Church Point Things to Do
St Mary's church is the largest wooden church in North America. It only took 2 years (1903-1905) to build. It was built with the help of 1500 local volunteers. The entire structure is wooden, including the columns. The columns are actually tree trunks covered in plaster, they reach a height of 63 feet. The amazing steeple reaches a height of 185 feet. That is 34 feet taller than the Statue of Liberty (measured from base to torch)
There are 41 stained glass windows, 21 which depict the life of the Virgin Mary. Along the walls there are 14 stations of the cross which were carved by a man named Steve Gennette. The 9 paintings on the ceiling were done by a French-Canadian artist named St Hilaire. The altar was shipped over from France.
Located on the left side of the church, near the altar is an exhibit area. There are vestments, furnishings, documents and photographs. Behind glass panes are rare or precious items. These items are the only of their kind in Nova Scotia.
The admission is $2/person or $5/family. This fee goes towards the maintenance of the church. They are open May - October from 0900 - 1800. If you wish to attend mass it is Sunday at 1030 and Mass is spoken in French.
The church is wheelchair accessible and there is ample free parking.Related to:
- Religious Travel
- Budget Travel
The sole reason for me stopping at Church Point was to visit the Church / Museum of St. Mary (Eglise - Musee Ste. Marie) as I had read that it was the largest wooden church in North America and I am extremely glad that I did as it is quite wonderful with a fascinating history.
The story of the construction of St.Mary's reveals it as a true community based place of worship as it was constructed in a mere two years (1903 - 1905) by 1500 local volunteers under the supervision of an illiterate master carpenter. Illiterate he may have been but he certainly knew a thing or two about wooden building construction as you can see from quite a distance when first you catch sight of the 185 foot steeple. This dominates the skyline and makes the building even taller than the Statue of Liberty.
Entering the building you will be greeted by one of the attendants (bi-lingual in French / English) who will invite you to look around at the stunning interior and point out places of interest to you. It really is incredible to imagine that so huge a structure is completely wooden including the sturdy columns supporting the roof. Each one is a single plaster covered tree trunk measuring 70 feet and is testament to the quality of the local lumber. When you consider that the steeple is ballasted by 40 tons of rock and the bells alone weigh two tons it almost beggars belief that wood can be so strong.
Although I am certainly no architectural expert, I am informed that it is of the French Breton style and is the only church in the world of this style constructed from wood. The altar was imported from France and there is a lovely little story told about it. Apparently, the Customs officer at the harbour where it was landed was a native of the area and conveniently managed not to see it being brought ashore (despite it's size) thereby avoiding the import duty. God, as they say, does indeed move in mysterious (if illegal) ways!
As if this unique and impressive place of worship was not enough to see itself there is a further treat for the visitor in the form of a small museum in the rear of the building whch houses numerous religious artefacts. The Museum was begun in 1970 and is constantly being added to with the latest additions being a collection of Madonna images form around the world.
The Church / Museum is fully wheelchair accessible with ample parking and washrooms (again accessible). It is open 0900 - 1700 from mid May until October. Should the visitor wish to worship here, masses are said in both French and English, full details on the website. Suggested donations for admission are $2 per person or $5 per family. This is a modest amount for such an interestng place to visit which I strongly recommend you do if you are in the area.Related to:
- Religious Travel
- Budget Travel
The tallest and largest wooden building in North America. It's really a lovely and simple church, and fits in beautifully with the surroundings. The steeple is visible from quite a distance; it's the quintessential picture of Pointe de l'Eglise.Related to:
- Museum Visits