Review: A Visual Tour of Christ’s Church Cathedral, Hamilton, Ontario by Alexander (Sandy) L. Darling
One of the many drawbacks of the pandemic has been the inability to step inside Christ’s Church Cathedral and take in the sights and sounds of a building teeming with history. When physical church gatherings were cautiously restricted early in the pandemic, however, Sandy Darling had an idea: if congregants and visitors “could not come to the cathedral, I could bring the cathedral to them.”
And so, having taken photographs of the intricate details of the cathedral over the course of many years, Darling has now produced not merely a visual tour for all interested readers, but a wonderful guidebook for reflection on the great story of Scripture told through Christian liturgical year. Echoed by Bishop Susan Bell in the booklet’s foreword, “this is a tour based on love: love of a jewel box of a cathedral, love of the cloud of witnesses that has built this community of faith over time, and love of the Gospel of Jesus Christ which continues to inspire us each day.”
The booklet is organized as much by the actual physical spaces of the cathedral as the themes of the Christian year. Sandy’s initial plan “was to take a virtual tour after entering through the main doors by proceeding in a counter-clockwise direction with a focus on windows.” This soon blossomed into telling the story of a plethora of other features of the architecture and the cathedral’s spiritual life, including the cathedral ceiling, the altar carvings, the rhythm of movement during Palm Sunday, the stone reredos, and the intricately carved cathedra and pulpit, to name but a few.
The tour begins in the most apt of locations: Bishopsgate Garden during Eastertide, with a secondary focus on the carved figures on the exterior of the building designed by William Thomas. Before concluding with a postscript about the history of the cathedral’s many stained-glass windows, Darling leaves us to liturgically ponder the season of Pentecost with fiery sunlit glass and red, orange, and yellow balloons. It is a striking call to those who enter the cathedral—whether through the front doors, or through this lovely booklet—to go forth empowered by the Holy Spirit.
This booklet is small in size, but significant in its contribution to the history and life of the diocese. Whether or not you might find yourself stepping foot inside the large, wooden doors off James Street North, Darling’s guidebook is one worth keeping at your side.
To order a copy of this book, email [email protected]. Copies are $12.00 if received in person, or $17.50 if you request shipping. Payment can be made via cash, cheque (made out to Christ’s Church Cathedral), or e-transfer to the email above.