Cecil Lake is a historical chapel. We meet for worship on the 3rd Sunday of every month at 3pm for a service of Holy Communion.
Coffee and baked goods are available after our service. We hope you would come and join us!
The first real pioneers of the Anglican Church in the North Peace were Miss Hasell and Miss Sayle of “The Caravan Sunday School Mission.” They came to Pouce Coupe in 1928 to scout the area for expansion of their mission. The roads north of the Peace River being impassable for their van, they proceeded on foot, visiting around Fort St. John and as far west as Hudson’s Hope. They found no good roads, no bridges, no churches, schools or hospital but many new settlers with need of a church. The first services were held in settler’s homes or in open fields nearby.
Ten years later, with the money supplied by the Fellowship of the West, the log church at Cecil Lake was erected. The two acres of land on which the Red Cross Hospital and then the church was built was donated by Jim Hill, later the transfer was finalized by Peter and Dorthea Smith when they purchased the land. It was designed by the Reverend Russell Brown, a rector of this parish from 1936-1940. It was named after the Church of St. Matthias, Westmount, Montreal, Quebec from whence the help came.
Building logs were provided by Herman Mair who was there with many others to help with the construction, which was directed by Newton Thompson and the finishing carpenter Harry Downing. The money needed for lumber and the two boss carpenters came from the Fellowship—flooring, roof, trim, windows, doors, Altar, Lecturn, Prayer Desk, Font and Pews. The people of the neighbourhood kept at this building until it was finished. It is known as a community church and is the scene of many weddings and burials of differing Christian denominations.
The brass cross, candle sticks, communion vessels, and the bell were all given in memory of Miss Claxton, the Red Cross nurse who had died while on duty the year before the church was finished from a disease caught from a patient. Under her guidance the hospital had become the medical centre of the district with church services held upstairs in the hospital until the Church was built two years later. The log hospital was built with funds given in memory of Prebebdary Gough of Holy Trinity congregation, London, England. All this ministry he had cared for and worked fro the cause of settlers in far off western Canada. The money was collected by a Society of English people called “Maple Leaf Fellowship”, who helped support the many Anglican Church activities in this area. They supported the missionary Miss Storres who lived and worked in the North Peace for many years. She built and ran The Abbey near Fort St. John, the first boarding school, supplied bales of clothing and some seed grain when crops failed. She spent her productive years here doing for others and when old, returned to England to lecture and raise money for the work she had left behind.
The log church was consecrated in August 1938 by the Right Reverend Bishop Rix of the diocese of Caledonia, Prince Rupert. This was a long way to travel by train via Edmonton and the Northern Alberta Rail Road to Pouce Coupe, end of the line at the time.
After the building of the Alaska Highway it was evident that the Peace River area would never revert to isolation again—it was on the way up with good roads and bridges, hospitals, schools, and an airline. After twenty years of helping this area grow the final action of “The Fellowship of the West” took place. At eight o’clock in the morning, on the 11th of June, 1952 in St. Martin’s Anglican Church in Fort St. John during the feast of St. Barnabas we were notified that the Fellowship was extending its help to other in more need—we were on our own. We in Cecil Lake hope to keep the trust placed in us by those from far away. With your help we can preserve this place of worship started by the Fellowship and serve our community.
During renovations in 1982 the ceiling was insulated and boarded in, electric lights and heaters were installed. The electric lamps were donated by Dolly Cannel in memory of her husband. He had died in Nova Scotia but his ashes are buried in Cecil Lake Cemetery. The electrical work was done free of charge by Bill Nixon who is now buried in Ontario. This beautifully kept building is cared for by members of this congregation and community, as are the grounds around the church and where the hospital once stood.
During the years 2002-2003, further work was done on the church. Log work, a cement foundation, roof repairs, inside chinking, new stain on the logs, ceiling and floor inside were done. Future renovations include outside painting and chinking and some landscaping.