Christ Church Cathedral Ottawa
Christ Church Cathedral Ottawa Interior
Bishop John Chapman


Message from the Bishop

Bishop John ChapmanIt is my honour to welcome you to our Cathedral Church.

Christ Church Cathedral is our living and vibrant symbol of the ministry and witness of Christ in our Diocese, the world and, the capital of this wonderful country of Canada. Pilgrims throughout the world make pilgrimage to this historic and holy site; artistry, beauty and the soft echo of joyful and mournful prayer greet visitors as they enter the doors of our sanctuary for quiet, respite or liturgical prayer.

The Bishop's Cathedra (chair) stands prominently in the sanctuary, marking the Cathedral as a place of teaching, deep study and holy preaching. This ministry is of course shared with the Dean and the Cathedral staff, along with guest teachers and preachers representing the spectrum of the Christian tradition, as well as the diverse and rich spiritual traditions of our human community. The Cathedra symbolizes for the Diocese and the global church the bonds of communion within the Anglican tradition that link Dioceses throughout the world and, our historic link to the apostolic tradition which we have inherited from the apostles of Jesus.

Day after day, Sunday upon Sunday the Gospel of Jesus Christ is proclaimed. As well, mindful of the central role and place of our Cathedral in the capital and as the nexus from which our diocesan and Anglican ministry is expressed, the gospel is preached to the world - the gospel that proclaims justice for all human beings, reconciliation in place of conflict, tenderness rather than aggression, peace not violence. It is a strong, forceful yet elegant and gentle ministry that emanates from this historic yet current building.

Christ Church Cathedral is home to our Diocese. It is home to citizens of this country. It is home to all who find themselves led to this sacred site. Welcome, and may the peace of Christ be with you as you explore the ministry and people of Ottawa's Cathedral Church. May your lives be enriched and your relationship with God deepened.

+  John H. Chapman
9th Bishop of Ottawa

Bishop's Biography

The Cathedral in Ottawa


Historic Image
The history of Christ Church Cathedral is long and rich. A sense of the Cathedral's history can be experienced by a simple wander through the church and its adjoining premises.

The church has an undeniably historic and significant presence. History comes alive by reading the inscriptions of commemoration and dedication on stained-glass windows, on parts of the Cathedral's pipe organ, on memorial plaques, on embroidered clergy-desk and choir-stall cushions and altar kneelers, in prayer books and hymnals. Sample artefacts and photographs from the Cathedral's history are presented in display cases in the foyer of Cathedral Hall. An in-depth Cathedral history, complete with original documents and plans, can be accessed through the Diocese of Ottawa Archives located on the lower level of the Cathedral building.

From time immemorial, the Algonquin heartland has included the entire length of the Ottawa River, from its headwaters in north-central Quebec to its outlet near Montreal. The parish of Christ Church Bytown, now Christ Church Cathedral Ottawa, was established on unceded Algonquin territory that had been settled by European colonists. Following is a brief list of the highlights and milestones of the Cathedral's development in the post-settlement period.

Colonel John By begins construction of the Rideau Canal, to join the Ottawa River to Lake Ontario. The Canal begins to turn the shantytown of Bytown into a centre of commerce. Bytown Anglicans, who are worshipping at St. James Wrightsville (formerly Hull, now Gatineau) wish to have a church of their own.
Christ Church Bytown is formally established

Nicholas Sparks, who is homesteading in Bytown, donates a site on the bluffs at the western end of Wellington Street for the first Anglican church in Bytown. Plans are drawn for a 50' x 30' structure.
July 21: The first service is held in the unfinished stone structure

Walls are unplastered. There is no ceiling. There are no pews, just seats of rough plank. The church closes for the winter due to inadequate heating.

From 1837 through 1841, major developments are made to the church. Funds are raised for a font, pulpit and desk, and panels bearing the Lord's Prayer, the Ten Commandments and the Creed. The church is enlarged. A chancel, transepts, a bell tower and tin roof are added.
The church bell, from Mears Foundry in London, England, is installed. It remains in use to this day.
The church is consecrated
Bytown is incorporated as the City of Ottawa

The church builds galleries to hold its growing congregation
The church women raise funds to build a Tuscan-style stone rectory on the west side of the church
The Dominion of Canada is formed, with Ottawa as its capital
Talks begin to divide the Diocese of Ontario. This eventually leads to the creation of the Diocese of Ottawa.

Plans begin for a new church. The design is meant to harmonize with "the improvements taking place in the architecture of the city" - that is, the new Parliament Buildings. The church is designed in the Middle Pointed style of English Gothic. The steep sloping sill of the West Window is copied from Parliament Hill's East Block. The clerestory walls are similar to those of the House of Commons.
March 3: The last service is held in the old Christ Church. Demolition begins immediately.

July 3: The cornerstone for the new structure is laid
September 29: The first service is held in the new Christ Church Ottawa
The new Diocese of Ottawa is formed. Christ Church Ottawa is chosen as Cathedral.
Benediction of Christ Church Cathedral Ottawa
The Cathedral narrowly escapes the disastrous fire which sweeps through portions of the city directly below the bluffs on which the Cathedral is set
Lauder Memorial Hall is inaugurated. It is named for Dean John Strutt Lauder, the first Dean of the Cathedral. It is built to accommodate offices and Sunday School.

The Cathedral is consecrated
Plans begin to replace the 1872 Chancel
The new Chancel is opened. It includes a chapel, organ transept and sacristy. This addition, in the Modern Gothic style, extends the original structure of the Cathedral by approximately 10 metres.

The large new chancel makes it possible to meet the sophisticated musical needs of a Cathedral. With its distinguished Choir of Men & Boys, Christ Church Cathedral moves to the forefront of Ottawa musical life.

During two world wars and the decades that follow, the Cathedral takes an increasingly prominent role in the activities of the Capital. The 77th Regiment, the Canadian Guards and the Governor General's Foot Guards lay up their colours in the Cathedral. There are Royal Visits in the 1950s and 1960s. Several state funerals of Governors General and prime ministers and other officials of state and dignitaries are held at the Cathedral.

The federal government's growth during World War II and the baby boom which follows the War create the conditions for the Cathedral to grow, again.
Plans are made to build Cathedral Hall
Cathedral Hall is opened by Governor General Vincent Massey
The Memorial West Window is commissioned in celebration of the 150th Anniversary of Christ Church. The risen Christ is surrounded by symbols of faith and images of the Cathedral, the city, the nation's history, the natural world and the diverse faces of contemporary society.
The Cathedral is designated the Cathedral of the Canadian Armed Forces Canadiennes
Lauder Memorial Hall is restored to create more useful office space and rehearsal room for the choirs of the Cathedral

The 'Link' corridor and cloistered 'Garth' garden are built as part of the centennial refurbishment of Lauder Hall
The Cathedral celebrates the 175th Anniversary of Christ Church
Construction work on Cathedral Hill Development begins

... over 175 years ... of a continuing journey ... of building a diverse and vibrant parish ... that glorifies God ... and welcomes all people. Let us go in peace to love and serve the Lord.

The Cathedral of the Canadian Forces Canadiennes

In 1979, Christ Church Cathedral Ottawa was formally designated the Cathedral of the Anglican Military Ordinariate of the Canadian Forces

The Symbols of Christ Church Cathedral

Coat of Arms

Cathedral CrestIn 1996, to mark its centennial as a Cathedral, the Canadian Heraldic Authority presented Christ Church Cathedral with its Coat of Arms.

The white mitre indicates the Cathedral as the Chair (Cathedra) of a Bishop.

On each side of the mitre are heavenly stars: The work of the church is to lead and bring others to Jesus.

The blue background signifies the heavens.

The golden rays of light come from the image of Christ as The Light.

The red Cross of St. George expresses the roots of the Anglican church.

On the red cross is a wavy cross. This image is taken from the Cathedral's West Memorial Window. The west-to-east flow is that of the Ottawa River; the north, the Gatineau River; the south, the Rideau River and Canal system.

At the junction is the sacred monogram of Christ - the letters Chi and Rho, which begin the Greek word for Christ.


"Come all who are weary and heavy laden".
Matthew 11:28


The word "Cathedral" comes from the Greek word "cathedra", meaning chair. The presence of a Cathedra signifies that the church is a Cathedral - the Cathedral of the Diocese of Ottawa - and the official chair or throne of the Bishop of Ottawa. This Cathedra is carved out of oak, with a high back and arm posts supporting a six-sided, three-tiered carved crown.


Filigree CrossThis distinctive cross was installed in 2002, as part of the Cathedral's restoration. It closely resembles the church's original 1872 cross.

This filigreed cross is a cherished and beloved symbol of the Cathedral, and regularly appears in parish materials and various event and group logos.

Church Mice

Church MouseThere are four Church Mice in residence at the Cathedral - only four that are in official, permanent residence!: Ms. Bishopmouse, Mr. Deanmouse, Miss Pulpitmouse and Mr. Lecternmouse. Can you find them and make a visit?

The Mice kindly provide some clues, below.

Church Mice Hint

Christ Church Cathedral Ottawa  | 414 Sparks Street, Ottawa ON K1R 0B2 | Tel: (613) 236-9149 Fax: (613) 236-4386  | Cathedral Office
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