Thorneloe University has the only free-standing chapel on the Laurentian campus. Built in 1968 as memorial to George Parker Fielding and Agnes Ceasar Fielding, the chapel comprises a series of progressively larger triangular walls forming a rising spirit that culminates over the altar. The quiet interior is adorned with several unique icons, all created by Canadian iconologist Michael O’Brien of Ottawa.
From September to April, the chapel provides a worship service in the Anglican tradition on Thursdays at Noon. The chapel is also used for weddings, baptisms, and memorials for faculty, staff, and students of Laurentian University. People of all faiths are welcome to use this quiet, holy space.
The chapel underwent extensive renovations during the summer of 2011, to improve accessibility and to enhance its use as a learning space. The Chapel was officially reopened on Wednesday, October 12, 2011 by the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, former Governor General of Canada.
In 1965, the Algoma Diocesan Synod (Anglican) identified the need for a proper Chapel on the campus of the newly established Thorneloe University. It was believed that a Chapel would“provide a tangible and imposing witness to our belief that the life of our University and the life of each Thorneloe student ought to be centred on the worship of God.”
The Chapel was built in 1968 as the result of a generous gift of the Fielding family in memory of George Parker Fielding and Agnes Fielding, and was consecrated that same year by Archbishop William L. Wright, and dedicated in the name of St. Mark. The Chapel comprises a series of progressively larger triangular walls forming a rising spirit that culminates over the altar. The quiet interior is adorned with several unique icons, all created by Canadian iconographer Michael O’Brien of Ottawa. The Chapel’s design won an architectural award for the firm of Townend, Stefura, Baleshta & Pfister (now Yallowega Bélanger). A local firm, Neil Smith Construction, Ltd., was awarded the building contract and Mr. Smith donated an attractive sign on site. The distinctive roof profile posed a challenge to roofers to cover properly until a technologically advanced membrane was installed in 1996.
As constructed in 1968, the entrance to the Chapel posed a significant barrier to people with disabilities. A number of campus and church groups who had expressed a desire to use this facility had been prevented from doing so because of its inaccessibility. In addition, the Chapel needed a “face-lift” of sorts befitting its age, thus making it an inviting space for worship services, university classes and daylong retreats.
But with the generous financial assistance of the Fielding family, the Anglican Foundation of Canada and other donors, we now have a new barrier-free entrance at grade and a 400-square foot addition that includes a barrier-free washroom, kitchenette and storage facilities. This incorporates the installation of a plumbing system since the Chapel did not have running water when originally built in 1968. These renovations, designed by Castellan James + Partners and built by SRS Contracting, include an upgrading of the electrical system, internet access, new flooring and lighting, as well as new windows. As a result, the Chapel is a much more flexible, functional and accessible space, to be used by church and campus groups alike.
As before, people of all faiths will be welcome to use this quiet holy space. Regular weekly worship services are held during the academic terms. Other services are held occasionally to celebrate special days in the Church year. The Chapel is also used for weddings, baptisms, and memorials for faculty, staff, and students of Laurentian University. And with the growing interest in using the Chapel from outside groups for the purposes of worship, education and retreats, these renovations will make the Chapel more accessible to these groups, as well as for Thorneloe University classes.
The Chaplain of Thorneloe University is the President and Provost, the Rev. Dr. Robert Derrenbacker. Thorneloe also employs an Assistant Chaplain, the Rev. Dr. Spencer Boersma, who is responsible for organizing the weekly worship schedule, and is available to students, residents and staff during office hours.