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Visit rural Manitoba’s historic churches

Buildings and cemeteries hold much historical information and some are designated heritage sites

Manitoba has many historic rural churches. Some no longer operate as churches, while others hold services only occasionally, but the buildings and accompanying cemeteries are often well maintained. Country churches, those not in towns or villages, are particularly interesting.

One such church is St. Mary’s/St. Alban’s Anglican Church, situated southwest of the village of Kaleida (which is southeast of Manitou). From Kaleida, drive about one km south on Hwy. 528, then three km west on Rd. 8 N. This beautiful stone building was built in 1892, for an approximate cost of $6,500, in honour of the Hon. William Winram. A pioneer settler from England, he was elected to the Manitoba legislature in 1878, and retained that position for 13 years. The stones came from the Pembina Valley, cut there by local men under the direction of stone cutter, Richard Seward. Further information about the architect, the window maker, and various renovations carried out over the years, is printed on a stone plaque at the front of the church. The place (buildings, grounds and cemetery) is designated as a municipal heritage site. Although regular services are no longer held, the building and grounds are open to visitors. At 28×44 feet, the church is larger than many early rural ones, and the interior is beautiful. Be sure to wander through the cemetery behind it.

All Saints Anglican Church, about five km north of Clanwilliam on Hwy. 262, is another place worth a visit. This wooden church, built for $1,400 by a group of English settlers on land donated by homesteader, Octavius Averill, opened in the summer of 1884. After only 20 years, the congregation had outgrown All Saints, so in 1905 another church — St. Mary’s — was built in Clanwilliam. They operated as a combined parish for more than 70 years. By the 1980s, St. Mary’s was in poor condition and demolished, but All Saints was worth preserving. Although deconsecrated in the 1990s, it was taken over by a non-profit organization, All Saints Foundation Inc., which looks after the property. Extensive restoration has been carried out, and the church is kept open for visitors to view the stained glass windows, and read the historical plaques and documents kept on display.

All Saints Anglican Church and cemetery.
photo: Gamache Photos

St. Anne’s Anglican Church is located in the RM of Portage la Prairie, along Hwy. 26 about four km west of Poplar Point (east of Portage). Almost hidden among trees on the south side of the road, it was built around 1860, and is said to be the second-oldest surviving Anglican church in Manitoba. (St. Andrews on the Red is the oldest known church west of the Great Lakes.) St. Anne’s is a single-storey, wood-frame/log building, and the church and lot have been designated as a municipal and provincial historical site. It has a plain, functional structure with handmade pews and was constructed of logs using the technique known as Red River frame; the logs are still exposed in the entrance part of the church. Despite its age, St. Anne’s is still used for services during the summer.

Located in the RM of Rossburn (6.4 km north of Oakburn on Hwy. 577 and then 1.6 km east on Rd. 11 N.), is St. John Cantius Roman Catholic Church. A log church and rectory were built there in 1900 by Polish and Ukrainian families, and a Roman Catholic parish was organized the following year. It was replaced by a second, larger building that was destroyed by fire in 1928, and the present church was built the following year. It is now a municipal historic site.

There are many other rural churches worth a visit, including Tamarisk United Church, southeast of Grandview, at the corner of Rd. 142 N. and Rd. 136 W. Originally a Methodist Church, it was opened in 1907 and is a provincial historic site. Another one is the original St. Michael’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church near Gardenton (southeast of St. Malo). It is classed as “the oldest existing Ukrainian church in Canada.”

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