Dating back to 1749, St. Paul’s Anglican Church is the oldest building in Halifax and the oldest standing Protestant church in Canada. As a National Historic Site of Canada, the church is noteworthy for its stained glass windows, pipe organ, subterranean crypt, and adjacent cemetery.
The main building’s interior features lovely stained glass windows including one that dates back to 1872, a 1908 pipe organ, original pine and oak support beams imported from Maine in the 1700s, and a historical Royal Pew that has seated Queen Elizabeth II herself. You can also view the church crypt, which is the final resting place for prominent Nova Scotians, and the adjacent St. Paul’s Church Cemetery, where more than 12,000 people have been buried since Halifax was founded.
While you can explore St. Paul’s independently, walking tours of Downtown Halifax and amphibious-vehicle Harbour Hopper tours offer further context and little-known facts about the church’s and its rich history.
Things to Know Before You Go
- St. Paul’s is a must for history and architecture buffs.
- You can visit the church at a leisurely pace in under an hour.
- While guided tours are not regularly scheduled, contact the administration in advance (well in advance November through May) for a free guided tour.
- Take a virtual tour via the Tour St. Paul’s tab on the church’s website.
- The church is accessible to wheelchair users.
How to Get There
St. Paul’s sits on Argyle Street at the south end of the Grand Parade, a historical park and walkway in Halifax. The nearest transit stops are Barrington Street Before Prince Street on buses 1, 9, 10, 14, 61, and 80. If driving, there is free on-site parking.
When to Get There
Services take place at 10am Sunday, 11am Wednesday, and 9am Friday. The church is open to the public daily for self-guided tours and quiet reflection year-round. Special concerts and exhibitions take place throughout the year—check the St. Paul’s website for a full calendar of events.
The Halifax Explosion
In 1917 a munitions ship exploded off the coast of Halifax and obliterated almost the entire town. While St. Paul’s remained standing, its windows were blown out by the sheer force of the blast. After the explosion, the profile of a man’s face mysteriously appeared in one of the facade’s windows. Despite rigorous attempts to clean it, the profile remains. Look for the face yourself when you visit St. Paul’s.