Cameron Fraser, the minister at Knox Metropolitan, loves to see the warm light dancing through the stained glass windows of the historic church. Damage caused by weather and the years, however, means the iconic windows need thousands of dollars in repairs.
Cameron Fraser has enjoyed an insider's view of the iconic, century-old stained glass windows at Knox Metropolitan United Church since being hired as its minister in 2014.
“When I'm there leading a service, I'm absolutely conscious of it,” Fraser said in an interview this week. “I find it even more so when I'm by myself.”
Fraser has been particularly struck by the ambient street light coming through the large arched windows when it's dark in the morning or in the evening.
“Those pieces are spectacular at that time with the quality of light that comes through,” he said.
The ravages of time and weather have taken a toll on the windows. In the 1970s and 1980s, their wooden frames were replaced with aluminum ones at a cost of $250,000.
“That was a lot of money in those days, even among the stained-glass community,” Fraser said.
Fast-forward to 2021 and the windows are once again in need of a helping hand. The sealant between the windows and the stonework has degraded, and that has created holes.
“This risks the integrity of the windows themselves and building is also vulnerable to moisture, which can cause all sorts of other issues,” Fraser said. “The work is to rehabilitate that and not make any actual changes.”
Addressing those issues has been estimated at $15,300 and Knox Metropolitan has applied to the City of Regina for a grant to fund some of the repairs. Under the Heritage Property Act, grants are available up to 50 per cent of the eligible costs to repair a heritage property. City council is expected to address the financial issue at its meeting on Jan. 27.
Fraser feels the repairs are a sound investment; the windows have been appraised at approximately $600,000 for insurance purposes.
“They are a pretty spectacular version of what they are on the Prairies,” Fraser said. “They have value for the church and the landscape of downtown Regina.”
The arch-shaped windows are so tied to the church on Victoria Avenue that Knox Metropolitan adopted parts of the design when producing its logo.
“We wanted something that the image itself would be recognizable even without the text there,” Fraser said. “We were quite pleased with what with the artist created. We hope that people can recognize it and associate it with the church.”
Built in 1906, Knox Metropolitan was nearly destroyed by what's been dubbed the Regina Cyclone, a deadly tornado that swept through the city in 1912 and levelled parts of the downtown and elsewhere. The church was rebuilt, including replacement of the stained glass windows. It was designated a municipal heritage property in 1986 in recognition of the building's location, its Gothic and Norman style of architecture and those spectacular windows.
“There is also the history behind Knox Met that is tied to a major traumatic event (the tornado) that happened in the city,” said Jackie Schmidt, president of Heritage Regina. “They turned it around and rebuilt their church. It's preservation is something bigger than that one building or those stained glass windows.
“Those stained-glass windows are a character-defining element of a big picture of economics and wealth within the city and how that translates into every single person within that city. When you take those things away, you don't have it any more.”
Fraser feels the windows at Knox Metropolitan stand out among the many examples of stained glass windows across the city and province.
“In terms of size and scope, they are definitely distinguishable,” Fraser said.
“They were specially designed to work with the prairie sun and its intensity. The folks who installed them would have put different colourings if it was in Toronto,” he said.
“The realities of the prairie wind, as the tornado proved, is definitely a consideration.”
They were specially designed to work with the prairie sun and its intensity. The folks who installed them would have put different colourings if it was in Toronto.