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Architecture Religious

Canadian Churches

An Architectural History

by (author) Peter Richardson & Douglas Richardson

photographs by John Visser

Firefly Books
Initial publish date
Oct 2007
Religious, History, General
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2007
    List Price

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The first definitive guide to Canada's most beautiful and significant churches.

In every city and town in Canada, churches stand as monuments to our spiritual, ethnic and architectural heritage. With as many styles as there are denominations of faith, these buildings tell the story of 250 years of immigrants bringing their Old World traditions into a New World landscape, and of how these traditions changed over time as the country moved west.

These magnificent buildings were constructed by many different denominations and in very different styles, but they all have in common the desire to create a lasting and suitable monument to their faith.

Canadian Churches: An Architectural History is the first definitive guide to more than 250 of the most beautiful and significant churches across the country. Peter Richardson and Douglas Richardson provide the history of each church, including its construction, subsequent alterations or additions, the early congregation, and any architectural details that make these churches unique and noteworthy.

Packed with more than 400 photographs, this book is as beautiful as it is informative. The authors have captured the essence of the buildings as well as the human drama and passion that led to their creation. The rich history and beauty bring a romance to the "architecture of religion" that will leave readers captivated, regardless of their faith.

Canadian Churches is a must for anyone interested in Canadian architecture, history and religion.

About the authors

Peter Richardson is the author of three collections of poetry: Sympathy for Couriers, which won the 2008 A.M. Klein Poetry Award, An ABC of Belly Work, and A Tinker's Press. His poems have also appeared in magazines and journals such as Descant, Poetry, Sonora Review, the Malahat Review, Poetry Ireland Review, and the Rialto (UK). He lives in Gatineau, QC.

Peter Richardson's profile page

Douglas Richardson's profile page

John de Visser, R.C.A. and the Grand River Conservation Foundation

John Visser's profile page

Editorial Reviews

An impressive and timely coffee table book... a worthwhile overview of the country's religious architectural heritage.

The Gazette (Montreal)

This 448 page masterpiece dedicated to the art of ecclesiastical architecture has left out very few of the vast number of churches from coast to coast. Richly documented with vivid colour photography ... this is a must have to those who live in decommissioned churches as inspiration to [their] care and restoration, or to those who love our built ecclesiastic heritage.

Edifice Old Home Magazine

Takes us on a mammoth photographic tour of 180 places of worship.

Quill and Quire

Recommended for its breadth, engaging and informative text, and discriminating selection of representative church architecture.

Library Journal

Illustrated throughout with specially commissioned photographs, artwork, drawings and illustrations, this book is a must for anyone interested in history, architecture and religion.

Heritage Matters, Vol 6 Issue 3, publication of Ontario Heritage Trust

Richardson's book has not been out more than a month, and already five of its featured churches have been lost.

Ottawa Citizen and

The first definitive guide to more than 180 of the most beautiful and significant churches across the country.

University of Toronto Bulletin

[reviewed with Canadian Cemeteries] It is de Visser's images that really make both books sparkle, with heavenly sense for new angles and shafts of light. For their part, the authors of both books manage to keep up with de Visser's brilliance, covering their respective topics with impressive passion.

Quill and Quire

Delightful for historians and architectural buffs.

Muskoka Today

This beautifully illustrated book, which includes the history of each church and its construction, is a must for architecture and history buffs.


The book is a significant contribution to the history of architecture in Canada. Packed with gorgeous photographs, plans and elevations, it is a handy reference work and the kind of book anyone can consult before a weekend drive.

The Hamilton Spectator

Oversized, in full colour, this book is an important reference for Canadian Christian architecture.

Escarpment Views

But for its size and weight, [Canadian Churches] would make an indispensable vade-mecum for travellers.... The prose captures and teases out the pictorial content of the splendid illustrations, in which often enough only two pictures stand for the monument.... Accessible to the amateur, there will also be enlightenment for those well versed in Canada's ecclesiastical built heritage. The organization of the book, a difficult in such a broadly ecumenical cross-country survey, has been achieved with great success.... In a time of accelerating church closures, changes in use, or even demolition, the Richardsons' work can educate and inform the actions of church officials and congregations.

Studies in Religion/Sciences Religieuses 37/3-4

A compendium of detailed descriptions and stunning photos of churches from across Canada ... some of them almost too incredible for words.

Star Phoenix (Saskatoon)

Whether you consider yourself a religious person or not, Canadian Churches: An Architectural History is a most moving experience.... What one will take from this book is a profound sense of reverence for these sacred buildings.

Shelf Life

The beauty and religious diversity of the profiled churches illustrate how architecture shapes a congregation's worship service.... Christopher Wren said, "Architecture aims at eternity."The churches visited in this book bear out that observation.

American Reference Books Annual 2008

[reviewed with Old Canadian Cemeteries] They are generous banquets for both eye and mind, architectural field guides for the curious, treasuries of information aobut realms of Canadian material culture that, to my knowledge, have never before been give popular treatments more ample.... Canadian Churches succeeds as a worthwhile overview of the country's religious architecture.

The Globe and Mail

Canadian Churches is a remarkable achievement, conveying the richness of the spiritual heritage of Canada, expressed in its built form.

Catholic Insight

There are plenty of beautiful, famous and historic churches worth visiting in Canada, a point made emphatically by [this] new book.

The Nugget (North Bay ON)

A striking and thorough journey into the history and architecture of Canada's religious buildings.... Stunning photographs.... This full-color tome should satisfy anyone seeking enlightenment in Canada's architectural and religious history.

Up Magazine (Westjet)

In Canadian Churches, religious historian P. Richardson and architectural historian D. Richardson (both, emer., Univ. of Toronto) strike a graceful balance between a broad range of types that represent chronological and geographic diversity while grouping the buildings into compelling narratives that center on historic and cultural context rather than the old-school approach to categorization by style.... First divided geographically, the book then unfolds in sections that highlight significant seasons of church design and construction, telling the stories of a wide range of places and traditions, from the egalitarian millenarians who built Sharon Temple to the Ukrainian Catholics of Ontario. The refreshingly contextual historical narratives are made more enjoyable by the book's beautiful production, with rich color photographs by de Visser and occasional plans, sections, and period drawings. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-level undergraduates through graduate students; general readers.


There are plenty of beautiful, famous and historic churches worth visiting in Canada, a point made emphatically [in this book.]

Ottawa Sun

Over and over John de Visser's stunning and mind-swallowing photographs illustrate architectural imagination as a unique height of human capability. The authors' fresh and engaging text informs with intriguing h istorical and architectural detail and delights sylistically too.

On the Arts

Sumptuously illustrated ... The Richardson brothers provide us not only with a comprehensive geographical and chronological survey of Canada's Christian sacred buildings but also place these monuments to faith in both a theological and sociological context... [They] have produced a remarkable document that deserves the widest possible audience.


Simply incredible...visually satisfying... insightful, interesting and meticulously researched.... This book would be a huge hit for anyone interested in Canadian history, architecture and religion.

The Wayback Times (

Sumptuous ... a veritable feast of colour.... The many rewarding hours readers are sure to enjoy with this book make it a wonderful addition to anyone's library.

Built Heritage News

The rather dry title...only hints at the riches within this enormous, comprehensive, stunningly beautiful survey of Christian houses of worship in this huge northern country.... It is a dangerous book to open if the reader only has a few moments to spare.

Anglican Journal

Other titles by Peter Richardson

Other titles by John Visser