a businessman and not the Diocese who decided to build the church. Henry Newell Bate was the main driver behind its establishment and he not only donated

the land but also funded its construction (the architect had married one of his nieces). His children donated the nine-bell chimes (the third largest in Ottawa[1]) and his third son built

the adjoining church hall bearing the Bate name. Several plaques and memorial windows testify still to the Bate family’s influence, including one dedicated to Catherine Bate of Trennick House and Alexandrina Cameron of Stadacona Hall. Catherine Bate was Henry Newell’s wife and sister of Alexandrina Cameron. Trennick House was the Bates’ s residence while Stadacona Hall was the Camerons (and later the Macdonalds). The size of the Bate clan led wits to nickname All Saints “All Bates’ church”.

 

The church was a busy place a century ago with over 300 pupils enrolled in Sunday school. Church attendance declined gradually after the Second World War as Sandy Hill’s character and demographics changed. The Anglican Diocese closed the church in 2014 and sold it a year later.

 

Over the years, many distinguished Ottawa residents worshipped at All Saints, including Prime Minister Sir Robert Borden, Sir George Perley (politician and diplomat), Lt.-Col. James Woods (military outfitter) and champion skater Barbara Ann Scott. The two main events that marked the church’s history were Lois Booth’s wedding to Prince Erik of Denmark in 1924, the only royal wedding ever celebrated in Ottawa, and Sir Robert Borden’s state funeral in 1937.

The church building has recently been acquired by a group of investors, including neighbourhood residents, who are using the space as a hub for local activities (conferences, receptions, weddings) and are planning to develop part of the land the church sits on.

[1] The largest set of bells in Ottawa is the carillon of the Peace Tower and that of Saint-Jean Baptiste on Empress avenue. This second set, however, is in a poor state of repair and has rarely been used since the 1960s.