St. Vital Roman Catholic Church

St. Vital Roman Catholic Church in Battleford, Saskatchewan is on the 2019 Top 10 Endangered Places List.

Published with permission from the National Trust for Canada

June 18, 2019

Location

Battleford, Saskatchewan

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.

This article is also available in French.

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Every year, the National Trust publishes its Top 10 Endangered Places List as part of its mission to raise awareness of the value that historic places bring to quality of life, local identity and cultural vitality.

The Top 10 Endangered Places List is compiled from nominations received as well as from reports and news items the National Trust has been following throughout the year. First published in 2005, the Top 10 Endangered Places List has become a powerful tool in the fight to make landmarks, not landfill.

The National Trust believes that historic places are cornerstones of identity, community and sense of place, yet every year, more are lost due to neglect, lack of funding, inappropriate development and weak legislation. By shining a spotlight on places at risk, the Top 10 Endangered Places List raises awareness about their plight and bolsters the efforts of local advocates working to save them.

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