Cassiar's Churches

Cassiar had two churches, an Anglican church and a Catholic church.


The following was excerpted from a message received in March 2007 from Archbishop Douglas Hambidge. This was in response to my forwarding to him a request from a lady in California researching Anglican churches in northern BC and seeking information on missioner Alan Rogers who was in Cassiar the summer of 1955.

One source of information about All Saints Church in Cassiar could be found in the Synod Office of the Diocese of Yukon as that church was administered by Yukon from about 1958 to the time it finally closed. The Yukon address is: The Diocese of Yukon, P.O. Box 31136, Whitehorse, YT  Y1A 5P7. The phone is: 867 667 7746

I arrived in Cassiar in the late Fall of 1956. Alan Rogers was a theological student sponsored by the Fellowship of the West. He was named "student minister" and spent a summer in the town. He was followed by another student minister, James Styles from Emmanuel College, Saskatoon.. Meanwhile the Reverend Fred Lapham visited from his parish in Teslin, but his visits were not regular because of weather and road conditions. A prime mover in the establishing of a parish was the Office Manager, Bill Corran. I was told that he contacted several denominations inviting them to consider establishing a church, with the understanding that members of all denominations would be welcome. The Anglican Diocese of Caledonia, and its bishop Horace Watts accepted the invitation and I was appointed after an interview by Bill Corran on one of his visits to London, England where my parish was. By then the pan-abode church was being constructed and was completed before I arrived.

The name of the church was ALL SAINTS ANGLICAN COMMUNITY CHURCH, and it was open to all non-Catholic people, as the Catholic folk already had their Our Lady of the Snows, and their colourful priest Fr. Hank Huijbers. I stayed in Cassiar for two years before the bishop moved me to the parish of Smithers, and I was replaced in Cassiar by The Reverend James Styles, now an ordained priest, and now engaged to Rosemary, the daughter of the local dentist, Dr.Claude Gunton and his wife Blanche.

My dates are now a bit confused, but at some point David Dexter served in the parish, and Albert Atkinson. and Eric...whose surname escapes me. By now it was a parish administered by the Bishop of Yukon, and I had little contact with it. When I became Bishop of Caledonia I continued the arrangement with Yukon, under Bishop John Frame, who had served with me as a parish priest in Caledonia.

The first wedding to take place in Cassiar was that of John and Rosemarie Bertram, and I suspect it was conducted by Fred Lapham. I conducted the second wedding between Yrjo Lajunen and Hilka Lisa...? The bride spoke no English and my Finnish was non-existent, so the entire service was sent to the pastor in Finland, and explained to Hilka.and I simply hoped she knew what I was talking about when the time came!

Among the ministries of All Saints was outreach to the local First Nations folk around Good Hope Lake. Denise and I went out in a borrowed car to conduct a brief service in the home of one of the native families. Another outreach was the English as a Second Language to some of the single men working in the mine or mill. This was not a "religious" thing, but simply a service that was needed. I led some of these sessions by Mrs.Bronson, wife of Charlie Bronson, Asst.Gen.Manager, led most of them. Although services were in the Anglican format, they were simplified so that non-Anglicans could feel at home, and I believe they did.

The Parish Council consisted of only one or two Anglicans, and many other denominations were represented. For the children there was a lively Sunday School, and in the summer the company loaned me one of their small "man-haul" buses to take the children on outings to nearby lakes etc. They were great fun!

Douglas Hambidge-Archbishop.

 

Jim Doucet reports the All Saints Anglican Community Church, a panabode building, was purchased at auction and was dismantled and is now sitting in bundles in Garden Bay, BC on the Sechelt Peninsula.


The Catholic church was called My Lady of Lourdes. It may have been designed by Chuck Caron (but he was one of the volunteers that helped build it) and was built by Cassiar before 1957.

Dr. Suzanne LeBlanc relates the Catholic church story on page 63 of her book "Cassiar: A Jewel in the Wilderness".

The first priest was Father Huijbers, who arrived in 1952,  He was followed by Father Poullet in 1955, who supervised the building of the church by Cassiar that year.

There is no mention of who provided the bell, but it must have been Father Poullet.  At the auction the bell was sold to a parishioner (unknown). Presumably it was installed in Watson Lake.

Father Poullet was followed by Father McAllister.

The Catholic church was built before 1957 but only the basement was completed. It remained uncompleted for several years before father Poullet completed the rest of the church. (In the early 1960's)

The bell came from but it was most likely purchased by Father Poullet.

The Catholic church had the bell and was removed befor the church was sold, perhaps by the priest from Atlin.

The building was purchased by Valdemar Isidoro, who did not remove it in the time frame allotted so it was still there when as of June 2003 (and is still believed to be there now).

This page was last edited Monday, February 02, 2015

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