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History ~ Saint Patrick's Parish

The parish's archives consist of the following records:

  • Baptism 1880 - Present
  • Marriages 1887 - Present
  • Death Records 1930 - Present
  • First Communion 1947 - Present
  • Confirmation 1912 - Present

(notes by Blair Beed, author/historian; from the collection
of the late William (Bill) Kelly, church historian; and other sources.)


The name of Saint Patrick’s originated out of the Irish community who met for service with others in a stable of Michael Egan at the southwest corner of Gerrish and Gottingen Streets. A silver chalice from Saint Patrick’s Church, Halifax, founded in 1843 as a mission of Saint Mary’s is the oldest artifact connected to the parish. The markings on the pedestal indicate it was made circa 1840 by a Halifax silversmith, James Langford (b.1815-d.1847).

 -1845 Saint Patrick’s moved into a former Dissenters Meeting House on Brunswick Street that had been used as the Anglican Garrison Chapel. A tower and spire was added and the bell for Saint Patrick’s arrived in 1851. A school was opened in the basement in 1857. This same site was used for the building of the present church. Brunswick Street had developed into a fine residential area as local merchants built stately homes amongst the original cottages. With 8 churches close together the street was known as ‘church row.’

Saint Patrick Church 1840 - 1883
Saint Patrick Church
1840 - 1883

[The Little Dutch Church c. 1756 is owned by the Anglican Church and is occasionally used for services. It has been restored; Saint George’s Anglican, the Round Church c.1800 has been restored after a fire in the 1990s; Cornwallis Street Baptist was established in the 1830s and renovated in the early 1900s, Trinity Anglican was built in the 1920s on the site of the new Garrison Church that had been destroyed by fire; the former Universalist Church of the Redeemer later purchased in 1949 as Saint Patrick’s social hall is now condominiums; Saint John’s Presbyterian Church was destroyed in the Halifax Explosion and the congregation rebuilt on Windsor Street what is now known as Saint John’s United; Brunswick Street United Church was rebuilt in the 1980s after a fire destroyed the former Methodist Church of 1830’s.

It is also interesting to note that all of the c.1800s churches north of North Street were destroyed in the Halifax Explosion.]

- In December 1867 the first meeting of the newly formed Saint Patrick’s committee of Saint Vincent de Paul Society was held in the church basement.

-1872 a new school building was erected on Lockman Street (now Barrington) just below and south of the church.

-1873 Saint Patrick’s Band established.

-1882 Archbishop Hannon made plans for a new Saint Patrick’s but passed away before work began. The plans of Patrick Keely who had designed the granite front and steeple at Saint Mary’s Basilica were considered but not chosen. A submission by P. W. Ford of Boston was also rejected. Henry Peters, a Halifax Roman Catholic, with his assistant George H. Jost prepared the architectural plans for the brick and granite Gothic church. Mr. Peters had worked with his brother Simon and George Blaiklock on a number of Halifax projects including the plans for Saint Matthew’s Church (1858). In the 1860s and 1870s Mr. Peters worked through his own firm in the building of public buildings and private residences. Mr. Peters continued to superintend construction with the approval of the new Archbishop of Halifax, Cornelius O’Brien.

- April 2, 1883 the last mass was said in the old Saint Patrick’s.

- August 8, 1883, His Grace Archbishop Cornelius O’Brien laid the cornerstone for the current Saint Patrick’s Church. Inside the cornerstone, a tin box contained memorabilia including copies of the constitutions of the Charitable Irish Society and the Catholic Total Abstinence Societies as well as coins, newspapers and the autobiography of the newly consecrated Archbishop. The Archbishop visited the site every day throughout construction to view progress and bless the workers and volunteers. The building is in the Victorian Gothic style. It is a brick structure with Nova Scotia granite trim. The sides have been faced with stucco. It has a symmetrical front façade with typical Gothic detailing: hood drip moulds, spires, window tracery and buttresses.

-The first mass was held in the new church basement December 22, 1883 and on December 27, 1885 parishioners attended mass in front of the old altar in the newly opened upstairs church.

-1885 September 28 Archbishop O’Brien sends letter of thanks to Power Bros., Plastering 248 West Street 106th Street, New York, expressing ‘satisfaction with the plastering and stucco work done by you in Saint Patrick’s….’ James Reardon and Sons did the painting, tinting and gilding and were finished in November.

-1889 new Presbytery/Glebe House is completed and debt on it is paid off in 2 years.

-March 1890 Henry Peters the builder of Saint Patrick’s dies and leaves bequests for the glebe, a Magdalen Asylum for women and a Guardian Angel institution for children.

-1898 the Cassavant organ Opus 91 was purchased for Saint Patrick’s.

-1898-1903 stained glass windows installed.

-1910 the Rutland statuary marble high altar created by Griffin & Keltie of Halifax as well as the platform and steps. Stations of the Cross were installed. After 25 years the debt on the church was paid and on July 14, the church was consecrated by Archbishop McCarthy who had been parish rector.

-1921 the new Saint Patrick’s Boys School opened opposite the church on lands that had been bought by Father Murphy who wanted the school close to the church. The dwelling houses were demolished and the site offered to the school board at a low cost. The west side of Brunswick Street was also site of Saint Patrick’s Girls School and Saint Patrick’s Girls High School until 1954 when the new combined High School was built on Quinpool Road.

-1922 stained glass windows replaced by the Bavarian Art Establishment of Franz Mayer & Co., Munich and New York with repairs and improvements to the building carried out by Rambusch of New York who opened an office in Halifax to look after the work in many churches and buildings after the Halifax Explosion. The Rambusch Glass and Decorating Company of New York was founded in 1898 by a 29 year old Danish immigrant, Frode C. V. Rambusch, who moved to New York after attending the Royal Art Academy in Copenhagen and schools of applied arts in Berlin and Munich. His company specialized in decorative murals, ecclesiastical ornaments, and religious interiors. The company is now run by the fourth generation of the family.

-1933-45 under Father Donahoe a number of boys and girls clubs were established as was the Saint Patrick’s Credit Union. 1938 major youth rally held at Saint Patrick’s. He purchased the figures for the manger crib scene.

-1940’s Saint Patrick’s Minstrels show is run daily for entertainment of servicemen.

-January 1942-summer 1946 Father William M. Pepper (d. Nov 2001) served at Saint Patrick’s

-1944 census estimated 5600 parishioners within boundary.

-1945 February visitation at the Glebe House for Rt. Rev. Donahoe before his body moved to the church which was draped in black and purple by men of the Halifax Firemen’s Association.

Saint Patrick Church 1950's
Saint Patrick Church
1950's

-1946 major cleaning, repainting and varnishing under leadership of Father C. J. Martin. His brother, Balfour F. Martin of the firm of Martin and Moore Limited, Halifax carried out the painting supervision. Sanctuary lamp brackets and 18 new lighting fixtures were designed and hand made by Metal Industries Limited of Canada . The new shrines created at the back of the church with the realignment of access to the galleries were for Saint Anthony and Our Lady Mother of Perpetual Help. The shrines were the work of the Daprato Studios of Chicago. Saint Anthony’s League at Saint Patrick’s helps to complete the Saint Anthony’s shrine in the church. Angel Holy Water fonts were also added to the church. All work fully paid for by donations.

-The altar area would change again in the early 1950s when the Joseph Purcell mural paintings would be added and Saint Patrick on the top of the high altar would be replaced by a brass cross spire.

-1960s-70s some of the altar rail removed, some statues removed, small altar table installed. Lower church known as Saint Anthony Chapel or the children’s church, used for many years for a 10am childrens’ Mass to relieve congestion at the 5 Sunday Masses in the upper church, is turned over for use as hall.

-1971 Hope Cottage started by Father Mills and the parish.

-1980 Father Henry Kline, Pastor. Fathers J. Edward Grant and Charles Hatherly in residence.

-1980s Church is registered as Provincial Heritage Building.

-1984 September 14, Mass offered by His Holiness Pope John Paul II on the Halifax Commons within the parish boundaries of Saint Patrick’s Church. In many of the overview pictures of the Mass, Saint Patrick’s Church is seen in the background.

-1985 Archbishop Hayes celebrates 100 years of Mass being held in Saint Patrick’s Church.

-1992 Campaign lunch and auction for the new roof.

-1999 year of the older person celebrated at Saint Patrick’s.

Saint Patrick Church - Present
Saint Patrick Church
Present

-2000 Very Rev. John Williams (Pastor overseeing from Saint Mary’s) Father George Leach SJ, (Sacramental Ministry) Father Charles Pottie SJ, (in residence), Saint Patrick’s Social Club had a reunion.

-2003 7 people left homeless by fire were housed in Rectory. 350 attend Saint Patrick’s Day fun in hall.

- May 25 Strategic Planning Committee met to give response to Forward in Faith. A Parish Life committee to be formed and election held to have a new Parish council by fall. A future planning committee formed to be responsible on issues like the future of the church and rectory.

- October 24 Parish Council elections elected 9 council members to form the first parish council in a number of years.

- November, hall is turned into a homeless shelter. Parishioners donate sweets to go with drinks and soups available.

-2005 Parish Council approves committee to fundraise for a building condition survey to provide information regarding a major fundraiser to conserve and rejuvenate the historic building and systems.

- 2005 September, Jesuits move into the Glebe House taking the 2nd and 3rd floors and sharing the first floor.

-2005 Father Thomas Mabey appointed pastor of Saint Patrick’s and Saint Mary’s Basilica Cathedral.

October 2005 A building conservation study reveals it is time to stop ringing the bell in the church tower until repairs are undertaken.

-2006 June Father Basil Carew retires after many years of work for the people of Saint Patrick’s.

2006 July, the organ is declared a heritage organ and a plaque was presented by a convention of organists meeting in Halifax.

Read About the Mayer & Co. Stained Glass Windows


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