St. Clare’s Roman Parish

6310 118 Avenue, Edmonton

Built in 1961, St. Clare’s Roman Catholic Parish remains an established architectural presence within the urban community of Montrose. Inspired by the Prairie Style movement, the church is comprised of a two-storey sanctuary clad in sand-coloured brick masonry and capped by a vaulted roof. The church’s symmetrical floor plan is a traditional composition in the form of a cross - representing a more conservative approach at the time. The architect was careful to place the narrow face of the sanctuary - the primary entrance into the church - towards the busy street, and the altar towards the quiet realm of the neighbourhood, creating a sense of calm procession into the house of worship. Transepts to either side of the altar house the service programs of the church under flat roofs.

What is most evident in the design of this church is the architect's efforts to modernize classic architectural composition with contemporary building materials and aesthetic. In a fashion similar to the gothic cathedral, St. Clare’s expresses structural freedom and orientation to heaven through use of vertical rhythm - created by linear stained glass units which interrupt the masonry facade. The formal entrance of the church is reminiscent of gothic cathedral façades intended to draw significant attention to the church entry through ornamentation and proportional composition. 

The main entry of St. Clare’s is divided into three vertical portions which form a single elemental massing, standing proud of the main sanctuary. Two plain and symmetrical masonry walls flank the central, ornamental portion of the facade and direct the viewer's gaze to a boxy, manufactured cross which adorns the church roof. Parishioners step from the street onto a concrete stoop covered by a cantilevered, precast concrete canopy in a zig-zag form, shielding their arrival and departure from the elements. Above a humble, unornamented wood door, modular glazing units continue the vertical rhythm and frame a simple, coloured tile mosaic, reflecting modern architectures’ principles around simplicity of ornament. Through massing, the architect sets the church entrance apart from the sanctuary. The importance of the sanctuary is emphasized through the use of open latticework masonry blocks to create aesthetic contrast, enhancing the street presence of the church.

Notes on Community

The neighbourhood was named after the Marquis of Montrose, a celebrated Scottish hero famous for opposing forced Presbyterianism upon the Scottish people by English rule. In 1951, Montrose Elementary School was opened, and Edmonton City Council decided that the neighbourhood should be named after the school.

Notes from Archives

1st served by St. Alphonsus in 1943 with Masses in St. Clare school. Parish organized 1949.

1st church built 1950 from army building. 2nd church built 1961.

1st Pastor: Rev. E. Blanchard 1943 - 49 Current Pastor: Rev. Joseph Leszczynski 

559 Families

Further Reading

Edmonton’s “Sunday Modernism” – Modernist Churches in the Post-War Era - Edmonton City as Museum Project

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Era: The Post-War Years
Themes: Religion
Cultural Groups:
Area: Northeast

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