Restoration of the cathedral building – work is in progress!

Cathedral restorationIn recent weeks, the cathedral has been fitted with the scaffolding that will allow workers to beautify it, ensure its longevity and make its premises entirely safe. For an overview of the restoration work in progress, read on! If you prefer a short synopsis, watch our video featuring a recording of organist Gerald Wheeler playing a Bach Choral Prelude on the cathedral organ.


Cathedral restoration - spire
Work is ongoing inside the spire.

Inside the impressive aluminum cone of the spire, workers are removing panels that will be used in the coming weeks for repair and laboratory tests. The removal of the entire spire, a delicate and complex operation, is currently planned for the summer of 2018.

cathedral restoration - pinnacle
Architectural elements will be replaced where required.

Restoration of sculptural stones begins with a thorough examination of the elements that make them up. If too severely damaged, decorative buttons and ribbons are sketched and then reproduced by a stone sculptor. The photo on the left shows the damaged pinnacle of the north facade of the cathedral. The two stones at the top will be replaced. The third will be disassembled and its condition assessed before a final decision is made as to whether to restore it or replace it completely.

Cathedral restoration, mortar tests
Mason testing mortar for air content.

It takes care and expertise to create a durable and resistant mortar that is compatible with the original masonry and matches the aesthetic of the building. Several different mixtures may even be required to complete one project. A specialist in the mason’s workshop carries out mortar tests to determine the right compositions. Existing materials and assemblies, location, degree of exposure to the elements, and colour all come into play.

Finding the right stone for the job is an important part of restoration work. For instance, over the years, the pinnacle was repaired with Ohio sandstone and Indiana limestone, two types that are not compatible with each other because one contributes to the deterioration of the other. The condition of many of the cathedral’s buttress stones preclude their being restored. To find the perfect replacement stones, architect Nancy Labrecque scoured local quarries and carefully examined available materials. The blocks of limestone pictured here are those she chose to be used for our beautiful cathedral.

“We have every confidence in the architects overseeing the process,” says Donna Jean-Louis, Deputy Warden and a member of the committee overseeing the work on behalf of the church. “It is important to remember that restoration work (as opposed to new design) is slow and exacting, and must follow the very specific conditions set out by the heritage and cultural bodies that have awarded us restoration grants. To this end, our architects have been extraordinary. We are very happy to watch the tangible results of six years of careful planning and preparation unfold above the cathedral.”

Support the restoration of our beautiful cathedral
Of the funds raised by the campaign, $7,470,000 will go to repair the spire, restore the masonry and architectural elements, and upgrade the church interior. Please consider leaving a gift for future generations by clicking here and donating what you can. Big or small, every donation counts!

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