Local Views



I am very impressed by the architecture of the Cathedral of Christ the King on King St. West. I don’t just think it’s the top landmark of the Strathcona neighbourhood but the third best icon of the entire city of Hamilton. It’s massive, neo-Gothic and I love it.

The massive steeple is situated on the southeast corner of the church. It has two abstract head gargoyles that point over the church and seemingly overlook the nearby Highway 403. I don’t know why there are gargoyles, and why they both point in the same direction but I suspect that they somehow balance the steeple. Maybe, in keeping with traditional gargoyle lore, they help to deter evil spirits from settling on the church. The steeple is 48 metres (158 feet) tall.

The large crucifix at its green copper apex is 2 metres (7 feet) tall and made of bronze. I like the urban myth that it’s made of solid gold, was set there by helicopter during the completion of the cathedral in the 60’s or 70’s, and has been eyed by many ambitious thieves ever since.

Truth be told, the church was actually consecrated in 1933; six years before the first flight of the world’s first helicopter built by Igor Sikorsky.

If the cross was golden and some crook wanted to steal even just a piece of it, he or she may die trying to get up to it. Dropping the entire cross into the back of a getaway truck below might also prove useless as a cross that heavy and so high up would almost certainly fall straight through the truck (and only if you could accurately direct its fall to its target).

Still, bronze is worth quite a bit on the metals market if a thief were to get up there and saw chunks off. Never mind that, the vast copper roof alone would be worth a pretty penny to strip away night after night.

I jest of course. There’s no one that stupid to try such things. Or is there?

I’ve photographed this church so many times for my own pleasure. This was my first time shooting it as a silhouette. The image is not so much an architectural piece of a Catholic church built in honour of Jesus Christ but a tribute to the architects and engineers who created such a masterpiece.

I came close to shooting the CCK in silhouette several times before but was never satisfied with the sunset and cloud formations. The banded cirrocumulus with their heaviness to the right of the picture, and the evening sun breaking out from behind their thickest part was what I needed to make this shot from the centre lane of King Street West.

Making this a pure dark silhouette helped greatly too. My previous attempts were to not keep the church so dark so that I could show the detail of the steeple. What annoyed me with those attempts, however, were the telephone wires crossing the street. Canada is really bad for this when it comes to architectural/landscape photography. Unlike England which buries most of its power lines underground, we suspend all of our lines from poles and towers above ground right across the country. This, in my judgement, ruins most pictures. By making the CCK a virtually featureless silhouette, the wires are not so overbearing. The bonus is that the image also ceases being a fairly straight-forward architectural/landscape piece and becomes an urban photograph, capturing an interesting moment when the CCK is most beautiful.


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