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Nova Scotia
Church Point

Nova Scotia
North America's Largest and Tallest Wooden Building

Not many Canadians know that St. Mary's Parish Church in the village of Church Point, between Yarmouth and Digby, is the largest and tallest wooden building in North America. Completed in 1905 after three years work, St. Mary's is built in the form of a cross 41 meters wide and 58 meters long, with a spire soaring 56 meters high. Church Point is fully exposed to the winds off St. Mary's Bay, so the steeple is ballasted with 36 tonnes of rock. The three huge bells, organ, and stained glass were imported from France.

St. Mary's Church is on the campus of Université Sainte-Anne, one of only two French-language universities in Atlantic Canada. Eudist priests from France founded the university in 1890, and it is a focal point of the Acadian cultural identity in Nova Scotia. The oldest Acadian festival, the Festival Acadièn de Clare, takes place at the university in July.

The highway from Yarmouth to Windsor running through Church Point is called the Évangéline Trail, and each summer the musical drama Évangéline is performed at the university in Acadian French, a reminder of the horrendous deportation these early Canadians suffered in 1755 at the hands of the British military. In 1847 Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote his epic poem Évangéline about a young girl and her lover separated during the expulsion. Their story has become an enduring symbol of the injustice of war, and the fortitude of a people who have survived to enrich Canadian life.

From the series Unknown Sights of Canada by David Stanley



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