Courtesy T. Andrews/GNWT

Courtesy T. Andrews/GNWT

Church of Our Lady of Good Hope National Historic Site

Statement of Significance

The Church of Our Lady of Good Hope is a small (45 feet by 20 feet), single story, wooden church, built in the late nineteenth century. It sits on a bluff above the Mackenzie River in the community of Fort Good Hope. To one side is an associated graveyard which is not part of the designation. The church is remarkable for its interior painted decoration. This designation refers to the church, both exterior and interior.

The Church of Our Lady of Good Hope was designated a national historic site in 1977 as an example of a mission church in the Gothic Revival Style.

The heritage value of this site resides in its illustration of northern mission churches in a simplified version of the Gothic Revival Style and in its interior decoration.

Begun in 1865 and largely completed by 1885, this building influenced the design of later Oblate mission churches in western Canada. It is one of the oldest surviving buildings of this type and its design, particularly the interior detail, offers a fine and unique example of church decoration in the northwest. The building is further distinguished by its association with Father Émile Petitot, renowned ethnologist, linguist and geographer of the Canadian northwest, who lived at the mission from 1864 until 1878 and was responsible for the design and the partial execution of the building’s interior decoration.

Key elements that contribute to the heritage value of this site include :

  • the rectangular, single storey massing;
  • side-sloping pitched roof with front gable and hipped roof at rear;
  • steeple above front entry; with pointed arch, louvered windows on three faces;
  • the wood construction materials and wood shingled roof;
  • the Red River frame construction, vertical plank sheathing and horizontal clapboarding techniques;
  • the minimal exterior decoration, including the simple facade with central doorway, flanking pointed arch windows and fretwork rose window above; pointed-arch, multi-pane windows and doorway ;
  • simple open plan of interior with curved, pointed-arch ceiling vault ;
  • Gothic style painted decoration of interior, including ornamentation surrounding figural panels and ornamented wainscotting, painted floor, painted tripartite arch motif at altar;
  • Carved wooden ornamentation in the Gothic style including carved and painted screen at rear of church, carved window surrounds and cornice fretwork, carved and painted altar, fretwork communion rail.

Quoted from Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada Minute, November 1978.

Supporting documents can be obtained from the National Historic Sites Directorate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Quebec.