Architectural sounds

Historic St. Mary’s reopens to the public

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The 2020 Indian River Festival may have been cancelled but that doesn’t mean Islanders won’t be able to experience the architectural wonder of Historic St. Mary’s this summer.

Visitors are free to drop in anytime during opening hours to safely tour the venue and learn about its colourful history. Hear the story of the church that was made for music—how it was designed to resemble the interior of a violin, how it slowly fell into disrepair and how it was eventually saved by a dedicated group of music lovers.

St. Mary’s was constructed in 1900 by architect William Critchlow Harris and designated an official Canadian Heritage site in 2012 in recognition of its cultural and historical significance to PEI. An amateur musician, Harris was concerned with the acoustic capabilities of the new church he was designing. His idea that would combine his love of music and architecture, as well as revolutionize venue acoustics to this day: what if the inside of a church could operate like the inside of a musical instrument? In other words, Harris hatched a plan to manipulate the materials and space in his church design in a way that would provide spectacular acoustic effects with a minimum amount of echo.

Those who have yet to hear a performance at Historic St. Mary’s are in luck this summer. They’ll be playing music on their custom, state-of-the-art sound system for visitors to experience the venue’s acoustics.

Historic St. Mary’s is open Tuesdays and Thursdays, 1–4 pm, to August 27. Hours are subject to change. Info: 836-4933,,

Historic St. Mary'sIndian River Festival