Saint Boniface Cathedral

Coordinates: 49°53′21″N 97°07′19″W / 49.8893°N 97.1220°W / 49.8893; -97.1220
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Saint Boniface Cathedral
Cathédrale Saint-Boniface (French)
Saint Boniface Cathedral
AffiliationRoman Catholic
DistrictSaint Boniface
Location190 avenue de la Cathédrale
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Geographic coordinates49°53′21″N 97°07′19″W / 49.8893°N 97.1220°W / 49.8893; -97.1220

Saint Boniface Cathedral (French: Cathédrale Saint-Boniface) is a Roman Catholic cathedral of Saint Boniface, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. It is an important building in Winnipeg, and is the principal church in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Saint Boniface, serving the eastern part of Manitoba province as well as the local Franco-Manitoban community. The church sits in the centre of the city at 190 avenue de la Cathédrale, Saint Boniface. Before the fire on July 22, 1968, which destroyed the previous building on site, the church was a minor basilica.

The cathedral faces the Red River. In Verendrye Park is a statue of Pierre La Vérendrye by Joseph-Émile Brunet. Across the river is The Forks in Downtown Winnipeg.


Second Saint-Boniface Church in the distance (1821)

In 1818, newly arrived Rev. Norbert Provencher and two colleagues constructed the first church on land on the east bank of the Red River donated by Hudson's Bay Company's Thomas Douglas, 5th Earl of Selkirk. The small log building measured 50 feet by 30 feet and served as chapel, residence and school. It was soon replaced with a larger building. In 1832, Provencher, now bishop, built the first cathedral. "The bells of St. Boniface" are mentioned in John Greenleaf Whittier's 1859 poem "The Red River Voyageur". "On December 17, 1891, Whittier's 84th birthday, Archbishop Taché had "the bells of the Roman mission" rung in the poet's honour."[1]

Between 1908 façade and back of new cathedral

On December 14, 1860, a fire destroyed "Provencher’s cathedral". In 1862, Bishop Taché went to Quebec to raise funds to rebuild the cathedral in stone.[2] This second cathedral was somewhat smaller; the bell tower was completed eight years later.

Between 1888 and 1906, the number of Catholics in Saint Boniface had increased from 2,154 to 4,615, almost all of them of French heritage.[3] By 1900, Saint Boniface was the fifth-largest city in the West and needed a larger cathedral. Local contractors Senecal and Smith were engaged to build a new cathedral to plans by Montreal architect Jean-Omer Marchand. On August 15, 1906, Monsignor Louis-Philippe Adélard Langevin dedicated the cathedral, which became one of the most imposing churches in Western Canada.[4]

In 1972, a cathedral was built incorporating the back wall of the 1906 cathedral.

On July 22, 1968, the 1906 cathedral was damaged by a fire which destroyed many of the structure's features and contents including the rose window, vestments, 1860 bells, and parish records. Only the façade, sacristy, and the walls of the old church remained. In 1972, a new, smaller cathedral, designed by Étienne Gaboury and Denis Lussier, was built behind the 1906 façade.[4]

The Institute for stained glass in Canada has documented the stained glass at St Boniface Cathedral.[5]

Cathedral cemetery[edit]

The remains of Chief One Arrow, who died in the 1880s, were interred at the cemetery from his death until August 2007, when his body was exhumed and sent to One Arrow First Nation in Saskatchewan.[6]

Headstone for Louis Riel at the cathedral's cemetery.

Other notable people buried in the cathedral cemetery include:[4]


  1. ^ "Peel 2033: Whittier, John Greenleaf, The Red River voyageur (1892)". Retrieved 2020-05-21.
  2. ^ Bernhardt, Darren (July 22, 2018). "Absolute horror': Witnesses cried as fire consumed St. Boniface Cathedral 50 years ago". CBC News. Retrieved July 19, 2019.
  3. ^ "Articles | Encyclopédie du patrimoine culturel de l'Amérique française – histoire, culture, religion, héritage". (in French). Retrieved 2020-05-21.
  4. ^ a b c "St. Boniface Cathedral". Canada's Historic Places. Retrieved 2015-02-25.
  5. ^ "St Boniface Cathedral with Windows by the Architect". Institute for stained glass in Canada. Retrieved July 19, 2019.
  6. ^ "Native chief's remains return to Sask. century after his death". CBC News. 24 August 2007. Retrieved 8 August 2018.
  7. ^ Manitoba Historical Society

External links[edit]