Starting the week of July 27, visitors are free to drop-in anytime during opening hours to safely tour the venue and learn about its colourful history. You’ll 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.
“Here at Indian River Festival, we’re all about creating memories,” says IRF’s executive director, Kate-Gracey Stewart. “While the festival may be cancelled, that doesn’t mean visitors can’t enjoy the magic of St. Mary’s. We encourage Islanders to get out and explore their own backyard—when they look back at Summer 2020, we hope that visiting St. Mary’s will be one of their stand-out memories.”
Designated an official Canadian Heritage site in 2012 in recognition of its cultural and historical significance to Prince Edward Island, St. Mary’s was constructed in 1900 by architect William Critchlow Harris. An amateur musician, Harris was intimately concerned with the acoustic capabilities of this new church he was designing. He soon dreamt up an 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.
If you’ve never been fortunate enough to attend a concert at Historic St. Mary’s, you’re in luck: we’ll be playing music on our custom, state-of-the-art sound system graciously funded by the Confederation Bridge so you can experience the venue’s iconic acoustics for yourself. Even if history isn’t your thing, dropping by just to hear the church that was made for music is worth the drive!
Indian River Festival is committed to keeping our visitors safe. Social distancing measures and safety protocols are in place at the venue. You can find full details in our Operational Plan here. If you are feeling unwell, please stay home and stay safe. Non-medical face masks are highly recommended. Please maintain a 2-metre (six-foot) distance from other patrons while in Historic St. Mary’s. For tracing purposes, we’ll be collecting contact information from one person in each party. Depending on when you arrive and the amount of people in the venue, you may need to wait before entering.
Hours of Operation: Tuesday’s and Thursday’s from 1 pm to 4 pm from July 28 to August 27. Hours are subject to change. Feel free to contact us at [email protected] or 1-902-836-4933.