A Virtual Tour of St John's Cathedral

This tour is intended to give the reader a sense of the interior of the Cathedral. The walls are stuccoed and painted a pale yellow. A great deal of terra cotta trim is evident, especially around the windows. The high vaulted ceiling and roof trusses are brown. The nave and Sanctuary pews are a light oak colour. Some original pews, dark brown in colour, are located in the transepts. Other than the Sanctuary, with its beautiful rood screen, the most striking thing about the interior is the large number of stained glass windows.

This tour begins in the north transept and then goes around the Cathedral in a clockwise direction.

North Transept

In this transept are a painting of the original St. John's Church as it appeared when serving as the Cathedral hall in the 1950s, the architect's 1912 sketch of what the interior of the Cathedral was originally to look like, and the First World War memorial.

The architect's sketch shows the original brickwork and lighting that were replaced in the 1950s. Note that some of the pews are shown forward of the transepts where the nave altar is now. As a cost saving measure during construction the roof trusses were not encased in Georgia Pine as shown in the sketch, and the pipe organ shown was not installed.

The First World War Memorial on the elevator housing is not the only one in the Cathedral. The Casavant organ, and its predecessor, is/was a WW2 Memorial. Also, three of the stained glass windows: the Moore window (St Timothy 3e) and the Sterns windows (Elisha 13i, Elijah 14i) remember men who died in the First World War.

There are three windows in the transept. These are:

Lady Chapel

This chapel is used for midweek services and for those requesting special prayers during Sunday services. The outside door leads to the wheelchair ramp on the north side of the Cathedral. Note the red-shaded perpetual light and the curtained aumbry or tabernacle to hold consecrated hosts.

There are three windows. These are:


The predominant material seen in the Sanctuary is white Carrara ware which is Doulton's name for white terra cotta that resembles Italian Carrara marble. Carrara ware is used for the pulpit, rood screen, lectern, high altar and reredos.

The symbolism used throughout the Sanctuary includes lambs (Agnes Dei), angels, crosses, wheat and Saskatchewan lilies. The Greek letters on the pulpit and elsewhere are Chi Rho for XPLSTOS, the word for "Christ," Alpha and Omega for "the beginning and the end" and the letters IHS which are from the word IHSOUS for "Jesus." The rood screen connects the pulpit and lectern. "Rood" comes from the Latin word for "cross." The eagle on the lectern is the symbol of St. John the Evangelist, and was also the bird that supposedly flew closest to the sun and carried the gospel to the people.

Altar Apse

There are three windows in the Altar Apse:

Bishop's Chair & Crozier

The chair, located in the southeast corner of the Sanctuary, came from the former St. Alban's Cathedral in Toronto. "Cathedra" is the Latin word for chair. This chair is no longer used. When the Bishop attends services he sits in a smaller chair placed near the nave altar. The crozier is a stylised shepherd's crook, ornamented with wheat sheaves and Saskatchewan Lilies. The crozier used to be kept beside the Bishop's chair but is now located in front of the rood screen under the pulpit.

Organ & Piano

Originally a small reed organ was used. In 1931 a combined pipe organ and piano (previously used in a theatre) was donated. It was only used as a piano and the reed organ apparently continued to be used.

In 1956 a Hill, Norman and Beard organ made in England was purchased as a war memorial. It had three manuals and had been made for export in 1953. In 1981 it was sold to a United Church in Whitehorse Y.T. that later burned down.

The present two-manual organ was installed 1981-82 at a cost of over $120,000. Built by the famous Casavant firm in Québec, it has 31 stops and 43 ranks. It was first played at a concert of the Westminster Cathedral boys' choir from England.

The Kawai grand piano located in the south transept was a gift to the parish in 1988.


This room, under the steeple, is where the ropes for the tubular chimes may be seen. These are the 1907 chimes from the original church. The wall near the outside door is the same brick as the original interior of the Cathedral.

South Transept

A list of the Bishops of the Diocese and the arms of the Diocese are located in this transept.

Nave Relics - south side

The cross on the first pillar is a copy of one from Christ Church (Canterbury Cathedral) given in friendship in 1932. The original 8th Century cross was found during archaeolgical excavations. Copies of it were placed in Canterbury and other Anglican Cathedrals throughout the world. The "axe" ends remember the murder of St. Thomas à Becket in Canterbury Cathedral in 1170.

A stone finial from a buttress of Exeter Cathedral, dislodged during a 1942 air raid, is on the second pillar.

South Nave Windows New Testament figures

South Clerestory Windows (Old Testament figures)

West Nave Windows

Baptismal Font

The font is located near the main doors to symbolize baptism as the means of entering the Church. When the font's top goes up the dove comes down.

North Nave Windows (mostly New Testament figures)

North Clerestory Windows (Old Testament Figures)

Nave Relics - north side

The stone on the first pillar is from Glastonbury Abbey, Somerset England. This was the first Christian establishment in England.

A stone floret from Exeter College, Oxford, is mounted on the second pillar. This floret given as a gift from the Chaplain of Exeter College as a symbol of the relationship between Exeter and the Province of Saskatchewan.

Columbarium Windows

The central theme of these windows is the "Good Shepherd." Christ is represented by the shepherd's crook, with the lambs of his flock. Vines, emerging from the base of the crook, bind the three windows together. "I am the vine, you are the branches" (John 15:5). A dove represents the human soul. The Greek letters Alpha (in gold in the centre window) and Omega (in wine coloured glass across the three windows) are shown as in "I am the first and the last" (Revelations 1:3). These windows were made by Glass Eye Studios in Saskatoon.

Further Reading

Anderson, Robert, Stained Glass Windows St. John's Cathedral, 1995.

Pirie, Cyril H., The Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, 1978.

Saint John's Cathedral, Self-Guided Tour, n.d.

Significant Dates and Events in the History of St. John's, n.d.

John Duerkop, 13 August, 2001
Updated: Jonathan Moore-Wright, 29 July, 2011