Embracing Our Heritage... Transforming Our Future

Listed on the Canadian Register of Historic Sites and a designated Provincial Heritage Place, The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception is associated with early Irish immigration in Saint John. Between 1845 and 1847, approximately 30,000 Irish arrived in the city, more than doubling the population. At the time, Saint John was second only to Grosse Isle, Quebec as the busiest port of entry for Irish immigrants in British North America.

Saint John’s only cathedral is an example of English Gothic architecture designed by Saint John architect Matthew Stead. Much of the original construction was accomplished by volunteers, many of whom worked as shipbuilders on the Saint John waterfront.

More than 100,000 people visit the Cathedral each year. 


“As one of the earliest cathedrals built in Canada, the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception holds a special place in our history. It is the mother church of our diocese and I am committed to keeping our cathedral open."

Most Rev. Robert Harris

Bishop, Diocese of Saint John

    Cathedral Restoration & Waterloo Village Revitalization

    Canada’s oldest incorporated city -- Saint John, New Brunswick -- is steeped in unique heritage. This historic city - like few other Canadian metropolitan areas -  is rich in urban, maritime, cultural, built and spiritual heritage, all of which contribute to the city’s legacy. Preserving this will not only ensure the sustainability of our inherited past but will also ensure this heritage is bestowed on future generations. It represents a bridge between generations: the sustainability and transformation of our cultural identity from generation to generation.

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        As the single largest landowner of contiguous property  in Saint John’s Central Peninsula and the Waterloo Village Neighbourhood, the Diocese of Saint John, in association with the Cathedral Heritage Foundation, is committed to conserving the built heritage characteristic of Saint John; to restoring its own historic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception which is both a Provincial Heritage Place and the sustaining centerpiece of the surrounding neighbourhood; and to developing adjacent properties and facilitating much needed urban and economic growth.

        Restoration of the cathedral building is our first priority and replacement of the entire roof was a major accomplishment. Since the roof was replaced, restoring the plaster ceiling has become a more urgent need, along with stabilizing the bell tower. There remains much work to ensure the cathedral’s continued presence as a sustaining force in the Waterloo Village neighbourhood.

          The revitalization of the Cathedral and the Cathedral neighbourhood is part of a comprehensive plan to enhance the community care capability of the Cathedral block, long identified with world-class health care, education, social justice and community outreach programs. The Cathedral and the Waterloo Village neighbourhood will be revitalized as a model of conservation and urban redevelopment and a catalyst for further benefits, including

          • Enhanced historic, cultural and heritage impact
          • Expanded gathering and meeting spaces
          • Affordable housing in the repurposed historic St. Vincent's High School
          • Genealogy and Heritage Interpretive Centre
          • Business, tourism and economic growth.

          Our Vision

          A restored Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception will be the heart of a transformed city neighbourhood… true to the dream of its original founders.

          About the Cathedral Heritage Foundation

          The Cathedral Heritage Foundation is a registered non-profit charitable organization established to preserve, restore, and enhance the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and its surrounding neighbourhood. The Foundation is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors responsible for the organization’s administration and oversight.

          We have the support of the business community. We are working with urban and community planners.  And we have sought out government and heritage advisors to ensure the success of this plan, the preservation of the Cathedral, and our continued ability to meet the needs of those less fortunate.

          Cathedral mid-1860s

          Cathedral from lower Waterloo Street 1890s

          Waterloo Street façade of Cathedral

          Cathedral interior mid-1940s

          St. Joseph’s Chapel mosaic gift of Lebanese community

          Late 20th century view of Cathedral at night

          CELTIC CROSS




          Stained Glass Window

          Inside Cathedral

          Outside Cathedral

          Last Supper Sculpture

          waterloo village concept rendering

          Cathedral Heritage Foundation Leadership