Former Saint John Church begins transformation into climbing gym – New Brunswick

On Saturday morning, a steady stream of pews was erected at the door of St. John the Baptist Church in southern Saint John. This is part of the transformation of the old church from a place of worship to a climbing hall.

“For us to be able to build the gymnasium, we can’t have all the benches here, and these are beautiful pieces of history, so we had to find new homes for a lot of them,” Climb co-owner said. 1884, David Alston.

Rather than throwing away the benches, they are sold: $ 125 for the little ones and $ 200 for the big ones. The aim is to make room for several climbing walls, including a 16-meter wall at the altar of the church.

Alston says he hopes to transform what was once an important community space into a different gathering place.

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“A church has always been a gathering place for people, it’s a place to build community,” Alston said.

“And the good thing about it is that it will be a gathering place again, but it will be a gathering place for climbers, for people who want to learn to climb, for people who climb to the top. ‘outside and want to climb inside. “

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These shopping benches have different uses in mind. Alston said some were bought by those in the congregation. Others are looking for a unique type of seat.

And some are meant to be reused by new community groups. Chad Sooley has purchased four large benches that will be used in the changing rooms of a new community center being built by the Trojan Rugby Club.

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“Obviously these have been around for 100 years and they still stand the test of time, so we think we can put them in our community center and that will add value,” Sooley said.

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Another of the goals of the new gymnasium is to support and develop the climbing community in the province. Half of the proceeds from the sale of the benches will go to Ascent NB to help them maintain climbing areas across the province.

“The money will go to our route development fund, which is there to replace the equipment that exists on the cliffs, so the climbing anchors that we have on the cliffs all over the province,” said the president of ‘Ascent NB, Greg Hughes.

Hughes says the sport has grown rapidly in recent years. With the Olympic rock climbing debut and the new gymnasium, Hughes says the sport is set to continue to grow in the province.

“I think a huge influx of new members is going to happen in the years to come.”

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