Local Church, Heritage Site and a Community Gathering Place for over 100 years
Hidden in plain sight, just a ½ block from the Ardrossan Recreation Complex sits one of our lovely historic buildings, the Ardrossan United Church.
I recently had the opportunity to tour this charming church that has played such a significant role in the history of the hamlet. Sincere thanks to Shauna Anderson for enabling the tour and to Board Chair, Nelson Modin for sharing its terrific history with me.
The history of the congregation goes back over 118 years, to 1901. There were originally two separate congregations – The First Presbyterian and the Methodist, located about a mile apart from each other. Those churches were originally located about 5 km northeast of the current Ardrossan town site, near where the Fairmount Cemetery that divides Highway 16 currently sits.
About 1898, the Lackey family claimed a couple of homesteads nearby and the area became known as the Lackey Settlement, about a mile west from where the cemetery sits. The First Presbyterian Church was built in 1901 and was also used as a school for the area.
The Fairmount Methodist church was built in 1902, the cemetery beside it called Fairmount Cemetery. The first person to be interred in the cemetery is said to be a bachelor who had, sadly, been found frozen to death. Our harsh Alberta winters were certainly even more challenging then than they are now, for pioneers who lived without the luxury of power and central heating systems.
A Church on the Move
Ardrossan started to take shape in 1908, as a new railroad was getting built. While the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway didn’t arrive until 1909, the men building the railroad set up tents and other housing for themselves. At one point, the construction of the railway employed thousands of men east of Edmonton. To provide worship services for these men, a Reverend originally set up a tent, until it was decided to move the Church.
It took a team of 12 horses and sleighs to pull the Fairmount Methodist Church into the town site in 1910. In the meantime, homesteaders were busy clearing land and their preferred method was fire. Sadly, the original church was burned down in a bush fire but was rebuilt by year end.
In 1915, an addition was built on to the church to house student ministers while they were serving the area. The “new” church was built in 1960 and the student minister area is what now links the two buildings together, through a bit of a maze. The interior of the new church is stunning, with the light from the stained glass bouncing off the wood ceilings.
In the Community Today
The Church is really active in the community and many different groups meet here weekly. All are welcome to join in worship services Sunday morning at 10:00 or for coffee and fellowship Thursday mornings at 9 am, in the little church.
Both Churches, as well as the kitchen and basement area, are offered as affordable rentals for funerals, weddings and other events. Contact Shauna Anderson for more details, phone 780.922.2255 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want to read more?
Stay curious! Until next month,
Jenny from the blog