History Festival Includes Church Street Tour
An inspiring glimpse into historic churches in McCauley.
On July 6, local historian Tim Marriott led an exceptional tour of Church Street (96 Street). Participants were invited to see the interiors of three of the 12 historic and multicultural churches located between 106th and 111th Avenues.
On the interiors tour were Sacred Heart Church of the First Peoples Roman Catholic Church (1913), Ansgar Danish Lutheran Church (1939), and St. Josaphat Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral (1947). At each location a parish pastor/priest was on hand to talk about the congregation, their religious beliefs, and the history of the building: Fr. Susai Jesu at Sacred Heart, Fr. Peter Babej at St. Josaphat, and Pastor Lasse Hultberg at Ansgar.
“We are so grateful to them for taking time out of their busy schedules to open their doors for our tour,” says Clare Mullen, a partner with Marriott in a relatively new local pursuit, Alberta History Tours, www.albertahistorytours.ca.
Marriott says, “Clare and I wished to emphasize the community nature of each church’s experience. We certainly also wanted to note 96 Street as a manifestation of Edmonton’s welcoming of newcomers over so many generations. And finally, we wished participants to get a view of Church Street and the McCauley neighbourhood as an important, positive contributor to Edmonton’s wonderful cultural diversity and richness.”
The wealth of information tour participants received is impossible to describe in a brief news story. But following are a few tidbits that illustrate how interesting this event was.
- All three of the churches visited have prominent architectural features that reflect the original parishioners’ religious affiliation and country of origin: French Gothic Revival, Danish, and Byzantine Rite.
- In 1991, Sacred Heart was officially designated Edmonton’s First Nations, Métis, and Inuit parish. The church walls feature original works of art by Indigenous and Métis artists, and the services reflect the congregation’s culture.
- The nave or central part of a church is from the Latin word for “ship.” Pastor Lasse (generally known by his first name) of Ansgar Danish Lutheran Church described how all members of a congregation are travelling together, as if on a ship.
- St. Josaphat, considered to be one of the finest examples of Ukrainian-Canadian church architecture, is a designated provincial historic resource.
- The ethnic origins of the newcomers Marriott refers to in his comments above include French Catholic, Danish, German, Irish, Croatian, Portuguese, Spanish (South American), and Vietnamese.
This tour was one of several dozen such offerings at the 23rd annual Edmonton & District Historical Society’s Historic Festival and Doors Open Edmonton, held in the first week of July.
Anita Jenkins is a retired writer and editor who lives in Boyle Street.