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Indian River Festival
St. Mary's Church, a stunning example of the French Gothic influence, was built in 1902. The architect was William Critchlow Harris and in addition to his professional renown, he was a dedicated amateur musician and as a result, he came to think of the interior of his churches as musical instruments on a grand scale. The Harris trademark is the rib-vaulted ceiling created with pine, birch, maple, fir, and spruce that creates a resonance that shares a kinship with a violin. The chancel floor was supported by a single juniper post that replicates the sound post in a stringed instrument. With a seating capacity of 500, it is one of the largest wooden churches on PEI and the sanctuary remains untouched by a renovator's hand. Artists of all genres and audience alike are overwhelmed by the beauty of the sound and the sanctuary and it remains the acoustical treasure that Harris envisioned.

In the 1970's and 80's St. Mary's was in a terrible state of disrepair and was under serious threat of demolishment. Thanks to the efforts of an entire community the "Save St. Mary's" campaign was started and as part of those efforts a small concert series called "Sundays in the Summer" was launched. These concerts proved so successful and paired with the commitment from businesses, individuals and parish, the repairs were completed and paid for within three years. The concert series continued however and in 1996 The Indian River Festival was incorporated as a not-for-profit body that has continually maintained a two-part mandate to continue the ongoing repairs to St. Mary's and to offer stellar performances in a relaxed summer setting creating an experience that is truly out of the ordinary.

As of December, 2009, St. Mary’s Church was purchased by the Indian River Festival and as a result will ensure the long life of not only the Festival but an Island heritage treasure in both its cultural and historical value. In a time when many of our magnificent church buildings are being torn down or closed, there is added urgency to celebrate the efforts of an entire community dedicated to preserving its heritage and culture in this very special way.

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