Rahul Sharma (Editor)

St. Joseph's Basilica, Edmonton

Updated on
Share on FacebookTweet on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Reddit
Country  Canada
Website  stjosephbasilica.com
Founded  1913
Province  Alberta
Capacity  1,200
Denomination  Roman Catholic Church
Former name(s)  St. Joseph's Cathedral
Opened  1963
Phone  +1 780-488-7295
Groundbreaking  1913
St. Joseph's Basilica, Edmonton
Location  10044 113 Street NW Edmonton, Alberta T5K 1N8
Address  10044 113 St NW, Edmonton, AB T5K 1N8, Canada
Archdiocese  Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton
Similar  Muttart Conservatory, Alberta Aviation Museum, Royal Alberta Museum, All Saints' Anglican Cathedral, Robertson‑Wesley United Church

St. Joseph's Cathedral Basilica is a minor basilica in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The basilica, located just west of the downtown core is the cathedral of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton and is one of the largest churches in Edmonton. It is the only basilica in Alberta.


Of architectural note are the 60 stained glass windows depicting scenes from the Old and the New Testaments and from the church's connection to St. Albert, the first diocese in Alberta.

Church history

The history of St. Joseph's began in 1913. At the time the city's main Franco-Albertan church, St. Joachim’s, was no longer able to cope with the booming population of English speaking parishioners. A large basement was excavated and concrete was poured. The new church would function as a crypt church from this time until the building was finally completed in 1963.

Construction of the church was halted until 1924 due to the Great War.

In 1917, St. Joseph's became a separate parish when the English speaking and French speaking parishioners at St. Joachim’s were given their own parishes. The French speakers remained at St. Joachim's. The English speakers moved to St. Joseph's.

Construction resumed in 1924, and Archbishop Henry O'Leary designated the unfinished St. Joseph's as the cathedral for the diocese.

Construction was again halted during the years of the Great Depression and the Second World War.

Planning for a new design began in 1954.

Construction of the church was finally completed and the building officially opened on May 1, 1963, the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker.

St. Joseph's Cathedral was named a minor basilica shortly before Pope John Paul II visited Edmonton in 1984. This was in part because of the papal visit and part in recognition of the missionaries and pioneers who came to the Edmonton area bringing about growth in people's faith.

Today, St. Joseph's Basilica is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton.

As the seat of the archdiocese, it is the church of the archbishop. Since its completion and dedication in 1963 it has seen the service and leadership of four archbishops including Archbishop Anthony Jordan, retired Archbishop Joseph MacNeil, Archbishop Thomas Collins, and presently, Archbishop Richard William Smith.


In its early years, the cathedral parish was an unofficial training ground for the Canadian hierarchy. Three former rectors and an associate pastor became bishops: Msgr. James McGuigan was named archbishop of Regina, later archbishop of Toronto and Canada's first English-speaking cardinal; Msgr. C.J. Nelligan became bishop of Pembroke, Ont.; Father Edward Jennings, auxiliary bishop of Vancouver, later of Fort William, Ont.; Msgr. Michael O'Neill, archbishop of Regina, and Father Emmett Doyle, bishop of Nelson.

St. Joseph, which seats 1,100 people, is one of the two minor basilicas in Western Canada—the other is in the St. Boniface Archdiocese in Winnipeg.

For almost three decades the basilica was known as the church without locks as it was open 24 hours. However, in the early 1980s, the church had to close at night. The number of people attending perpetual adoration declined while on the morning of Feb. 28, 1980 an arsonist set the altar and crucifix on fire, causing smoke and water damage to the whole building. To remove soot and smell, all the stones inside the church had to be scrubbed. Its prized possession, the Casavant Brothers organ, was sent to Quebec for cleaning and repairs. Cleanup and repair costs reached $250,000.

It also had its share of fame when parishioners shrugged off the controversy and international publicity surrounding the wedding of hockey superstar Wayne Gretzky to actress Janet Jones, both non-Catholics. About a hundred people objected to the ceremony being held at the basilica on July 16, 1988 but many more applauded the Church's openness.

Father Len Gartner took over as rector of the basilica in July 2001. The last time he served at St. Joseph's was in the mid-1960s when he was just one year fresh out of the seminary.

In 1917, St. Joseph's Parish came into being by a separation of the English and the French parishioners of St. Joachim.

Notable persons associated with St. Joseph's

  • Archbishop Henry O'Leary
  • Archbishop Anthony Jordan
  • Archbishop Joseph MacNeil
  • Archbishop Thomas Collins
  • Archbishop Richard William Smith
  • James McGuigan
  • C. J. Nelligan
  • Edward Jennings
  • Michael O'Neill
  • Father Emmett Doyle
  • References

    St. Joseph's Basilica, Edmonton Wikipedia