St. Vital Roman Catholic Church
Demolition is looming for Saskatchewan’s oldest Roman Catholic Church if a new use and rehabilitation funds are not found.
Why it matters:
Built in 1883 on a prominent site overlooking the North Saskatchewan River, St. Vital Church is the oldest Catholic Church in Saskatchewan. The vernacular, log structure – constructed using fur trade period post-on sill (poteaux sur sol) methods – sits on its original site and is directly connected with the founding of Battleford in 1875. The church property played a role in the North West Resistance in 1885. In later years, St. Vital grew to include many parishioners from the surrounding Indigenous communities. The church was designated a Municipal Heritage Property in 1985.
Why it’s endangered:
The St. Vital congregation moved to a newly built church in 1983 leaving the historic building vacant for the past 35+ years. Now owned by the Town of Battleford, the Town posted a notice in 2018 it wished to de-designate the church and potentially demolish it after receiving costly estimates for repairing the structure. Community members have voiced opposition to Town Council’s intention to reserve funds for demolition and remove the building’s heritage designation. The Town’s efforts to find a new use have stalled, and this pivotal historic resource is desperately in need of ongoing protection and collaboration to create a new vision for its future.
UPDATE 2021: Saskatchewan’s oldest Roman Catholic Church is undergoing an extensive restoration process. After listing on the Endangered Places List in 2019, the Town of Battleford launched a community survey which revealed broad support for saving the church. Town council subsequently voted to restore the building and pass management of the building to the Fred Light Museum. Despite delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic, work has continued with the roof and deteriorating foundation repaired last summer. It is hoped the church will be open to visitors in summer 2022.
Location: Battleford, SK
Top 10 Endangered Places List: 2019