St Peter’s Launches Redevelopment Project

St Peter’s Anglican Church was designed in 1851 by famed architect Kivas Tully and then built in 1854 – complete with steeple.  Many years later it now has a bell tower instead of a steeple and has had many additions but the main building is badly in need of a new roof, ceiling and other repairs – total estimated cost is $3M.  The state of the roof is bad enough that the Church itself has been closed since February 2018 with services held in the Parish Hall. The congregation wants to “re-align itself to meet the needs of the local community” although that’s not a new idea. I know that in 2018, Les Amis concerts planned to have concerts there. The nearby Trinity United Church has been a venue for multiple concerts and other events for some years and the move by the Anglican Church is welcome.  But first they need to find the money to pay for the necessary repairs.

St. Peter's
St. Peter’s

Although the Church is a place of worship and the size of most congregations (including Anglicans) is dropping across Canada, the church has two other attributes:

  • It’s a part of Cobourg’s heritage with great architecture
  • The members of the Church already provide community services and the church would provide a magnificent event venue.

In looking for funds, the congregation says this:

As an Anglican congregation, we recognize that our church is changing and needs to re-align itself to meet the needs of the local community.  We have a beautiful building which remains empty for six and a half days of the week, and we have local community organizations such as Habitat for Humanity Northumberland and several social service agencies which have identified the need to come together to provide services in one central location.

With our large Parish Hall, we already provide space for a thriving Seniors’ club, as well as AA meetings, Boy Scouts, a pre-school for 40 children, and community groups for disadvantaged people. Volunteers prepare meals in our commercial kitchen, providing approximately eighty low-income and homeless people with a nutritious home-made dinner every Thursday night, as well as lunch twice a week.

….. As a congregation, we recognize the need to revitalize and repurpose our buildings so that identified sectors of our community (e.g. seniors, youth, marginalized groups) may find a space that meets their own spiritual and physical needs.

Work required and estimated costs

  • Replace or Repair – $1.8M
    • Roof
    • Purlins
    • Ceiling
  • Bell Tower Brick work – $200K
  • Interior upgrades – $1M
    • Improve Insulation & add air-condtioning
    • Upgrade Electrical and IT
    • Upgrade flooring
  • Studies on the above – $200K (already spent)

In their information package, the Church says:

The three million dollars noted above would complete all the work, including legal work on the boundaries of the various components of the property.  A Project Manager will be hired to oversee the entire project which could generate 25 to 30 or more person years of employment to augment economic growth post Covid-19.

Sources of Funds

  • A grant from the National Trust for $2M – application submitted but approval pending.
  • St. Peter’s estimates it could raise $1,000,000
    • Investments $300,000
    • The Diocese of Toronto $300,000
    • Local and congregational fund-raising $400,000

The National Trust has asked the Federal Government for $200M for shovel ready heritage projects as part of Covid-19 recovery – the $2M would come from that.  Money for this specific program has not yet been announced although about $500M for “Cultural, Heritage and Sport Organizations” has been provided.

Current Status

We are currently in the process of updating our building condition report, and working with consultants on plans to make St. Peter’s sustainable with our community partners and to achieve long-term financial stability.

St. Peter’s Church is truly a national treasure:  from hosting Royalty and Canadian Victoria Cross winners, and being the garrison church of the Royal Marines of Canada, to serving nearly one hundred home-cooked meals every Thursday night during a pandemic. We are strong in our faith and in our future. 

The Church’s property also includes affordable Housing units, a “dilapidated rectory” and a small cemetery. It will certainly be interesting to see if the grant will be provided.

Here are some more photos of the Church.


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Paradise lost....
3 years ago

This dilemma our historic Church faces is playing out in communities across the country. The National Trust reported that 9,000 of the 27,000 places of Faith & Worship are threatened with similar challenges. Obviously–not all of the 9,000 can get public funding. The renovation and re-purposing projects that succeed usually involve private money or a corporate savior. Those seem to be in short supply in our town. Maybe for once, we will be lucky that it will take over a decade for our Council to ever approve of either a demolition plan or a renovation plan and we can enjoy the property into the 2030’s..?

3 years ago

Arguably the most beautiful church in Cobourg and likely Northumberland County. I certainly hope they are approved for funding.

Reply to  Rob
3 years ago

I hope that congregation funds it .

Reply to  Sandpiper
3 years ago

It will be a blend of private and public – if there is $500m in Federal money already allocated, it will be spent one way or another.

3 years ago

Any one know the size of the actual weekly Congregation,?? Not many from what I see on Sunday and If its keeping pace with the rest of Canada’s
diminishing and ageing church congregations may be its time to sell and repurpose the property
and grounds to something profitable may be it could be all seniors apartments and housing ‘
It will certainly bring enough to relocate and build a new green energy efficient building with a
on site rectory apartment Not to mention a place with much needed parking .

judith goulin
3 years ago

Glad that you featured the Jex windows at St.Peter’s in your article.. Leroy [Roy] Jex was a builder of renown in Cobourg.

3 years ago

A ‘dilapidated rectory’? Maybe the church needs to think about selling the ‘rectory’ and finding another place (rental) for the minister and his/her family? Is the rectory presently being used?
If I’m not mistaken, in the past, a lot of churches have gone this route, in order to appreciate funds to help with the up-keep of the church building itself? Maybe it’s too awkward to ‘sever’ the property and sell off rectory?
Just sharing my thoughts.

Reply to  Ken
3 years ago

Based on what I have heard the rectory belongs to the diocese rather than the parish. And the diocese said no. Bear in mind that the rectory was built as a bishop’s ‘palace’ when it was thought that Cobourg might be the capital of at least Upper Canada. Perhaps a more modest rectory would be more appropriate these days. Look at the number of Old Rectory private homes there are in the UK these days. Rectories long since sold off.

3 years ago

The real question in the future could be: Do the taxpayers of Cobourg in some way want to take on the responsibility of another Victoria Hall? Do it for one church and you are on the future hook for all the others I would hazard a guess.

Reply to  cornbread
3 years ago

I don’t see anything in this article that suggests Cobourg taxpayers are being asked to take it on in any other way than as people contributing to a fundraising appeal. Excellent news that the church has decided on a course of action.

Canuck Patriot
Reply to  GailR
3 years ago

I agree this is welcome news but isn’t the $2 Million National Grant a combination of federal and provincial tax dollars?

howard goodfellow
Reply to  Canuck Patriot
3 years ago

Yes. Both federal and provincial funds

Reply to  GailR
3 years ago

My comment and question is a shot across the bow of ou r Town Council and their CIP grants.

Reply to  GailR
3 years ago

Recently the wardens voted to give my property clear titles : a vicious flaw from an old survey forks outside their parking lot and divides my backyard. But the small congregation voted against it and decided to gaslight me (Trump terminology). They turned down a sale of $5,000.00 a 3×4 square feet of their unused space I trespass on to access my backyard. I wish they would grant me the right to use it legally, (turtles are using crosswalks ! ) , after 10 years of asking *. We use the same surveyors IBW. My devaluation brakes up my family wealth and challenges the point of resale to a serious buyer. I cannot downsize, my family will have to fight the same problem… one of them is a Gp/ surgeon and could possibly find employment at our hospital.
(St. Luc parable 18 1-8 The persistent widow and the unjust King)

Last edited 3 years ago by Johanne
Leona Woods
Reply to  cornbread
3 years ago

To the best of my knowledge Cobourg taxpayers are not being asked for money. Nor will the coommunity take on responsibiity for the church. The congregation will do this.

3 years ago

“…Marie Dressler claimed to have been born in 1869 and 1870; her death certificate listed 1871. But the records of St Peter’s Anglican Church in Cobourg show that she was born in the small lakeside community on November 9, 1868, and baptized on June 27 the following year…”
— Betty Lee
Marie Dressler The Unlikeliest Star [1997]