Sacred Heart Cathedral

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Francophones and the Catholic religion

Francophones were instrumental in establishing the Catholic religion in the Yukon. In 1900, Father Camille Lefebvre and Brother Augustin Dumas built the Whitehorse Sacred Heart church with the help of a number of French Canadians. The inscription in French at the base of the statue of Notre-Dame-du-Sacré-Cœur attests to their contribution. The church was replaced by the Cathedral in the early 1960s.

Photo: Sacred Heart Church, 1943
Photo credit: Yann Herry Collection


First white wedding

While waiting for the construction of the church to be completed, the community made do. Paul-Émile Mercier, son of the Quebec premier and an engineer on mission to the Yukon, married the daughter of his superior, Marie-Louise Taché, whom he met in Whitehorse. They celebrated their nuptials in a makeshift tent chapel in June 1901, a few weeks before the church was inaugurated. They were the first white couple to marry in the Yukon.

Photo: The tent chapel
Photo credit: Yann Herry Collection


Monsignor Coudert

Monsignor Jean-Louis-Antoine-Joseph Coudert proved to be a very important asset in developing Catholic services in Whitehorse and a highly effective recruiter. Born in France, at 19 he emigrated to the United States where he lived in Texas for 22 years before coming to the Yukon in 1936.

He became the first Roman Catholic bishop to reside in Whitehorse. During his 45 years of service in the north, he recruited many French and French-Canadian sisters, fathers and brothers who served communities throughout the Yukon until just recently. He later held a position at the Vatican in Rome until his death; his body was returned to Whitehorse where he was laid to rest.

Photo: Monsignor Coudert with sisters, Oblates of Marie Immaculate (OMIs) and children
Photo credit: Yann Herry Collection