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St. Oswald's Anglican Church

19016 96 Avenue, Surrey, British Columbia, V4N, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1983/05/16

Exterior view of St. Oswald's Anglican Church, 2004; Donald Luxton and Associates, 2004
Front view
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Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2005/03/15

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Set in a grassy churchyard on a prominent corner location in the neighbourhood of Port Kells, St. Oswald's Anglican Church is a well-proportioned vernacular example of an early church in Surrey from the pre-World War One era. It features a bell tower and a vestry at the rear, and is surrounded by a small cemetery. There is a row of four landmark Douglas Fir trees situated along the property line along 190 Street, which define the western boundary of the churchyard.

Heritage Value

St. Oswald's Anglican Church is significant for its association with the early development of Port Kells. Conceived as a fresh water port on the banks of the Fraser River by two men, both named Henry Kells, the townsite was laid out in 1889 and two years later became a stop on the New Westminster Southern Railway. There was hope that the area would benefit from the Canadian National Railway's development initiatives at nearby Port Mann, but these grandiose plans failed to materialize. The church remains as a significant link to the modest nature that characterized Port Kells during its early years, and the hope that the community would grow and mature over time.

Dating from 1911, St. Oswald's is of architectural significance for its British Arts and Crafts design, and represents the principles of fine craftsmanship and the use of natural materials that are hallmarks of the style. The interior woodwork and finishing are of the highest quality, with structural elements emphasized to create a distinctive interior character. St. Oswald's is additionally significant as a surviving example of the work of architect Frank William Macey (1863-1935). Born and trained in England, Macey was well respected for having published two standard texts for the architectural profession. He was the first resident architect in Burnaby, where he settled in the first decade of the twentieth century, and where he obtained a number of commissions from prominent businessmen who were building grand homes in the new community of Deer Lake. He designed predominantly in the British Arts and Crafts style, of which this rural church is a notable example.

The church is valuable for its association with two men of local importance: Henry Kells, whose family donated eight of the original town lots for the church; and Walter James Walker, Surrey Reeve and wealthy philanthropist, who wanted to ensure that the Anglican Church was established in the Diocese of New Westminster. Walker commissioned Macey to design three churches, two of which still exist, this church and St. Helen's on Old Yale Road.

The site is also significant for its landscape features and the small cemetery surrounding the church. Along the western property line is a row of Douglas Firs that are exceptional in size, age and species. These trees create a strong boundary along 190 Street, setting St. Oswald's apart from its now largely industrial context. There is also a Royal Oak Tree planted on the site, signifying connections to the Anglican faith and the Mother Country.

Source: Heritage Planning Files, City of Surrey

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that define the heritage character of St. Oswald's Anglican Church include its:
- prominent corner location, at the corner of 190 Street and 96 Avenue;
- continuous use as a site of worship;
- picturesque and asymmetrical form, scale and massing, with gabled roofs, square bell tower and regular fenestration;
- British Arts and Crafts style, as expressed in the use of natural materials, fine craftsmanship and British historical precedents;
- front gable roof with hipped roof porch with raised gable over entry, clad with wood shingles;
- exterior features such as: horizontal wooden siding; the bell tower; the open front porch with square timber columns and open screenwork; and banks of casement windows;
- original interior features such as: the wooden pews with carved ends; wooden panelling; and stained glass in the chancel;
- superior craftsmanship and detailing, including exceptional woodwork and consistent use of decorative motifs throughout;
- surrounding cemetery with early grave markers; and
- associated landscape features such as: a row of four Douglas Fir trees along the west edge of the site; a Royal Oak Tree planted on the site; and other mature shrubs and trees.



British Columbia

Recognition Authority

Local Governments (BC)

Recognition Statute

Local Government Act, s.954

Recognition Type

Community Heritage Register

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Building Social and Community Life
Religious Institutions

Function - Category and Type



Religion, Ritual and Funeral
Religious Facility or Place of Worship

Architect / Designer

Frederic William Macey



Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Heritage Planning Files, City of Surrey

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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