The cathedral has above all an impressive façade, which had several times been amended after it was completed the first time. It consists of white granite, while the back part of the church is mainly built out of black, regional ironstone. Unfortunately, the original windows have been replaced by newer ones as the old ones were completely damaged during an explosion back in 1917. The steeple is 60,4m (66yd) high and therefore the highest church steeple in North America being entirely made of granite.
In 1950 the church was upgraded to a basilica minor by Pope Pius XII. Meanwhile, it has been listed as an important national historical site of Canada. The church is regularly used for holy Masses. Being a landmark of the city, it is also used for orientation purposes as it's visible from almost any part of the city.
Architecturally, St. Mary's Basilica belongs to the group of neo-Gothic churches and is located in the heart of Halifax. It was built in 1820 and is thus the oldest Romance Catholic church as well as the oldest stone church of Halifax. St. Mary's was built on the place where St. Peter's Church, a wooden church, once stood. Originally, the church was meant to carry the same name, but after four years it was renamed into St. Mary's. The former St. Peter's Church was then entirely dismantled and rebuilt in the neighbouring Dartmouth.
How to get there
The church is located adjacent to the Old Burying Ground in Spring Garden Road. One can therefore easily get here by car, but there is only a limited number of car parks available on-site. It is thus not recommendable to come here by car.
By public transport
Take one of the buses leading to the basilica. There are three stops in the vicinity of St. Mary's. You may get off at the stop “Spring Road before Barrington Street”, which is just in front the church. You then only need to cross the road and here you are at St. Mary's Basilica.