Campaign launched to restore one of Sandy Hill’s oldest buildings

Three members of the St. Albans Masonry Task Force on a recent Sunday morning – from left to right: Michelle Sorenson, the Rev. Michael Garner and Robyn Sulkk
Photo Sarah Williams

St. Albans is downtown Ottawa’s oldest surviving church building and one of its most historic. If you take a step inside its doors, you will likely find much more than a beautiful historic building; rather, you will see a place of community, practical support, worship, and art.

Any day of the week, you will find the staff of Belong Ottawa’s Centre 454, a community ministry of the Anglican Diocese, welcoming upwards of 150 people who access laundry, showers, internet, counselling services, and other social programs and resources on the lower level of the building.

Most days, if you head upstairs, you will notice that the church nave has been transformed into a peaceful place for people to sleep during the day, with chairs replaced by cots. This constitutes a stark difference from the lively crowds you will find gathered in the nave for two church services on Sunday mornings: St. Albans at 10:00 in English and la Communauté St-Bernard à St. Albans at noon in French.

If you come by in the evening, you may find youth playing games, a local theatre group practicing a new piece, or a crowd gathering for a concert or meal together.

It’s not hard to recognize the importance of this building. However, there is currently a price tag attached to keeping it in good shape for generations to come. A significant masonry project is underway to repair the stonework that keeps the walls from falling in; it costs $450,000.

In anticipation of this work, and with the support of the Anglican Diocese of Ottawa, the Anglican Foundation, as well as the City of Ottawa’s Built Heritage Grant and donations from community members, past and present, St.  Albans and St-Bernard have managed to raise a significant portion of what’s required. They are now seeking to raise a final $35,000 towards the project.

People interested in contributing to the St. Albans masonry fundraising campaign can find out more at https://stalbanschurch.ca/donate/, with charitable tax receipts issued for donations. Contact guy4448@hotmail.com

This article was prepared by members of the St. Albans Masonry Task Force.

St. Albans’ Gothic interior, before a concert
Photo Rev. Michael Garner