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This artefact belongs to: © New Brunswick Museum
Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and Bishop's Palace, Waterloo Street, Saint John, New Brunswick
About 1865, 19th century
6.3 x 10.8 cm
This artefact belongs to: © New Brunswick Museum

Keys to History:

As early as the late 1820s, the religious and ethnic composition of Irish emigration to New Brunswick was undergoing a radical transformation. By the eve of the Great Famine, Irish immigrants arriving in St. Andrews, Miramichi and Saint John were overwhelmingly Catholic. Catholic churches, convents and schools began to dot the New Brunswick landscape. This expansion of the Catholic Church into New Brunswick seemed to validate the Orange Lodge warnings against "creeping Catholicism".

The growing Irish Catholic community expressed itself in a desire and plan for the construction of a cathedral in Saint John in the 1850s. To the surprise of many, Bishop Thomas Louis Connolly chose William Smith, a prominent Orangeman, to oversee the work.

Source : Out of Ireland [Web tour], by New Brunswick Museum (see Links)


Three thousand were present for the first Christmas Mass in 1855, when Bishop Thomas Louis Connolly, born in Ireland, dedicated the cathedral.


Local quarries supplied the stone used to construct the cathedral.


On March 28, 1853, the ground was broken and, by Christmas 1855, the exterior was finished.


It is estimated that no less than 221 stone cutters were employed at various times.

© Musée McCord Museum