The 140th anniversary events at St. Thomas Anglican Church kicked off Sept. 8 with a live band

The 140th anniversary events at St. Thomas Anglican Church kicked off Sept. 8 with a live band

St. Thomas Church history enmeshed with Chilliwack’s

St. Thomas is celebrating 140 years in Chilliwack with a series of special anniversary events that kicked off on Sept. 8.

The illustrious history of the St. Thomas Anglican Church dovetails with the history of Chilliwack itself.

St. Thomas is celebrating 140 years in Chilliwack with a series of special anniversary events that kicked off on Sept. 8.

“One of the purposes is to remind Chilliwack of its own history,” said Rev. John Sovereign about the 140th anniversary celebrations. “I’d also like the parish to appreciate what they’ve got, which is a very rich heritage.”

The original church building, not the one that now sits at Gore and First, was floated down Harrison Lake on canoes before being rebuilt in downtown Chilliwack.

It was actually the first structure on what would eventually be known as Five Corners.

“Chilliwack grew up around the church and played a significant role in the community,” he said.

The anniversary events kicked off last Saturday with a live band, a barbecue, church tours and old-fashioned games.

The next event is on September 29, with Vivian Seegers of Vancouver, an Anglican minister with First Nations roots will be talking about her work on the streets of Vancouver’s downtown eastside.

The 140th Anniversary celebrations continue in October with a historical Church of England service and luncheon complete with period costumes set for October 27.

“Guests are invited to dress in period garb as well,” the reverend said.

The service will contain a fair bit of singing in an older style of English during the historical church service.

A banquet at the church hall is slated for November 16 and will be open to the entire community.

Also in the works is a commemorative book that will highlight the storied history of St. Thomas parish over the past 140 years, in conjunction with the Chilliwack Museum and Archives.

December festivities will include a Dec. 5 concert by singer-songwriter Steve Bell and a special Christmas Eve Service as the 140th anniversary of St. Thomas Anglican Church comes to an end.

Here’s some of the key history of St. Thomas, gathered by resident Laura Reid.

To serve new residents of the Township of Chilliwack, an unused church, St. Marks, built in 1862, was floated through the waterways on six canoes from Port Douglas on Harrison Lake to Chilliwack, to be reconstructed on an acre of woodland, donated by Isaac Kipp, where Five Corners is today.

The church was renamed St. Thomas and consecrated on November 6, 1873 by the first Anglican bishop of B.C., George Hills. Prominent Chilliwack pioneers instrumental in the establishment of St. Thomas Anglican Church included Isaac Kipp (1839-1921), Horatio Webb (1852-1936), Jonathan Reece (1831-1904) and John McCutcheon (1842-1926).

To put the year 1873 in context, keep in mind B.C. was only a couple of years old, and the RCMP had just been formed, and the Township of Chilliwack was just established.

This small church served the community of Chilliwack until a larger one was built in 1897 on the same site at Five Corners in what would become Chilliwack’s downtown. Designed in the Carpenter Gothic style which was typical of English parishes, St. Thomas was built by hand with local lumber donated by church parishioners. The historic building was built with red cedar, douglas fir and maple.

With the growth of Chilliwack concentrated around Chilliwack Landing and Wellington Avenue, the land St. Thomas occupied at Five Corners was needed for future development. The church building was lifted onto rollers in 1919, and with the assistance of the Royal Engineers, St. Thomas was transported to its current spot, where Gore and First Avenues meet.

St. Thomas Parish continues to serve the community with monthly soup kitchens, seniors’ luncheons, a commitment of volunteers for the annual Salvation Army Christmas Kettle drive. Sunday worship services, weddings and funerals have been continuously held at St. Thomas for the past 140 years and remain vital functions of the parish.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A police vehicle turns on to Landing Drive on the Skwah Reserve on Thursday, March 11, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
One man charged after allegedly pointing firearm at Chilliwack RCMP officer

Richard Joseph Williams faces 6 charges after March incident near McCammon elementary and Skwah

Linnea Labbee outside the Chilliwack Law Courts on April 1, 2021 on day 16 of her trial in BC Supreme Court where she is charged in connection with the fatal hit-and-run of a 78-year-old woman on Mary Street on Dec. 1, 2016. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Crown seeking jail time for 72-year-old Chilliwack woman found guilty in fatal hit-and-run

Trial of Linnea Labbee who struck and killed 78-year-old woman in 2016 ended Monday

RCMP patch. (File)
Young prolific offender from Hope faces another raft of charges

Jacob Paul Sihata charged in 3rd set of serious incidents since he was 19

Former Merritt Centennial and current Chilliwack Chief Jackson Munro (left) evades Merritt’s Chase Cook during a weekend BCHL game at the Chilliwack Coliseum. (Darren Francis photo)
Goalies lead Chilliwack Chiefs to pair of wins in weekend BCHL action

Mathieu Caron picked up a shutout Friday and Jakob Gullmes earned his first BCHL victory Sunday

Environment Canada says the Eastern Fraser Valley will enjoy plenty of sunshine this week. (Black Press News File)
Sunny weather to stay around all week in Eastern Fraser Valley

Chilliwack, Abbotsford and Hope all forecasted for a week free of rainfall

Burnaby MLA Raj Chouhan presides as Speaker of the B.C. legislature, which opened it spring session April 12 with a speech from the throne. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. NDP promises more health care spending, business support in 2021 budget

John Horgan government to ‘carefully return to balanced budgets’

Surrey RCMP are seeking the public's help to locate three puppies stolen from a South Surrey home on April 10. (Surrey RCMP photos)
Puppies stolen during weekend break-and-enter in South Surrey

Surrey RCMP seeking public’s assistance in locating three American Bulldog puppies

A lady wears a sticker given out after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count slows after last week’s peak

3,219 new cases since Friday, 18 additional deaths

North Cowichan councillor Tek Manhas did not violate the municipality’s code of conduct by posting a sexist meme on Facebook, council concludes. (File photo)
B.C. municipality to take no action against councillor who posted sexist meme

Tek Manhas’s meme doesn’t violate North Cowichan council’s code of conduct, municipality concludes

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Guinevere, lovingly referred to by Jackee Sullivan and her family as Gwenny, is in need of a gynecological surgery. The family is raising money to help offset the cost of the procedure. (Jackee Sullivan/Special to Langley Advance Times)
Langley lizard’s owners raise funds for gynecological surgery

The young reptile is scheduled for operation on Tuesday

—Image: contributed
Indoor wine tastings still allowed in B.C., not considered a ‘social gathering’

“Tasting is really just part of the retail experience. The analogy I use is you wouldn’t buy a pair of pants without trying them on.”

Mounties say they “corralled” four Ford Mustangs April 4 after an officer saw the muscle cars racing down 184 Street near 53 Avenue at about 10 p.m. (File Photo)
Mounties impound four Mustangs

Surrey RCMP say they seized four cars for street racing

A sign on a shop window indicates the store is closed in Ottawa, Monday March 23, 2020. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is raising its estimate for the number of businesses that are considering the possibility of closing permanently. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Small business struggling amid COVID-19 pandemic looks for aid in Liberals’ budget

President Dan Kelly said it is crucial to maintain programs to help businesses to the other side of the pandemic

Most Read