Places of Worship resources

Canadian Churches: An architectural history, by Peter Richardson and Douglas Richardson, with photographs by John de Visser

Photo: Canadian Churches: An architectural history, by Peter Richardson and Douglas Richardson, with photographs by John de Visser


Ontario Heritage Trust

Buildings and architecture

Published Date: Sep 10, 2009


Churches: Explore the symbols, learn the language and discover the history, by Timothy Brittain-Catlin

Collins Press. Churches and cathedrals, intentionally imposing and dignified, contain a wealth of fascinating architectural detail and symbols to interpret. They reflect a magnificent vista of history across the centuries, and are an important part of our cultural heritage.

Churches is a practical, explanatory guide as well as a superbly illustrated book with an enchanting narrative. It explains everything from how to interpret specific religious features to explaining the church layout, and from looking at the church in context of local history, to the different styles of church architecture.

Become fluent in the language of churches and appreciate their beauty and variety in a new way. Understanding the symbols within churches and cathedrals is like learning a new language; translating the meaning and purpose of features within these spectacular buildings is an important, and enlightening, part of visiting a church.

Quel avenir pour quelles églises? What future for which churches? under the direction of Lucie K. Morisset, Luc Noppen and Thomas Coomans

Presses de l’Université du Québec. Throughout the Western world, many churches of all religious traditions are closing their doors due to a lack of worshippers and officiants. These mainstays of our cities and towns and chroniclers of our memories are in danger of disappearing in the somewhat near future. Heritage continues to crumble, with nearly 2,000 churches closed in England, billions of unused or lost land assets in the United States, and more than 600 churches demolished in the Netherlands. Tens of thousands of churches in Scandinavia, Germany, Belgium and France are also clamouring for our attention, while their Quebec counterparts have faced steadily declining parishioners’ interest for the past several years.

Forty-odd North American and European specialists share their experiences and make suggestions regarding the future and ownership of these noble buildings, as well as their purpose and use. They also describe the challenges of urban planning and managing such buildings, and explore new approaches that will help churches survive by redefining their purpose and status within the community. In the end, the issue is one of understanding how churches can again become the heritage of the entire community.

Canadian Churches: An architectural history, by Peter Richardson and Douglas Richardson, with photographs by John de Visser

Firefly Books. This book is the first definitive guide to more than 250 of the most beautiful and significant churches across the country. Encompassing many styles and many denominations, Canadian Churches tells the story of settlers with Old World traditions arriving in a New World landscape, and how these traditions evolved over time as the country moved west.

Canadian Churches provides a detailed view of our spiritual, ethnic and architectural heritage by providing a history for each church, including the construction, subsequent alterations or additions, the early congregation and any architectural details considered to be unique and noteworthy.

Illustrated throughout with specially commissioned photographs, artwork, drawings and illustrations, this book is a must for anyone interested in history, architecture and religion.

Web resources


Religious Heritage Restoration Programme

Outlines the forms of financial assistance and support available to religious heritage restoration projects in Quebec through the Conseil du patrimoine religieux du Québec and the Ministère de la Culture, des Communications et de la Condition feminine.

Prairie Churches Project

A 2003 project of the Thomas Sill Foundation in Manitoba where significant historic rural churches were identified and preserved with technical assistance from the provincial Historic Resources Branch.

United States

Partners for Sacred Places

Based in Philadelphia, this website provides information and guidance to congregations and communities to sustain and use historic sacred places.

United Kingdom

The Churches Conservation Trust

Provides an overview of the Churches Conservation Trust, which cares for Anglican churches in the United Kingdom no longer being used as places of worship.

Historic Chapels Trust

A non-profit advocacy group that purchases and restores historic places of worship not owned or protected by the Churches Conservation Trust.