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St. Mary's Catholic Church

312 Lynx Street, 1951

Fathers Blanchet and Demers held the first Mass in the Canadian Rockies in 1883 at the "Committee Punch Bowl" on the summit of Athabasca Pass, 225 km north of Banff, at the request of the Hudson's Bay Company. In 1845, Father DeSmet did missionary work with the First nations. Father Claude offered the first local Mass in 1883 beside the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) line at the base of Cascade Mountain for railway workers. Father Doucet offered the first Mass in the new town of Banff, August 4, 1886. Father Bleis had the first log Catholic Church built in 1888 at 226 Lynx Street. It was reclad in white drop siding in 1892.

This Romanesque-style church, built in 1951, replaced the original. Longtime Priest, Father R. McGuinness, an architectural engineer for the CPR before joining the clergy, designed it. The impressive rockwork is gneiss quarried by hand near Castle Mountain. The stained glass windows, added in 1953, also designed by Father McGuinness, were made in Innsburck, Austria, The main alteer is of Austrian marble and the window behind it is a replica of on in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. Internal wrought iron railings are vrom Dublin, Ireland.

The first Mass in the new church was held on Christmas Eve, 1951. The shrine was completed in 1954. The parish hall, designed by architects Stevenson, Raines, Seton, Barrett and Hutton, is a excellent example of a modern 1964 sympathetic addition.

St. Mary's Catholic Church


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