THE RELIGIOUS CHRONICLES OF ST. CHAD’S CHURCH OF ENGLAND, LUNDBRECK
by Farley Wuth, Curator, with Researched by Donna Cisar
Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village
Copyright, Pincher Creek & District Historical Society
St. Chad’s Church of England served the Lundbreck area for an impressive sixty-four years from, 1909 to 1973.
Although the Church’s official history dates to the autumn of 1909, serious fundraising and planning efforts dated back more than two years earlier with the arrival of the Reverend Mowat. Mowat had concerns at this early stage that given the increasing costs of labour and lumber, it would not be possible to build a church for less than one-hundred pounds which was equivalent to five hundred dollars (Mowat was from England and presented his analysis in English currency). Even with these concerns, Mowat quickly organized weekly Sunday services for Anglicans residing in Lundbreck. The schedule was carefully crafted in order that Mowat be able to lead similar services in Cowley and at St. Martin’s. They usually gathered in people’s homes. Mowat was often pleased with the attendance. Records were broken in October 1907 when the evening service the third Sunday saw 43 people come to church followed by an impressive 51 the following Sunday afternoon. Parishioners hoped that the new church could accommodate up to 75 worshippers.
Parishioners came up with unique ideas for fundraising. One woman in the community asked those friends who wished to give her Christmas presents to instead donate a sum of money to the church’s building fund. Quickly close to fifty dollars formed the basis of a nest egg. The following spring saw nearly 480 dollars being raised thus far which included a donation of forty dollars from Mowat himself. The Ladies Guild organized a sale which raised nearly fifty dollars.
March 1908 saw the selection and purchase of two lots for the church, located on the east-west trunk road near the centre of the settlement. Its location, street frontage, and close proximity to the proposed school made the site’s location obvious. The property cost 150 dollars and the church had only two-thirds that amount in the bank but was able to secure further funds to make the purchase.
The physical construction of the church became a priority in the autumn of 1908 with local ranchers and farmers assisting with volunteer labour. A dugout was excavated first. There were delays caused by the winter weather and the church found the original drawings calling for too elaborate a structure. Revised blueprints were approved by the building committee and foundation cribbing work was launched in mid-summer. An extensive work-bee that August and September saw St. Chad’s Anglican Church constructed and nearly finished for its opening gala. Carpenters, labourers, a cook and someone to care for the horses all lined up to help with the project. Work shifts were from 7 in the morning till twelve noon and then from one in the afternoon to six in the evening. Mowat who took part in the construction was equally pleased with its progress. The completed structure featured a Chancel, Nave and Parish Room supplemented by a lobby and Vestry.
St. Chad’s was officially opened with three services on Tuesday, September 14th, 1909. That morning the Anglican Bishop from Calgary preached an impressive service and officially dedicated the Church. In the afternoon the incumbent priest, the Reverend W. H. Mowat, presented a much thought about service on the life and times of the patron saint, St. Chad. The day’s final service was held that evening, with a lecture given by the Reverend Gale from the Kainai First Nation. Each service was attended by a large number of parishioners including 62 at the morning service, 21 (mostly children) in the afternoon, and 42 for the evening service.
A substantial amount of money was donated to the church’s building fund during the services. In a sale held the previous day, Monday, September 13th, the Ladies Aid had sold a large amount of their works which also supported the church’s efforts. Over three-hundred dollars was realized. The sale was well patronized in spite of poor weather and rough roads. The church debt resulting from its construction amounted to one hundred pounds – British currency was used in its measurement as a result of the background of the Reverend W. H. Mowat.
Lumber was shipped into Lundbreck via the C.P.R. line for the building’s construction, which was facilitated through the volunteer efforts of its early parishioners. On several occasions they worked late into the night to ensure the building was ready in time. A coal-burning stove accompanied by a long chimney provided heat for the structure. A handsome pulpit stood at the front. The original one used for St. Chad’s dedication service had been borrowed from Livingstone parishioners. Archival images indicate that St. Chad’s Church was a well-maintained, rectangular one-storey frame structure. A small parsonage, also a frame structure, was used during Reverend Mowat’s tenure.
The Reverend William H. Mowat (1874 – 1934) served those from the Anglican faith at Lundbreck, Cowley and Livingstone for three years from 1907 to 1910, and was instrumental in establishing St. Chad’s. He was born and raised in England. Mowat was succeeded at St. Chad’s and St. Martin’s by the Reverend William Simpson, who served from 1910 to 1912 and by the Reverend Robert John Sheris, whose tenure was from 1913 to 1915. Sheris also served Cowley and Coleman during those years.
Weekly services at St. Chad’s starting in the autumn of 1909 were held at 7:30 p.m. the second and fourth Sundays of each month and on the third and fifth Sundays starting at 3:15 p.m.
Many years later, in 1952 special Christmas Day services were given by the Reverend Axon of Calgary.
Several weddings were held at St. Chad’s over the years including Mr. and Mrs. Robert Farmholtz the afternoon of Saturday, April 2nd, 1959. The bride, the former Shirley White, hailed from Lundbreck. The service was performed by the Reverend Canon Leslie from St. Augustine’s Church in Lethbridge. A decade later, on August 30th, 1969 the wedding of Pat Dwyer and Linda Noble was performed at St. Chad’s.
Sunday school activities were regularly featured at St. Chad’s. The class of circa 1945 – 1946 included an impressive twenty-two local youngsters, such as siblings Mickey and Doug Connelly, Dorothy, Tommy and Joyce Oakley, Gail Patton, Bessie and Frieda Robertson, Laura, Francis, and Bessie Robertson, Jean Carswell, Raymond Rhodes, Dorothy, Shirley and Margaret White and Bobby and Jack Morden.