Harbouring Grace

In the town of Harbour Grace, there are many hidden gems. There are magnificent trees that dance in rings, exquisite houses, historic store fronts, secreted cemeteries and nooks and crannies just begging to be explored.

There are also some pretty obvious jewels and one of those is the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception*(see note at bottom of entry).


It is a heritage structure whose history is inextricably tied to the community of Harbour Grace, an area that was once the English capital of Newfoundland.

Through the front gates

They’re gradually working on restoring it. Since we last took a good look at it five years ago, many of the buttresses have been re-enforced.

Look way up

There’s still a lot to do, of course. The stonework needs more parging….


… and while some of the buttresses have seen work, there is clearly more to be done. In the photo below, you can see the crumbling stonework in the upper right-hand side. There’s a shrub growing in the eaves.

Side wall of transept.

Much of the stone itself is showing the effects of years of erosion.

Weathered stone.

And while the years have worn away at some parts, other parts have grown richer in colour thereby. The brickwork around this window has acquired an oxidized, blue patina.

Tall and elegant

In one corner of the yard lies a pile of stone. Initially, it simply looked like building material. It is, of course, just that, but it is more complex than it might seem. It’s actually a set of pieces that all fit together, like a puzzle, interlocking to form one of the crosses that tops the five-side apse. At least, that’s what it looks like!

A stone jigsaw puzzle in a corner.
John and Katherine working out how the pieces all fit together.

My personal favourite sections are the parts where the brick contrasts with the stonework. The solidity of the stone, the dash of colour of the brick and the thin tracery of the white, wooden, window framing kept catching my eye.


We tried to get a look inside, but apparently the church is closed for the season. Perfectly understandable, really. Heating something that large, while it’s under repair, would be a phenomenal expense. We’ll head back to visit this elegant lady in the spring, when nature will take the edge off the chill inside (although it being a stone church, it will undoubtedly still be frigid!).

Church of the Immaculate Conception

* It really isn’t a cathedral any more. A cathedral is a building that houses the Bishop’s Seat, or cathedra. At present, the bishopric is centred in Grand Falls. Harbour Grace was indeed once the home of the Bishop’s Seat. It was also at one time co-cathedral with Grand Falls. At present, it is a very grand religious building that was once a cathedral. So architecturally and historically, it is a cathedral, having been built as one and used as one, but religiously, it is currently a church. Which is why it is alternately referred to by both nouns. Clear as mud?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s