‘Holy Goose Window’ adorns Ottawa-area church

Published August 31, 2022

The Anglican Journal continues its series of readers’ photo and text submissions on stained-glass windows, Capturing the Light. Submissions are subject to editing.

We invite you to share how light has led you to Light. Send us a photo of a stained-glass window that has been especially important to you, and tell us why. We hope to publish, either in print or online, all the submissions we receive. Photos should be high-resolution files in jpg format. Please email them to: [email protected].

Between 2006 and 2012, I was privileged, as a volunteer for the diocese of Ottawa archives, to create a photographic inventory of all the stained-glass windows in the diocese. That project resulted in a printed and digital database of more than 900 windows that included their descriptions and other information.

This window was created by Gerald Peter Mesterom for St. John’s South March in the deanery of Arnprior. Mesterom was a Dutch-born Canadian artist who fashioned stained-glass works of art for Roman Catholic and other churches, including 11 windows for six churches in the Anglican diocese of Ottawa. He had a very distinctive, modernist style that set his windows apart.

Mesterom died February 17, 2012 and his funeral was held at St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church in Orleans, in east-end Ottawa. All of St. Joseph’s windows but one had been made by him.

The Mesterom window at St. John’s South March was commissioned (with the approval of the Church Council) by the three daughters of Robert and Susanna Richardson in 1990 to commemorate their parents. The family collaborated with Mesterom to design a window that celebrated their pioneering roots, as reflected in the life of the early township.

As described by the rector at the time, the Rev. David Clunie (now Canon David Clunie), the three figures at the bottom left—the man, woman and child—are meant to suggest the Trinity, and the fish was meant to represent both the bounty of the river and Jesus.

The upper and right-hand panels of the window show facets of life in the Ottawa Valley: sowing and harvesting wheat, corn and sunflowers; spinning and early education in a one-room schoolhouse.

The parish wanted a Holy Spirit window, so Mesterom chose the Canada goose to represent it and placed it at the top where one typically sees a dove. The “Holy Goose Window” is still admired today for its beauty.

Brian Glenn
St. Helen’s Parish, Orleans, Ontario


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