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St. Bart’s capital campaign to restore war memorial and improve hall

The East Memorial Window, known as the Geddes “Ottawa” Window at St. Bartholomew’s Church in New Edinburgh.
The East Memorial Window, known as the Geddes “Ottawa” Window at St. Bartholomew’s Church in New Edinburgh.
By on December 1, 2021
Photography: 
Brian Glenn

Did you know that an internationally recognized work of memorial art is at St Bartholomew’s?

The Anglican Church of St. Bartholomew at 125 MacKay St. was founded in 1867 and has a long established relationship with Rideau Hall, the residence of the Governor General of Canada. The front pew is reserved for the Governor General and family and the colours of the Governor General’s Foot Guards are laid up there in what has come to be known as “The Guard’s Chapel.” The coats of arms of the Governors General are fixed high along both sides of the church. The large stained glass East Window in St Bartholomew’s was commissioned in 1917 by the Duke of Connaught, Canada’s 10th Governor-General, to commemorate the members of his personal staff who died on the battlefields of Belgium and France in the First World War.  Several were in the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI).

Titled “The Welcoming of a Slain Warrior by Soldier Saints, Champions and Angels,” the window was designed and made by the Irish stained glass artist, Wilhelmina Geddes (1887-1955), a member of Dublin’s collective stained glass studio, An Tur Gloine.  Geddes worked within the conventions of the Irish Arts and Crafts movement, where every work of art is the creation of a single artist. Geddes’s only commission in North America, the window is now recognised internationally as an exceptional work of memorial art. Themes are drawn from the Arthurian legends, depictions of grieving women, the battle in heaven, and images include the crucifixion and the resurrection. It is known in art circles as the Geddes “Ottawa” Window. “Nowhere in modern glass is there a more striking example of a courageous adventure in the medium.” (C. J. Connich, International Studio, 1924)

This impressive memorial work helped establish Geddes’s considerable reputation as an artist in stained glass. It is the only work of hers to be found outside Britain and continental Europe. After showings in Dublin and London, the window was unveiled at St. Bart’s by Edward, Prince of Wales, at a dedication service on Nov. 9, 1919 while he was in Ottawa to lay the stone of the rebuilt Parliament Buildings. It is now more than 100 years old and has been a popular draw with many visitors during the annual Doors Open Ottawa.

 The Parish of St. Bart’s is fortunate to have this window and is committed to ensure its restoration and continued preservation. Along with other stained glass in the church, this window requires major restoration by expert restorers to ensure it is there for future generations.  Accordingly, the Parish has launched a major capital campaign to raise $250,000 for the expert restoration of the window and additional funds for improvements to the link and parish hall, including upgrades for air quality.

 The portion of the campaign in support of the Geddes “Ottawa” Window has received the gracious support of the Rt. Hon. David Johnston, a former parishioner at St. Bart’s. In addition to launching this capital campaign, the parish is researching and preparing a bilingual documentary to make the history and artistic importance of this stained glass memorial better known in Canada and internationally. 

The restoration work is planned for the summer of 2022. See the memorial window on the visual tour on the website www.stbartsottawa.ca Anyone wishing more information or to support this campaign please contact the church office at 613 745 7834 or [email protected] or visit the church website.

Photo captions:

 (photo Brian Glenn).

 

The black and white image is of Wilhelmina Margaret Geddes preparing the Te Deum window for Ypres Cathedral. (photo credit Belfast Telegraph)

 

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