Photos ... Gems over the years


 

Athabasca United Church Building


Link to an excellent short video about the construction and restoration of the church, narrated by Heather Kariel.


External link opens in new tab or windowChurch History Video


Link address: http://library.athabascau.ca/files/projects/qrtown/videos/site010.mp4


History of Athabasca United Church Building Restoration of Athabasca United Church Building

  • In 1912, the Methodist congregation of Athabasca coordinated construction of the church building at a cost of $14,000.
  • The structure is beautiful Gothic architecture with a bell tower.
  • The church plan included seating for 300 people with an adjacent Sunday school section that could accommodate 150 more with a view of the pulpit.
  • The upstairs also housed a ladies parlour, two classrooms and a minister’s vestry.
  • The basement housed a men’s club, which could be turned into a “splendid dining room” for 125 people, gymnasium, shower, cloakroom and kitchen.
  • Lighting was by natural gas lamps.
  • Two balconies were included in the original drawings but were not built.
  • Athabasca United Church building escaped the fire that swept through downtown Athabasca in August 1913.
  • It is believed that the church is the largest wooden frame structure still in daily use in Northern Alberta.
  • In 1925, Methodists joined with the Congregationalists and 70% of the Presbyterian denominations to establish the United Church of Canada.
  • The building has been used continuously for 104 years.

SIGNIFICANT DATES

May 18, 1913 – original dedication

August 5, 1913 – downtown Athabasca fire

May 31, 1985 – designated a Provincial Historic Resource

May 18, 1986 – building rededication

May 18, 2013 – centennial celebration (100 years)

  • In 1985, deficiencies in the struts and weight-bearing beams had caused the walls to move away from the roof and a major renovation was undertaken.
  • The walls were pulled back into squares using steel cables and the roof was stabilized with steel beams.
  • Many discoveries were made during the restoration process.  An 1882 embossed leather bible in prime condition was found, the brass fixtures for the natural gas lighting were discovered and a hidden stairway leading from the minister’s study to the basement was uncovered.
  • From 2012 to 2015, renewal continued with exterior repairs and the addition of accessibility features, including a front ramp, inside lift and accessible washroom. The kitchen was renovated and a dishwasher added from 2016 to 2017. Soon after, the downstairs flooring was replaced.



COMMITMENT TO THE COMMUNITY

  • With phenomenal acoustics, the building has been the centre for many concerts and community events.
  • The church has always been a meeting place for many community groups.  Current users include: AA, Al Anon, Women’s Willingness into Sobriety, TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly), Athabasca Community Handbell Ringers, Brownies and Girl Guides.