It was standing-room-only for some at Christ Church Cathedral, Vancouver, as a celebration of the end of major building work November 17 drew nearly three times the number of people organizers expected.
"It went very, very, well--beyond our expectations, in terms of the number of people who came, the excitement," said Dean Peter Elliott. "Were thrilled."
Organizers had planned for 300 people to attend the event, marking the end of the latest phase of a 20-year repair and renovation project, Elliott said, but 850 showed up.
The event was to begin at 4:30 p.m., but the church's nave, which can hold 500-550 people, was already almost full by 4 p.m., reported Topic, the newspaper of the diocese of New Westminster. By the time the ceremony began, many were standing wherever they could find space.
Audrey Siegl, from the Musqueam First Nation, began the event by formally welcoming participants to traditional Musqueam territory. Siegl, Elliott said, told the gathering that it felt like Christmas morning in the church because of the sense of excitement and anticipation.
With a cost of $9 million ($1 million of which came from the B.C. government), the latest 18-month phase is one of the most important elements of the decades-long project, which has a total budget of $20 million. One of the main goals of the project, a "seismic upgrade" meant to make the building more resistant to earthquake damage, is now complete. But there were many other important elements of the work on the cathedral, a Vancouver landmark since 1894. The old shingle roof has now been replaced with a zinc one, and the kitchen was more than doubled in size, to allow the church to better serve about 100 homeless people it feeds every day, Elliott said.
The most recent phase also saw the construction of a new bell spire of stained glass, containing four bronze bells custom-cast in France--to the knowledge of church officials, the only stained-glass bell spire in the world, Elliott...