MARY'S GENEALOGY TREASURES
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History of St. Thomas'
Anglican Church

by Rev. Rodney Andrews for the Cardston
Historical Society June 1977
"Chief Mountain Country" pages 188 - 189

Anglican services began in Cardston about 1906-07. They were held in the Presbyterian Church by the Revs. J. S. Chivers and D. Jones who came down from Lethbridge. The establishing of the Anglican Church in Cardston was the immediate result of an appeal by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York in 1910. This appeal, held in England, led to the formation of 'The Archbishops' Western Canada Fund' whose council commissioned the Rev. W. H. Mowat to organize mission stations in the southern part of Alberta between the Crow's Nest Line and the International Boundary. The work was to be done by an 'Associated Mission' or Brotherhood. A beginning was made in the first week of September 1910 by the Head of the 'Archbishops' Southern Alberta Mission,' Mr. Mowat, and his lay colleague Mr. S. M. Morgan. In the course of their reconnaissance Cardston was reached on Friday October 14th and a call was made on the Presbyterian minister who reported practically no Anglican families in the town. Next morning two or three individual Anglicans were interviewed without much encouragement and the Archbishops' men continued on their way next morning.

Within the next few days a requisition signed by several Churchmen reached the missionaries who were asked to supply services in Cardston and were assured of support. To deal with this call from Cardston a further visit was paid on Thursday October 27th, 1910. Several individuals in town were interviewed, a meeting was held on Saturday night and the first services were held on Sun- day, October 30th. Two services, with a total attendance of 34, were held by the courtesy of the local Masonic Lodge in their Hall on Main Street, at hours that did not conflict with the services of the Presbyterian Church. The information given by the Presbyterian minister was found to be misleading; the number of Church people seemed to be considerable; the promise of financial sup- port was encouraging. At first the missionaries travelled from their temporary headquarters on the Dry Fork between Fishburn and Ewelme. The interest in Cardston was maintained, a movement was set on foot by the laymen of the congregation to start a Church Building Fund, and at the beginning of March the development of the work prompted the senior missionary, Rev. W. H. Mowat, to make Cardston his base. After a month's boarding out, an old log shack west of the Mormon tabernacle was fitted up as a bachelor's residence and as headquarters for the Southern Alberta Mission.

On March 13, 1911 a site on Ist Street West was purchased. A Church, 20 ft. x 36 ft. with a sanctuary 10 ft. x 8 ft. and a vestry of same dimensions, was completed and dedicated by the Anglican Bishop of Calgary, the Right Reverend Cyprian Pinkham. This service was held on Sunday, June 23rd, 1912 and the Bishop named the Church St. Thomas. In September 1911 a ladies Guild was established, later affiliated to the Women's Auxiliary. The minister writes that the ladies 'soon proved their usefulness!' A Sunday School was also established. There were two missionaries resident in Cardston and in mid-November, 1911 they moved to more comfortable and convenient quarters in a small bungalow built by mission funds on a site comprising four lots in the Barker sub-division of Cardston, generously given by Mr. E. N. Barker, J.P. The first lay officers of St. Thomas' Church, Cardston were E. N. Barker, J. P. and H. B. Stacpoole, M.D., the Church Wardens.

During the first 'Great War', 1914-18, the missionaries in Cardston left, one by one, to offer themselves in the war effort. The withdrawal of the missionaries were intended to be a temporary necessity, but the ravages of war and needs in England totally disrupted the Mission. At one time, early in the war, there had been 8 priests, 2 lay brothers, and a layreader in the Cardston Mission Community. It is uncertain when the last missionary was transferred. Services were always carried on in Cardston, sometimes by clergy from other parts of the Southern Alberta Mission, but the absence of resident priests brought an inevitable decline in Church life. St. Paul's School, Blood Reserve, was moved from the north end of the Reserve to a point seven miles from Cardston in 1924. Thereafter the priest-principal, Canon Samuel H. Middleton (later Archdeacon Middleton) conducted services in St. Thomas' Church, Cardston until his retirement in 1951. Archdeacon Middleton was a resident of Cardston and district for over forty years and was highly respected and greatly loved.

In 1958 St. Thomas' Church was moved to a new site in Standoff and Anglican services continued in Cardston at St. Paul's Church, which had been moved from St. Paul's School to land east of the Blood Indian Hospital. St. Thomas' Church, which had served Cardston Anglicans for many years, was destroyed by fire

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Mary Tollestrup