I am happy to announce that on April 24, city council unanimously approved a $350,000 Heritage Conservation Grant for the St. Boniface Cathedral Renewal Project.
With an estimated cost of $6 million, the renewal project consists of repairing major structural deficiencies in the existing building, but also within the renowned ruins.
The project also aims to make the site accessible to the larger community and to people of all faiths, thus creating a new community gathering place for residents of all of St. Boniface.
For the past several years, I have been working closely with the St. Boniface Cathedral’s Project Capital Campaign Cabinet on their vision for the building, and I am proud to support their ambitious efforts to revitalize the historic St. Boniface precinct area.
The St. Boniface Cathedral is not only an important icon for St. Boniface, it’s one of the City of Winnipeg’s most famous and recognizable structures. Sites like these support local economic development through tourism, but also allow our history and common cultural identity to be preserved for future generations.
The St. Boniface Cathedral was designated a provincial historic site in 1994, and on Jan. 8, 2013, it received a new heritage designation from the City of Winnipeg.
It was recommended by the Historic Buildings Committee to classify the St. Boniface Cathedral and the grounds, including the cemetery, as a Grade I municipally designated site. Currently, there are only 10 Grade I buildings identified throughout the city, while 235 buildings are classified Grade III. About a dozen other buildings throughout St. Boniface have also received City of Winnipeg heritage designation.
The St. Boniface Cathedral has a history that spans almost two centuries. The Roman Catholic Mission was founded near this site in 1818 and has since been the centre of francophone and Métis society since the earliest European settlement in Western Canada.
The present cathedral, officially opened in 1972, is within the ruins of the stone Romanesque cathedral that was opened in 1908 and destroyed by fire in 1968.
While being a place of worship, the cathedral is also an architectural and artistic symbol in St. Boniface that must absolutely be preserved. The cemetery and the ancient walls are the setting for plays, inspiration for photographers, and an attraction for tourists looking for the names of notable historic figures, such as Bishops Provencher, Taché, Langevin, and Louis Riel, the founder of Manitoba.