In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, many European immigrants made the long and arduous journey to the western Canadian prairies. They came with the promise of 160 acres of homestead land, and the hopes for a better future for themselves and their families.
They also came for freedom – freedom from oppression; freedom from conscription and conflict; freedom to make their own decisions; and freedom to worship as they pleased. In the early years, life for these pioneers was difficult and challenging. They endured and overcame many hardships and obstacles. They eventually succeeded in establishing themselves in the new land.
An important priority for the pioneers was worship to support their spiritual and religious needs. As a result, thousands of parishes and small churches, of all denominations, were built across the prairies. Money and resources were scarce, but with great determination, sacrifice, and effort, beautiful churches and their associated halls were constructed.
Parish life was an integral part of early pioneer days. The church services provided them with spiritual strength to deal with the many challenges and hardships. The churches enabled members to participate in sacraments such as baptism, marriage and funerals. The parish halls were hosts to many spiritual, cultural, social and entertainment activities. The halls were frequently booked for local weddings, for annual general meetings (with their endless debates), for local concerts and dances, for bingos and other fund-raising events, and for the fall suppers featuring fabulous food.
After World War II and into the 1950’s, migration and depopulation of the small rural areas began. People moved to the cities to find work. Farms became larger and mechanized, requiring fewer people to operate them. Many smaller communities saw a decline in population. This also affected parish memberships and their sustainability.
Now, as we are well into the 21st century, many of the beautiful prairie churches are dying and disappearing. There are not enough local members to support or maintain them. The membership that remains, is aged and will be passing on in the next decade or so.
This website is dedicated to preserving the memories and images of these prairie churches. We will video and photograph as many churches as we can within the time and resources we have available to us. Hopefully these images can be added to other existing collections. Enjoy the images! Be thankful for what these little prairie churches did for our ancestors. Many of us, their descendants, have benefited greatly from their resolve to overcome adversity and establish their roots in Canada.