When this little Gothic “chapel of ease” was erected in 1887, it stood outside the city of Ottawa in a settlement known as Janeville, and was surrounded by peaceful country fields and woods. Today, it is one of Vanier’s oldest buildings. Built of grey limestone, it has a semi-circular apse and an old-English-style bell tower.
Limestone from the Robillard quarries was donated by a Roman Catholic and brought to the site by a Baptist. Construction began, and on Thursday 13 October 1887, when the walls had risen to a height of four or five feet, a service was held and the ceremony for the laying of the cornerstone was performed by Lady Macdonald, wife of Canada’s first Prime Minister, who was also a member of St. Alban’s congregation.
Construction being completed in the spring of 1888, the little church was dedicated on 29 April of that year with Archdeacon (later Dean) John Strutt Lauder of Christ Church Cathedral officiating. Only two years after its completion, the church was fully furnished and free of debt, and on 19 October 1890 the service of Consecration was held with the Rt. Rev’d. John Travers Lewis, Bishop of Ontario (in which diocese Ottawa then was) officiating.
Flanking the font stand two tall five branch candelabra given in memory of Jane Olmsted, one of the first parishioners. Among the memorials is a plaque in memory of Archibald Lampman who worshipped here and whose nature poetry was inspired by his walks in the surrounding countryside.
Above the Altar, a painting by J.W.H. Watts depicts Christ seated with St. Margaret and her daughter St. Lucy on either side. Mr. Watts, an early member of the Royal Canadian Academy, also designed and painted the twelve panels in the Sanctuary ceiling depicting the symbols of the Apostles.
Beneath these panels, around the wall, is painted this inscription: “HOLY, HOLY, HOLY, LORD GOD OF HOSTS, WHICH WAS AND IS, AND IS TO COME.” The words above the Altar painting read: “I AM THE BREAD OF LIFE.”
The parish hall, on which construction began in 1910, is built of the same grey limestone as the church. Among the first subscribers to the building fund were Prime Minister Sir Robert and Lady Borden.