After fire destroyed St. Luke's in 1905, Bishop Worrell “felt there was a call from God to take up the long-neglected plan and give Nova Scotia the much-needed Cathedral.” Instead of the St. Stephen's site, he chose one of the “most commanding and central [sites] in the city, beautiful in appearance, easy access from all parts and not too far off for every member of St. Luke's and St. Stephen's to attend without inconvenience...” Bishop Worrell chose the noted American architect Ralph Adams Cram to design a stone Gothic Revival cathedral. The Halifax firm of S.M. Brookfield, which had much experience in the building of stone structures, obtained the contract for the cathedral's construction. On 26 September 1907, Worrell turned the first sod and a month later he re-laid the cornerstone.
Bishop Worrell was determined that the Cathedral opening be a national event of great importance to every member of the Canadian church. The year 1910 was the two hundredth anniversary of the first services after the capture of Annapolis Royal. The opening marked the beginning of the Church of England in Canada, he told Synod in 1909, and for this reason it should be a general rejoicing in the Dominion of the oldest colonial diocese in the world. Not only did the Canadian Church Congress, with its representation from across Canada, meet in Halifax for the occasion, but the event drew bishops and other clergy from Britain and the United States. The opening service was held on the 3rd of September, the cathedral was crowded to its doors. In attendance were many dignitaries from other provinces, national organizations, and universities. The service began with the procession of clergy, choir boys and men totalling 140 voices. Former bishop Frederick Courtney gave the sermon.
John Llwyd, the rector of the Cathedral, issued an invitation to the men of the congregation to attend a meeting with the aim of establishing a men's club of social and educational value. Dr. A. Stanley MacKenzie, president of Dalhousie University, became the first chairman of the club. During the First World War at the request of Cathedral ladies, club members became involved in providing entertainment to the soldiers who were temporarily stationed in Halifax.
By 1914 the growth in the cathedral congregation necessitated an increase in clerical assistance. It was evident that soon there would be a large increase in Halifax's population. This would be an opportune time for the Cathedral to grow and develop. The governing authority for the cathedral's administration, the Committee of Consultation and Advice, initiated the “Forward Movement.” The goal of the movement was to increase subscriptions through a canvas of the entire congregation for new or increased subscriptions through the envelope system. A sample envelope was prepared for a person with an income of $500 a year who wished to set aside five per cent a year, divided as follows: Cathedral Expenses, 25 cents per Sunday; Missions, 10 cents per Sunday; Widows & Orphans Fund annually, $1.00; Superannuation, annually $1.00; King's College, annually $1.00; Sunday School Commission, annually $1.00; Easter Offering, $1.80; Christmas Offering, $1.00.
In 1910, a group of Anglican women established The Diocesan Women's Cathedral League. The league’s primary purpose was to raise $10,000 for the purchase of a suitable organ. The league achieved this goal by 1912 and resolved to raise funds for defraying the large debt held by the cathedral. By 1916, the league had raised $7000, sufficient to obtain a release of the mortgage. Other organizations in the congregation of 1,563 (figure taken from Dean John Llwyd's visiting list) involved in the Cathedral's life were—Sunday School (enrolment of 300), Sanctuary Guild, Women's Auxiliary (Junior Branch), Women's Auxiliary (Girl's Branch), Brotherhood of St. Andrew (Senior Branch), Social Service League, Cathedral Men's Club, Guild of St. Barnabas for Nurses—Halifax Chapter, Girl's Club (for girls in domestic service), Cathedral Building Committee, and Young People's Association.
The cathedral was sufficiently distant from the epicentre of the explosion that it suffered less damage than other nearer churches. St. Mark's in the North End and Emanuel on the Dartmouth side were destroyed.
Among the most active of the groups associated with the cathedral was the Young People's Association. Its program for 1917–18 included a Scottish Night; a Masquerade; a Musical Evening; a Winter Driving Party; a Snowshoe Tramp; an Alaska Evening and a Literary Evening.
In 1920, “the Great Window,” a memorial erected in memory of those soldiers of the diocese who died in WW1, arrived in Halifax from England. The Great Window was created by English glass-artist, C.E. Kempe. The window places Christ at the centre, exalted and reigning in heaven as seen in the vision of St. John in Revelation, the Bible’s closing book.
On a bright, sunny June afternoon Dean John Llwyd and Archbishop Clare Worrell faced each other across a tennis net. The Dean swung a tennis racket and served two balls; the first hit the net; the archbishop missed the second and the Cathedral Tennis Club was officially opened on the south lawn. The ceremony celebrated the efforts of the cathedral's Young People’s Society, who raised $1,700 through sales, teas and entertainment. The Tennis Club's popularity resulted in the addition of two more courts two years later making the Club the largest east of Montreal. By 1931 the Cathedral Tennis Club had a membership of 40 ladies, 41 gentlemen and 24 juniors. Several players became Maritime champions including Eileen Odevaine (Cuthbertson). At the end of the 1931 season, it boasted a bank balance of $7.00.
In celebration of the Cathedral’s Silver Jubilee, on Sunday 3 November 1935 there were commemorative services at 8 am, 9:30 am, 10:30 am, 11 am and 7 pm. The Archbishop of Fredericton and Metropolitan of Canada preached at the 11 am and 7 pm services. For the remainder of the week there were daily services, each taken by different clergy from local parishes. A Silver Jubilee Fund was launched with three purposes: To record the gratitude of the congregation for maintaining the cathedral; As a practical way of removing the current bank overdraft; and as a nucleus of a larger endowment fund from which revenues would come in regularly.
An explosion at the Naval Ammunition Magazine on November 19, 1945, badly damaged the Cathedral’s Great Window. As a result, the congregation’s beloved sanctuary was closed for almost a decade while the glass was replaced, and the stonework repaired.
The Archbishop of Canterbury preached at Morning Prayer. The congregation celebrated the occasion of the archbishop’s visit with a special collection for the Cathedral Building Fund.
The Hymn Festival included the cathedral's choir along with visiting choirs from Holy Trinity, Liverpool; St. John's, Truro; St. George's, Falmouth; and St. James, Kentville. The choirs were directed by Maitland Farmer, the Organist and Choir Director from All Saints. Farmer’s student, Murray Vanderburgh, played the organ accompaniment.
With a cast of 50, performances were staged in the Dalhousie Gymnasium. The Cathedral Newsletter commented that: "The production has been undertaken with great care and in the spirit of devotion by members of the Guild. Every effort has been made to obtain authentic costumes and those who attend the presentation will be carried into the atmosphere of the greatest of all Bible stories.”
The Cathedral Tennis Club grew and prospered. Many provincial and regional championships were hosted at the club. In celebration of its Silver Jubilee, the club hosted the Canadian Lawn and Tennis Championships.
As an act of Christian friendship between the two great ports of the Commonwealth—Portsmouth and Halifax—and the navies that use them, Portsmouth Cathedral presented a processional cross. It had been made in H.M. Dockyard, Portsmouth and included wood from H.M.S. Victory, Nelson's flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar.
Arthur Wiswall joined a group of boy choristers at the age of nine at St. Luke's Pro-Cathedral in April 1872. Wiswall chose Easter Sunday in 1953 as the day to retire. He died in May 1956. His 81 years of dedicated service is believed to be a record within the Anglican Communion. His son, Dr. William Wiswall, donated a panel of the Memorial Window depicting St. Anthony and St. Basil in his father’s honour.
Before a large congregation at morning service, Bishop R.H. Waterman dedicated six memorial windows. One window was given in memory of the Outerbridge family; two in memory of Edmund Whiston and Jessie Kennedy Whiston; two in memory of Thomas Brown and Jessie Brown; and a sixth given by an anonymous donor. Following the service, over 100 men gathered for a luncheon in the parish hall over which G.D. Stanfield, chairman of the Great Window and Sanctuary Restoration Campaign, presided. During the afternoon, hundreds of homes in the Cathedral parish were visited in support of the campaign. Campaign contributions and pledges that day amounted to $41,000.
As part of the cathedral's Great Window and Sanctuary Campaign during November 1954 a visit was paid to every member of the Cathedral congregation. Before the end of 1955 the Great Window was fully restored.
In what is believed to be the first occasion when television cameras were present in the Cathedral, selections from The Messiah by the cathedral choir were televised live from 10 to 11 p.m. on 29 December 1956.
Bishop George Snell, Suffragan Bishop of Toronto, was the missioner. Bishop Snell conducted services every evening with combined choirs. The final service was on the evening of Saturday, October 26th. There was also a children's mission held every afternoon conducted by cathedral clergy with Bishop Snell in attendance. The theme of the Children's Mission was “The Voyage of the Good Ship All Saints,” Mothers were invited to attend and bring their younger children.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Halifax televised the Christmas Eve midnight service. In his newsletter, Dean William Davis celebrated this innovation: "Our Cathedral is a Diocesan Institution, yet many Anglicans in outlying parishes have never had the privilege of being at a service here. This Christmas, through the wonder of television, thousands [in the Maritimes] including many sick, shut-ins and elderly Church people will find a new recognition of the place of the Cathedral at the centre of Diocesan life and worship."
The Wambolt family donated the Pentecostal window in memory of Mr. and Mrs. James Peter Wambolt. The window was created by Alfred Wiklinson, F.I.A.I. of Brightling-sea, Essex, England. Its general theme is Pentecost, and the five central lights depict the scene of “cloven tongues like as of fire” while the Apostles stand in awe. The Holy Spirit, represented by a dove, is up on the vescia. Other panels depict: “The Armour of Righteous”; “The Sword of the Spirit;” “The Consecration of Bishop Inglis”; and other scenes related to the work of the Holy Spirit. On June 19, 1960, three more panels were dedicated. These panels were donated by the Fry family in memory of family members; by Mrs. John Gordon and her daughter, in memory of John W. Gordon; and by the Lockward sisters in memory of their father and mother. The MacMechan Panel, the extreme left-hand one above the transom, was dedicated on the 24th of July 1960, and was donated by the daughters of Mrs. MacMechan and their families.
A noted lawyer, Robert E. Harris, became the first Chancellor of the Diocese in May 1905. The Chancellor's Chair was made possible through a donation by Mrs. Clara P. MacIntosh, a sister of Chancellor R.V. Harris, nephew of his predecessor, in memory of Canon Vorhees Evan Harris and his brother Chancellor and Chief Justice Robert E. Harris.
In honour of the visit to Halifax by Michael Ramsay, Archbishop of Canterbury, there was a Festal Evensong at the cathedral. A newspaper report described Ramsay's entrance into the cathedral, “The trumpets sounded a fanfare, and 1600 men, women and children turned their heads to watch the entrance of Archbishop Ramsay resplendent in a cape of gold cloth edged in scarlet. He was followed by the Dean's procession to the chancel steps where a second fanfare sounded. Bishop W.W. Davis greeted him, escorted him to the bishop's chair in the sacrarium and a service of evensong began. Afterwards there was a reception in Worrell Hall.”
The original Cathedral organ was a gift of the Diocesan Women's Cathedral League. After fifty years of service, the instrument’s decaying mechanism and a rising musical standard made necessary a new organ for the scale of the cathedral. The rebuilding and restoration of the organ was carried out by Hill Norman & Beard, by appointment, organ builders to the Queen. Maitland Farmer, Cathedral Organist, drafted the tonal design with the assistance of Mr. R. Mark Fairhead, senior tonal designer for Hill Norman & Beard.
Fred Lane donated the children’s chapel as a memorial to his wife Abbie Lane. It was used for children's prayer services and provided a nursery for 52 children. Abbie Jacques and Fred Lane were married in the cathedral 31 May 1924. Abbie Jacques was an actress, a women's editor, radio commentator and a city councillor. Among her many accomplishments were those of acting in local productions such as Mary Gillan in the CBC's radio noontime program the Maritime Farm Family, The Gillans. During the Second World War she served as Women’s Editor for The Chronicle and became the first woman commentator on CJCH. She was first elected to City Council in 1951 and remained undefeated until her death in 1965. She was also served as President of the Diocesan Women's League.
Church of the Air was a regular radio program of worship presented by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. The cathedral service was conducted by Dean Edward Cochran and assisted by Priest Assistant R.E. Harris and was first broadcast on 17 April 1966.
After the Anglican Diocesan Centre opened in 1960 with a full gymnasium, the Cathedral organized Intermediate and Junior Basketball teams.
After much debate, the diocese approved the ordination of women. The ordination of Brenda Shipton by Bishop George Arnold took place in the cathedral on 29 June 1979.
The Service began with a fanfare for the arrival of Bishop George Arnold, attended by his Chancellor and Chaplains at the cathedral's door. A petition, signed by the incumbent, churchwardens, and others was read. On accepting the petition, Bishop Arnold said “Brethren, if this is your desire, and the desire of the parishioners, we will now proceed to the act of consecration.” Then Bishop Arnold, accompanied by his pastoral staff, knocked three times on the door, demanding “Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may go into them and give thanks to the Lord.” After proceeding to the sanctuary, he was presented with the necessary legal documents. After other formalities, Bishop Arnold passed the Sentence of Consecration.
After the construction of the new stone front, there was put in place an ongoing program of restoration and enrichment of the building's fabric. Among the several projects undertaken was the illumination in stained glass of the (ecclesiastical) west window, illustrating the story of Christ preaching to the multitude on the Sea of Galilee (see below). In addition, there had been a needlepoint project to embroider kneelers for the chancel and chapels as a visual expression of the linkage between the parishes of the diocese and the cathedral. At the 75th Anniversary service, the first completed kneelers were dedicated and blessed, along with the quilted banner, bearing references to the three congregations of St. Luke's Pro-Cathedral, St. Alban's and St. Stephen's that had been commissioned for the 75th anniversary.
The Bicentennial Cross was designed to mark the bicentennial of the first bishop, Charles Inglis. The cross was eight feet high and was constructed of Nova Scotia pine and included repurposed timber from All Saints’ Cathedral.
The Bicentennial Window, at the cathedral's ecclesiastical west end, portrays Jesus preaching from a fishing boat near the shore of the Sea of Galilee. One of its unique features is the combination of stained glass and clear glass. Christ is seen pointing to a Sower on a distant hillside. The Sower becomes the text for one of His most famous parables. As the Sea of Galilee extends to the horizon, natural skylight streams through the clear glass in the upper portions of the window. Standing in the transept or chancel, an outline of a high-rise apartment building can be seen above the horizon. The image symbolizes the mission of the cathedral to proclaim the gospel to the city, diocese and contemporary world. The window was the gift of many members and friends of the cathedral congregation. It was designed and crafted by Burton/Hrabi, a Prince Edward Island firm and was installed by Kidston Glass of Halifax.
The 434th Bomber Squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Force was formed in England in 1943 and disbanded at the end of the war. The squadron began again as the 434 Fighter Squadron in 1952 for service with NATO forces. In July 1977, 434 Squadron was presented with Her Majesty's Squadron Air Standard, known simply as the Squadron's Colours, commemorating 25 years of active service. In the 1980s, the squadron was stationed at Bagotville, Quebec and Chatham, New Brunswick before it ceased operational flying and relinquished its NATO role on June 1,1988. Many Maritimers served with the Squadron and its traditional nickname was the “Bluenose Squadron”. On its disbandment, the Squadron requested that the cathedral accept custody of the colours until the squadron was reactivated.
Nobel prize winner, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, was the preacher. Dean Austin Monroe was much involved in organizing the festival, attended by 10,000 Christians, and designed to bring together Christians of all denominations to help them learn to apply the festival's themes of loving God, neighbour, self and creation in their daily lives.