It’s not easy to find the small Alberta town of Markerville on a map, but you’d be charmed by it as I was when I visited. The most memorable building in Markerville is this simple but pleasing church.
Markerville was established by Icelandic immigrants who arrived in Alberta via the United States in the late 19th century, and grew to a thriving (if small) community. After hiring a full-time minister in 1905, the residents decided they needed a church. Local farmers brought their tools and began the work of building their house of worship in 1906. Most Icelandic people at the time were Lutheran, so it makes sense they would build a Lutheran church.
The foundation was made of sandstone quarried in the Red Deer River and the timber came from Innisfail. The church is small, measuring about 12 x 7 meters, and has a bell tower on its front (south) entrance. It was opened in the spring of 1907, the only Icelandic Lutheran church in Alberta and a gathering point for Icelandic people living in that region. As the town’s population declined with the passing years, so did attendance at the church; the last worship service was held in 1963.
The church received historical designation in 2007 and it was refurbished shortly thereafter. It had suffered effects of local weather, including hail damage to its stained glass windows and roof, and had a sagging floor, but today all is repaired and in good order. The church is open for visitation and exploration during the summer months and I found it quite interesting to look around inside. For example, I don’t think I’ve ever been to a church that had lace curtains on its windows before — a nice European touch.
The Markervillle church has become a popular place for summer-time weddings and can accommodate about 100 people.
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