McDOUGALL MEMORIAL UNITED CHURCH
McDougall Mission Site
Morley Methodist Mission Site
Morley's Old Methodist Church
Morleyville Methodist Mission
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The McDougall Memorial United Church is a one-storey building located on the north bank of the Bow River, roughly two kilometres east of Morley. The church was constructed in 1875 in the Carpenter's Gothic style and features pointed arch windows and front door, shingled front-gabled roof, and a central steeple crowned by a pinnacle. The designation also includes the archaeological remains of mission structures at the site.
The heritage value of the McDougall Memorial United Church lies in its association with early missionary efforts and pioneering settlement in southern Alberta at the Morleyville Mission, its association with the famed McDougall family, and its architectural significance as the first Carpenter's Gothic building still standing in Alberta on its original site.
The Morleyville Mission was established in 1873 and relocated several kilometres to its present site in 1875, when construction on several mission buildings - including the McDougall Memorial United (formerly Methodist) Church - began in earnest. The mission was at the vanguard of Methodist evangelical efforts in southern Alberta, representing the first permanent Protestant mission in the region and serving the Native tribes in the area, particularly the Mountain Stoney peoples living along the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains. It was also a pioneering settlement, featuring southern Alberta's first permanent homestead, first herd of breeding cattle, and first Protestant church, as well as one of the province's first trained teachers - Andrew Sibbald. Buildings at the early mission included a house, orphanage, teacherage, barns, corrals, and other structures. For a brief period during its early years, the Morleyville Mission was a hub for area settlers, though its influence diminished after the Canadian Pacific Railway built its line south of the Bow River, bypassing the mission and establishing right-of-way communities like Cochrane and Mitford as the nuclei of rural growth in the region.
The Reverend George McDougall and his son John, renowned for their missionary endeavours, pioneering settlement activities, and role in Canadian nation-building, were essential in the establishment of the mission at Morleyville. They collaborated to found the mission and John resided on the site and supervised mission operations for many years. From the early 1860s until his death in 1876, George McDougall served as superintendent of the Methodist missions in western Canada, establishing and overseeing missionary work across the vast region. John actively participated in his father's missionary efforts as a teacher and interpreter and carried the torch of Methodist mission work in the province after his father's death. With their wives and families, the McDougalls also laid the foundations for some of the earliest settlement in Alberta. As pioneer settlers and missionaries, the McDougalls were uniquely positioned to form relationships with the Native communities in the province during a difficult transitional period. George and John served the Native peoples during smallpox epidemics, sought to end the destruction to their communities caused by the liquor trade, and acted as peacemakers and intermediaries between Euro-Canadian settlers and politicians and the province's Native communities. As missionaries, settlers, and negotiators, the McDougalls established some of the early civil institutions in the province and helped prepare the way for the waves of homesteaders who arrived in Alberta in the following decades. Following George McDougall's tragic death in a snowstorm, his body was brought back to the church at Morleyville and laid to rest.
The McDougall Memorial United Church is the earliest example of the Carpenter's Gothic style of architecture still standing in its original location. This particular style of building construction uses wood to emulate the traditionally stone structures of Old World Gothic architecture, creating a vernacular style unique to North America. The style is evident in the central steeple with pinnacle as well as the pointed arches over the front entryway and the windows. The church was restored in the 1950s.
Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 432)
The character-defining elements of the McDougall Memorial United Church include such features as:
- George McDougall's headstone;
- gate and path to church;
- archaeological remains of mission structures.
- wood siding;
- shingled, front-gabled roof;
- fenestration pattern and style, including pointed arch windows;
- pointed arch front entryway;
- projecting central steeple with four square openings in upper shaft and crowned by a shingled, pyramidal roof with a pinnacle;
- original bell;
- stained glass windows;
- original artifacts.
Province of Alberta
Historical Resources Act
Provincial Historic Resource
Theme - Category and Type
- Peopling the Land
- Building Social and Community Life
- Religious Institutions
Function - Category and Type
- Religion, Ritual and Funeral
- Religious Facility or Place of Worship
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, Old St. Stephen's College, 8820 - 112 Street, Edmonton, AB T6G 2P8 (File: Des. 432)
Cross-Reference to Collection