July 17th, 2024

Tattered rural church tells an historic story

By GILLIAN SLADE on July 24, 2020.

St. Anthony of Padua Church is more than 100 years old and can be seen on the road leading to Etzikom, providing a fascinating snapshot of history.--NEWS PHOTO GILLIAN SLADE

gslade@medicinehatnews.com@MHNGillianSlade

Turn off Highway 3 heading toward Etzikom and a little historic church near the side of the road paints a fascinating picture of life for farmers in the area more than a century ago.

An architecturally interesting wooden church is showing its age and is no longer in use but there is also a cemetery with names that many of us know well in the area.

According to historical records the 10-acre site was acquired in what is known as the Granlea area in 1911. It is not clear how many families were involved but those who were, each donated $50. Further fundraising activities took place at card parties, community suppers, barn dances and other social events.

Parishioners were in charge of the construction that began in 1912, completed in 1916 and officially opened and named St. Anthony of Padua.

More fundraising was needed over the years to help cover the cost of heating fuel and general maintenance.

Within a few years people in the area were experiencing some difficult times. In the early 1920s there was drought and economic depression with many parishioners leaving their farms and moving away.

After the Second World War some families returned to the region.

With St. Anthony’s church membership increasing a second building, what had been the Bar Vee School, was bought and moved to the site in 1947. It became the fellowship hall and catechism classroom.

In 1951 the church underwent a renovation inside and outside. Altars and communal rails were replaced, there was new paint and plaster, a new propane heater, roof shingles and concrete steps. At this stage the initial tall steeple was reduced in size. The renovation extended to the yard with fences being built and trees planted.

In 1957 electricity was installed and a new propane furnace.

In 1962 a new organ was donated, replacing the old one dating back to when the church was built.

The number of people attending services and the total membership had declined by the 1970s and by 1980 there were only 21 parishioner families in the district.

The last formal event that was held in the church was a wedding in 1986.

It was vandalized in 1991 and most of the contents were stolen. At that stage a tough decision was made to close the church and sell the building. Someone expressed interest in buying the building and moving it to another location to be re-purposed as a house. This never materialized and the building has remained vacant.

It was vandalized again in 2014 when the iron cross on the top of the steeple was stolen.

If you would like to see St. Anthony’s, drive out on Highway 3 toward Seven Persons and take Highway 887. The church is a long way before you reach Etzikom and can easily be seen on the right as you approach. There is plenty of space to turn into the church yard and park.

Share this story:

18
-17
27 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
trackback
3 years ago

… [Trackback]

[…] Read More here: medicinehatnews.com/news/local-news/2020/07/24/tattered-rural-church-tells-an-historic-story/ […]

trackback
3 years ago

… [Trackback]

[…] Find More here to that Topic: medicinehatnews.com/news/local-news/2020/07/24/tattered-rural-church-tells-an-historic-story/ […]

trackback
3 years ago

… [Trackback]

[…] Find More on on that Topic: medicinehatnews.com/news/local-news/2020/07/24/tattered-rural-church-tells-an-historic-story/ […]

trackback
3 years ago

… [Trackback]

[…] Read More Info here on that Topic: medicinehatnews.com/news/local-news/2020/07/24/tattered-rural-church-tells-an-historic-story/ […]

trackback
3 years ago

… [Trackback]

[…] There you will find 47468 additional Information on that Topic: medicinehatnews.com/news/local-news/2020/07/24/tattered-rural-church-tells-an-historic-story/ […]