An iconic local landmark will receive a financial boost to help preserve its history and heritage, as well as support its evolving role in the community and beyond.
St. Boniface Cathedral is set to receive a $350,000 Heritage Conservation Grant from the city, after it was unanimously approved by council recently.
The grant will go towards the continued restoration of the historic cathedral and into the larger coffers of the St. Boniface Cathedral Renewal Project — a $6 million capital campaign launched last year.
The building was designated a Grade 1 municipal heritage site by a city committee earlier this year based on its age, architectural and historical significance, including its connections to Winnipeg’s francophone community and its iconic status, according to city documents. The site also holds a provincial heritage designation and is seeking a federal designation as a National Historic Site.
Project manager Julie Turenne-Maynard said last year the campaign targeted parishioners and members of the archdiocese, as well as all three levels of government, while with this year’s campaign "we’re starting to go to the public and corporate sectors."
Turenne-Maynard, who lives in Southdale, said the campaign has numerous long-term goals. To complement the opening of the future Canadian Museum for Human Rights at The Forks, she said the overarching vision for the cathedral is to "make it as inclusive and welcoming as possible, to harbour reconciliation and peace and bring everybody together. We really want to make people come to the cathedral, which pulsates at the heart of our city and continent."
Restoration of the cathedral is earmarked for different phases and the scope of the work includes the replacement of the metal roof and altar window, structural upgrades and restoration of the ruins.
Turenne-Maynard said plans also include a major upgrade of electrical and mechanical equipment and better lighting, as the cathedral aims to host more concerts, musicals and interfaith gatherings, while ideas for sound and light shows to be projected on the cathedral’s facade are being explored.
"The cathedral’s Romanesque architecture is rare in Western Canada and the ruins are very dominant. It gets more than 100,000 tourists a year as it is," Turenne-Maynard said, noting that Louis Riel’s grave alone annually attracts visitors from numerous schools.
"It also attracts many photographers and wedding parties," she added. "On the heritage side, the site is a real gem."
Coun. Dan Vandal said the cathedral is "an important icon" for not only St. Boniface, but also Winnipeg and the province, noting "it is important to protect historic sites like these, not only to support local development, but to make sure our history and common cultural identity are preserved for future generations."
To learn more, visit www.cathedralestboniface.ca.