Description of Historic Place
Blumenfeld Church is a Municipal Heritage Property located approximately 15 km south of the Village of Prelate in southwest Saskatchewan in the RM of Happyland No. 231. The property features a two-storey, wood-frame church built in 1915, a small clapboard prayer house, a cemetery, a memorial cairn, a fieldstone shrine, and open-air Stations of the Cross, all situated on a grassy 4 ha parcel of land set apart by hedgerows from the surrounding fields. A recently constructed wood-frame building used to serve refreshments at community gatherings is a non-contributing resource. Located on a prominent ridge, the church has a commanding presence on the local landscape.
The heritage value of Blumenfeld Church lies in its association with the Prelate district’s German-Russian pioneers, and in its long-standing, prominent role in the religious and social life of the community. Prior to the establishment of Blumenfeld Parish in 1912, the district’s German-Catholic homesteaders were served by Oblate missionaries from Lethbridge, Alberta. The current church, built in 1915 and named Saints Peter and Paul Church, provided the community with its own place of worship, becoming the “Mother Church” for several subsequent parishes in the Prelate area. With the construction of a fieldstone shrine to Our Lady of the Sorrows in 1936, the church became an important pilgrimage destination. The church ceased regular services in 1962, but still provides a venue for occasional weddings, funerals, and community gatherings. The cemetery remains in use, and annual pilgrimages to the shrine continue. Today’s community residents also regard the property as an important symbol of continuity between generations, and as a memorial to the district’s early settlers.
Heritage value also exists in the church’s architecture, and in the elaboration and historical integrity of its interior elements. Like many country churches in the province, the building has a simple vernacular design. Its comparatively large scale and interior embellishments, however, set it apart from the typically more modest rural churches found in Saskatchewan, illustrating the importance the community attached to its religious institutions.
Further heritage value is found in the wrought iron crosses that mark some of the graves in the cemetery and adorn the shrine. Attributed to Stanley Wingenpak, a former community blacksmith, the crosses are fine examples of a traditional folk art brought to North America by German-speaking immigrants from Russia.
Rural Municipality of Happyland No. 231 Bylaw No. 1-83.
The heritage value of Blumenfeld Church resides in the following character-defining elements:
-elements that speak to the church’s prominence in the community; for example, its massing and scale with its two-storey nave; the church’s exterior colour scheme of light-hued walls and contrasting dark roof and spire; the concrete gateposts at the entrances to the churchyard; and the church’s siting on a prominent ridge with a commanding view of the surrounding countryside;
-architectural features that identify the property as a place of worship; for example, the church's cruciform-plan of nave and polygonal apse, with vestry and sacristy opening from a raised chancel; the centrally-positioned bell tower surmounted by belfry, spire and cross; the rounded-arch windows in the first-storey walls, bell tower, and above the entranceway; the round windows in the clerestory; and the clapboard prayer house with round-topped doorway surmounted by a cross.
-interior elements that speak to the building’s ecclesiastical function; for example, the elaborately detailed altars, the confessional, and religious statuary;
-elements that reflect the historical integrity of the church interior; for example, the wood flooring, walls and ceiling; the exposed ceiling beams with decorative brackets; columns; chancel rail; the loft and staircase with balustrades at the rear of the church; stained glass in the windows; and period fixtures such as the cast iron heating grills;
-elements that speak to the property’s role as a pilgrimage site; for example, the open-air Stations of the Cross, the Our Lady of the Sorrows shrine with its fieldstone construction topped by a wrought iron cross, the shrine’s replica “La Pieta” sculpture, and terraced earthen platforms where pilgrims gather before the shrine;
-elements that reflect the property’s role as a venue for community gatherings; for example the open grounds bordered by hedgerows, and the hall space in the church basement;
-elements that express the property’s connection to the community’s pioneers; for example, the church’s location on its original site; the memorial cairn with dedication plaque; the layout of the interments and grave markers in the cemetery, including the iron cross markers, and the Stations of the Cross with German-language text on the interior walls of the church.