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Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
St. Paul's Anglican Church is a one-storey building situated on roughly 0.4 hectares of land in Calgary's historic Midnapore district. Erected in 1885, the church embodies the Carpenter Gothic architectural style in its wood construction, steeply pitched roof, pointed arch windows, separate entry porch and attached sanctuary.
The heritage value of St. Paul's Anglican Church lies in its association with the early establishment of educational and religious institutions in southern Alberta and in its early representation of Carpenter Gothic architecture.
The arrival of the Canadian Pacific Railway at Fort Calgary in 1883 established the fledgling community as a hub for settlement and development in southern Alberta. The trail south from Calgary to Fort Macleod became a significant transportation route and several stopping houses and small communities emerged along the path, including Fish Creek. In 1885, John Glenn, one of the pioneer farmers in the area, donated one acre of land for the construction of St. Paul's Anglican Church. The church was one of several constructed in the mid-1880s by the Anglicans to serve both Native and white populations in southern Alberta. Reverend E. Paske Smith, the Calgary's first resident Anglican clergyman, presided at the inaugural service in the church, held in September 1885. In addition to hosting religious services, St. Paul's Anglican Church also served as an early school. Mrs. Helen Millar (Shaw) taught community children in the church building from 1887 until 1891. St. Paul's Anglican Church is one of the first Anglican churches and one of the earliest school buildings still extant in Alberta.
Like many early churches in Alberta, St. Paul's was constructed in the Carpenter Gothic style. This form of frontier architecture rendered the traditional forms of stone and brick Gothic Revival architecture in wood. It was a popular style in early western Canada because of its use of readily available materials and its relative simplicity. This style is manifest in the building's wood construction, pointed arch windows, separate entry porch and attached sanctuary. Though generally representative of Carpenter Gothic architecture, the church's cruciform plan and steeply pitched roof distinguish it from most other provincial examples of this style. Several unique elements of the church enrich the building's heritage value. The church bell was donated to the parish by the congregation of the Church of St. Andrew the Apostle in Thelveton, Norfolk, England. The bell is believed to have been cast roughly two centuries before its removal to St. Paul's, making it one of the oldest church bells in the province. The interior of the church is graced by an elegant oak communion table, reredos, and lectern. These fine pieces were created by students at St. Dunstan's Indian Industrial School and exhibit a high degree of craftsmanship. Situated close to the historic St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Church and Lacombe Home, a facility constructed to serve orphans, the aged, and the poor, St. Paul's Anglican Church is an integral part of a complex of early religious buildings that speak powerfully of the place of faith in the development of the area.
Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 463)
The character-defining elements of St. Paul's Anglican Church include such features as:
- mass, form, scale, and style;
- wood construction;
- steeply pitched, cedar-shingled roof with central engaged belfry and bell from Thelveton, England;
- horizontal wood siding;
- fenestration pattern and style, including pointed arch windows;
- early stained glass windows, including east end window commemorating members of the congregation who died in World War One;
- separate entry porch and attached sanctuary;
- interior horizontal tongue-and-groove wood siding;
- original tongue-and-groove flooring;
- original interior double entry doors;
- oak communion table, reredos, and lectern;
- original artifacts, including baptismal font;
- spatial relationship to St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Church and Lacombe Home;
- associated cemetery, including spatial relationship to church, arrangement and nature of memorial markers.
Province of Alberta
Historical Resources Act
Provincial Historic Resource
Theme - Category and Type
- Building Social and Community Life
- Religious Institutions
- Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
- Architecture and Design
Function - Category and Type
- Religion, Ritual and Funeral
- Religious Facility or Place of Worship
Architect / Designer
John Charles Malcolm Keith
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. 463)
Cross-Reference to Collection