One of the oldest churches on the Canadian prairies is St. Andrews. It’s an Anglican (Episcopalian) church in the community of St. Andrews and is situated on the Red River — hence the name, St. Andrews-on-the-Red.
The church is more than 170 years old. In the 1820’s, the stretch of the Red River north of (what is now) Winnipeg was largely settled by former workers of the Hudson’s Bay and Northwest Trading Companies, many of whom were immigrants from the Orkney Islands. Archdeacon W. Cockran established a mission and built a wooden church here in 1831. This wooden church soon became too small to accommodate the congregation and a new stone church was begun in 1844 and completed in 1849. The new church was also designed by Archdeacon Cockran.
The church is of Gothic Revival architecture, a style popular in England in the 19th century. The wood used in its construction came from nearby Bird’s Hill (now a Provincial Park). The stone used in the building came from a quarry a mile or so north of the church.
Unfortunately the church was locked when I visited so I couldn’t peak inside, but I’m told it’s little changed since it was built and has lovely interior features, including beautiful stained glass.
St. Andrew’s Cemetery
Most of the church grounds is a cemetery. Many people who played a role in the Red River Settlement and early Hudson’s Bay Company are buried here, including the church’s founder Archdeacon Cockran.
There are hundreds of gravestones in the cemetery and a marker indicating thousands of other burials lacking monuments. A stone arch near the church is inscribed with the names of those killed during World War I, and was installed in 1922.
The church is recognized as a National Historic site:
“St. Andrew’s Rectory is of national architectural significance because it is a good example of the Hudson Bay style of stone architecture used in the Red River Settlement in the mid-19th century. Built in 1854, it is a two-storey structure with spacious rooms and a central hall plan. The size and prominence of the Rectory indicated the importance of the people who lived there.”
And the view of the Red River is most memorable.
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