Replacement of cathedral’s 100-year-old roof ‘challenging’

St Andrew’s Cathedral, which has been in downtown Victoria since 1892, is in the final stages of a new roof.

It was a daunting project as the crews replaced aging slate tiles with sheet copper, defied dizzying heights and steep inclines, and solved difficult angles for the first roof replacement in the historic cathedral in more than a century.

“The project is more challenging than we imagined,” said Rod Parker, president of Parker Johnston, a roofing company in Victoria that has been in business for three generations since 1950.

“Even with 70 years of experience, a lack of historical comparison made it difficult to estimate and install,” said Parker. “We are very satisfied with the finished product and proud of the craftsmen who work with us and ultimately make these things possible.”

Chris Ryzuk, a retired geotechnician and parishioner for the Catholic Cathedral, said the new roof was worth about $ 500,000. It has been planned since 2011 and began in July after the community completed extensive studies of materials, costs, and various approvals.

Ryzuk expects the project to be completed by the end of the month.

It is only the second complete canopy project in the 128-year history of St. Andrew’s. The cathedral’s original roof was made of sheet metal and battens that lasted about 25 years. It was replaced by slate.

“The typical lifespan for replacing shale is around 100 years, so it lasts well,” said Ryzuk.

Roof surfaces were repaired and replaced at the cathedral in the mid-1980s, but a cheaper tile had to be used because the appropriate slate was not available at the time. The new copper sheets now fit the tower, which was clad in copper during repairs in the 1980s.

Since the cathedral has provincial and city heritage status, the use of copper had to be approved. The new roof is expected to last for more than 100 years.

“We had to ask how long the roof should last and how much the roof would cost compared to the long-term maintenance costs,” said Ryzuk. “The rector of the cathedral [Father John Lafzezyk] said 100 years. “

The pieces of slate have been carefully removed and lowered to the ground where they can be used by community members as souvenirs or gardening work, he said.

St. Andrew’s Cathedral was dedicated on October 30, 1892 by Bishop John Lemmens. It was designed by the Montreal church architects Maurice Perrault and Albert Mesnard based on double plans for a parish church in Vaudreuil, Que.

Ryzuk said the cathedral has seen steady improvements over the years, including repairs to the stained glass windows, a full switch to LED lighting inside, and the refurbishment of some faulty arches on the east facade and bell tower.

Ryzuk, who has worked on several large projects in the city, including dozens of churches, said many of the older buildings are in harsh condition “because most were built with volunteer work”.

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So you know

In the basement of the cathedral there is a crypt under the sanctuary. The bodies of Bishop Modeste Demers, the first Bishop of Victoria, are buried there. Archbishop Charles J. Seghers, Victoria’s second and fourth bishops murdered in Alaska; and Rt. Rev. John J. Jonckau, former vicar general of the diocese. Gravestones in honor of the men are on the southeast lawn next to the cathedral. – From the archives of St. Andrew

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