Kingston’s Saints: St. Mary’s

1808-1880
St Mary’s Cathedral before the enlargements of 1889. Source: Henderson booklet on Kingston c1888, coll. J. McKendryPinterest
St Mary’s Cathedral before the enlargements of 1889. Source: Henderson booklet on Kingston c1888, coll. J. McKendry

A few Roman Catholics continued on in Kingston following the British capture of Fort Frontenac and their spiritual needs were first met by a small church built on the corner of William and Bagot streets in 1808. Significant Irish immigration in the 1830s and 1840s increased their presence in the community. Construction of a new church construction of a new church commenced on what is now the corner of Johnson and Clergy in 1843 under the direction of architect G. Murray and financed by public subscription. A simple structure was ready for divine service by 1846 and the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Immaculate Conception was consecrated in 1848 and dedicated as a monument to Bishop Macdonell. Constructed from cut-stone excavated on the site, the Gothic style church was 210 long by 88 feet wide with a spire that was the tallest structure in Kingston at the time. During the bishopric of Rev. E.J. Horan (1858-75) additions included a main altars, two side altars dedicated to the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph, and the installation of pews. Further reconstructions and improvements followed after installation of Bishop Cleary in 1880.