NEWFOUNDLAND St. John’s Cathedral 1841 52mm cast silver medal 58.9 grams Leroux 323, Breton 179, McLachlan 540
Obverse: St John's Basilica THE CATHEDRAL OF ST JOHNS, NEWFOUNDLAND / THE HOUSE WHICH I DESIRE TO BUILD IS GREAT. 2 PARALIP. II. / J. TAYLOR BIRM
Reverse: The bishop conducting a mass for the consecration of the cornerstone. A job sight in the background with an all-seeing eye and rays directly above. THE FIRST STONE LAID BY THE RT REVD DR FLEMING V.A. 1841 / ALLEN
On a cast medal it is sometimes difficult to detect all of the lettering.
This is certainly a scarce medal in white metal, and should be considered rare in silver. In Robert McLachlans's Coins, Tokens And Medals of Canada, as well in The Currency and Medals of Newfoundland by Francis Rowe, James Haxby and Robert Graham they only make reference to white metal medals being made.
Provenance: Michael Joffre Collection of Canadian Historical Medals
The project to build a cathedral was not without its problems. A serious set-back occurred in 1840, with the failure of the bank in London which held the funds of the Newfoundland vicariate. This loss of £4,700 did not deter Fleming, and he was generously supported by his flock: when the cornerstone of the cathedral was laid on 20 May 1841 over £2,300 was given or pledged. There was some opposition but the probably more widely held was the view expressed by the Newfoundland Vindicator: “The people see it with wonder – they watch its progress each week with interest – they look upon the very walls with a species of veneration.”
The basilica was designated a National Historic Site in 1984, the same year it was visited by Pope John Paul II. In more recent times (2022) the CBC reports "an iconic piece of St. John's history and the city's skyline has been sold for more than $3 million — to a trio of Catholic groups hoping to save the building from developers."