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Religious architecture: new questions / new approaches II

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Regular session
11:00 AM, Thursday 26 May 2022 (1 hour 30 minutes)
Lunch and presentation of the Martin Eli Weil prize   12:30 PM to 02:30 PM (2 hours)

Over the past twenty or so years, the architecture of churches in Quebec and across Canada has triggered new and increasingly pressing questions: how should we approach their conservation, use, or meaning in a context where religious practice is in sharp decline, where the economic situation of parishes is prompting hasty decisions, and where radical versions of secularism are being imposed in the public space? These new questions call for different ways of thinking about the historic value of these buildings today, and it is the goal of this session to share these new ways of seeing.  For example, in what ways did church building influence transformations in architectural practice in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries? Who were the designers (architects and non-architects), artists, and entrepreneurs for whom the construction of religious buildings was the springboard to an important career? How does the study of religious architecture allow us to better understand the formation of cultural identities in a context of modernization and rapid urbanization of a traditional society? How can we document the reception of these churches by the public for which they were originally intended? How are these churches perceived today, by a public that has abandoned religious practice? How is the restoration of a church to be conceived when its original function is no longer sufficient to ensure its maintenance and survival? 
All these questions and many others emerge from a context where the news media remind us of the fragility of the fate of churches, whether to reveal an upcoming demolition, denounce acts of vandalism or, on the contrary, highlight the success of a transformation project. It is important to share and pool these new ways of seeing, and researchers whose work contributes in one way or another to the renewal of research perspectives on churches are invited to submit a proposal.

Sub Sessions

11:00 AM - 11:20 AM | 20 minutes

Canada is home to the fourth largest Jewish community in the world, with one of its two centres being Toronto. Toronto’s first Jews originally settled in what is currently known as Kensington Market, and as the years progressed and more opportunities became available, the Jews migrated to suburbia. Today, you can see Bathurst St. and its arterial roads lined with Jewish shops, restaurants, bakeries, and synagogues. Although few, most papers that exist usually discuss pre-World War II synag...

Coby Lyons

11:30 AM - 11:50 AM | 20 minutes

Modernizing a religious monument that is more than 100 years old is a complex issue that invariably raises uncomfortable questions. Renovations and restorations of church buildings are an opportunity to reveal what has been hidden beneath years of accumulated layers. In 2003, Christ Church Cathedral in Vancouver performed a $9.7 million renovation and restoration, one of the most ambitious projects of its kind in Canada for a religious monument. ...

12:00 PM - 12:20 PM | 20 minutes

Many aspects of the transmission of designs from British and Irish sources to what is now Canada are well understood. Architects like Frank Wills (1822-57), William Hay (1822-88) and Joseph Connolly (1840-1904) brought their expertise with them when they settled in the New World. Yet, work remains to be done on the nature of ongoing connections with the architecture of the old countries. This paper examines novel elements in the ‘Roman Renaissanc...

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