St. Joachim’s Parish
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  Posted February 18th, 2012 by Zdenko  in Edmonton | 2 comments

Edmonton heritage

By: Zdenko Kahlina

Church History
TSt. Joachim’s Roman Catholic Church is a red-brick church situated on a portion of two lots in Edmonton’s Oliver neighborhood.

Completed in 1899, the building manifests the strong influence of late nineteenth century French-Canadian church architecture. Prominent features of the red-brick church include a symmetrical front facade, gable roof, projecting central tower flanked by shorter corner towers, round-arched windows, and stone keystones, stringcourses, and sills.

St. Joachim’s Roman Catholic Church

Heritage Value

The heritage value of St. Joachim’s Roman Catholic Church lies in its association with the establishment and development of the Catholic community in Edmonton and in its excellent representation of late nineteenth century French-Canadian ecclesiastical architecture.

St. Joachim’s is Edmonton’s oldest Roman Catholic parish, dating back to 1854 when Father Albert Lacombe converted a small building within Fort Edmonton into a chapel. It was later given the name of St. Joachim by Bishop Alexander Antoine Taché.

St. Joachim’s Roman Catholic Church

The parish remained within the Fort until 1877 when it was rebuilt at 121 Street and Jasper Avenue on land donated by Malcolm Groat. During this period there was no single resident parish priest with various clergymen taking up the task at different times. In 1883, Father Henri Grandin became the first resident priest. In 1883 he purchased some land from the Hudson’s Bay Company and in 1886 had completed work on a third St. Joachim’s Church. Grandin left the parish in1889 and it was presided over by several priests over the next decade, including Father Lacombe.

St. Joachim’s Roman Catholic Church

My son was married in St. Joachim’s Roman Catholic Church

Our wedding party in the church

Father Hippolyte Leduc took over the church in 1896. Under his direction in the summer of 1898 construction of the existing church at 9920-110 Street began. The completed building, which opened on December 8, 1999, was unmistakably Roman Catholic in design but unique for Alberta-the building materials, such as interior wood paneling and the use of side pinnacles, were more common of Quebec architecture. St. Joachim’s was designated a provincial historic resource in 1978.Saint Joachim and Saint Anne have been venerated as the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary since the first century A.D. Hence, it is fitting that the first parish in Costa Mesa would be named after the husband of the saint whose name was given to the neighboring city, Santa Ana. The founding Pastor, Msgr. Thomas Nevin, had his first priestly assignment in Santa Ana. The new parish was founded on March 16, 1947. At its beginning, the parish territory included all the city of Costa Mesa and parts of Newport Beach.

Costa Mesa traces its history to a Spanish land grant in 1810 to Jose Antonio Yorba. By 1880, settlers had bought sections of the land grant from the Yorba heirs and had established the town of Fairview. A storm in 1889 destroyed the small town. A new small town, called Harper, named for a nearby rancher, was established and it gradually grew. In 1920, Harper officially changed its name to Costa Mesa, meaning “Coastal Table Land” in Spanish, and continued as an agricultural community. The city survived the Great Depression, in spite of the collapse of many businesses, and during the Second World War, it was the training site for thousands of people at the Santa Ana Army Air base. When Saint Joachim Parish was founded some of the old buildings of this Army base served as temporary quarters for parish activities.

St. Joachim dream

The land for the parish was purchased in the summer of 1947. The old base chapel was moved to the property and remodeled in time to celebrate Christmas Masses that year. On June 13, 1948, Bishop Timothy Manning dedicated the new church building. On September 12, 1949, the new school was opened, under the leadership of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange, using barracks also transferred from the base. In 1954, a new addition to the church building was completed, doubling its capacity. In 1965, the current church structure was built and dedicated.

As Southern California expanded over the decades, so has the parish, reaching its current membership of over 3,000 families and reflecting the ethnic mix of the changing times. In 1960, one half of its territory was transferred to its daughter parish, St. John the Baptist.

The parish embarked on a major expansion of its facilities in 2004, building new classrooms, administration offices, a rectory and a parish hall. Many priests and religious have served the people of the parish under the leadership of its pastors, Monsignor Thomas Nevin, Father Kenneth Krause, and Father Joseph Robillard. The parish is led by the current pastor, Father Enrique Sera, two vicars, Fathers Gilberto Escobedo and Stephen Doktorczyk, a professional pastoral staff and the school principal, Sister Kathleen Marie Pughe, C.S.J. The community is also blessed with able volunteers who serve on lay boards and councils. The mission of the parish is to open its doors to all who with to follow Christ in the Roman Catholic tradition and to reach out in love to all of its neighbors, Catholic and non-Catholic alike.

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of St. Joachim’s Roman Catholic Church include such features as:

-         location in Edmonton’s Oliver neighbourhood.


- mass, form, scale, and style;
- red brick construction with stone stringcourses, keystones, and trim;
- tall central tower with a double lantern belfry featuring four large corner pinnacles and surmounted by a galvanized steel steeple;
- two smaller side towers crowned by smaller spires;
- non-structural buttressing between the round-arched aisle windows;
- corbelling under the cornice;
- fenestration pattern and style, including oeil-de-boeuf window on front facade, round-arched windows, and painted glass windows.

- window tracery;
- segmented nave barrel vault sheathed with wood panelling and tracery;
- semi-circular nave arcading;
- perimeter wainscot and window trim;
- elaborate wood stair to choir;
- one-storey brick vestry on building’s north-west corner with lancet windows and east entry door;
- original interior details, including central altar, painting above altar, lateral altars, lectern with a wineglass shape, organ, Stations of the Cross, pews, statuary, original doors, and vestry cabinet.


Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 481)




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2 comments to “St. Joachim’s Parish”

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