For this “then and now” report we travel down to Claresholm Alberta where we look at the Latter-day Saints (LDS) Church located in town. We have an old image, from some sixty years ago, showing the building, and many cool cars parked in front, and we return to it to see what, if anything, has changed since then. Outside of the vehicles parked in front, not a great deal has.
The postcard used for the “then” image was sourced by this author and is undated. However, since at least some of the cars can be IDed (the newest is a 1953), we can guess the photo was taken around the mid-1950s give or take a year.
So far research has not turned up exactly when the church was built but based on the style of construction, the late 1940s or early 1950s, or not long before the postcard image was captured, would be a good guess. It’s not known if there was an earlier church on the same site or if the congregation had a building somewhere else in town which this one then replaced. Or perhaps the building was brand new, the first such church of this faith in town. Hmm, what could it be? Research continues of course and we always welcome input from our readers.
The building architecturally has no real stand out features or design elements. It’s simple, some might say plain, but at the same time is atheistically pleasing in it’s own rights. It has not changed a great deal since the postcard image was shot. The steeple spire is different from one picture to the other and the windows have changed a bit, plus the parking lot has been paved, but otherwise it’s much as it was. Notice, however, how much the trees have grown up since then.
There are lots of cars of interest seen in the postcard. Going left to right (foreground row, fully visible cars only) we see a 1949 Plymouth, an early 1950s Ford, a 1953 Chevrolet and finally a 1939 Ford. The image is too small and I am not sure I’ll be able to successfully ID the cars in the row furthest away, those closest to the church. I’ll keep trying however and as you know, we love to hear from you experts out there. Doubly so if a mistake was made – my car spotting skills are so/so at best, so I probably have. Correct me!
Lots of vehicles from the last decade could be seen on our visit – church was in – but none were remotely interesting. Maybe they will be in sixty years…
The LDS church as it’s known (aka The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – or unofficially The Mormons) has existed in Canada since the 1830s, but it was not until the twentieth century before they established a strong presence here. In Canada, the organization’s roots are in Southwestern Alberta, which is considered in some ways their spiritual centre in this country, much as Utah is for them in the US.
Claresholm was established as a village in the first years of the twentieth century. It became a town not long after and today has a population of some 3700 souls (give or take a few). It is located alongside what was at one time, a busy rail line, the CPR’s MacLeod Subdivision, built in the 1890s, and abandoned in the late 1990s. The old train station remains, which itself is worthy of a report. The ugly dirty snow surrounding it was so awful however that we’ll save documenting it for another day, a warmer, green day. The #2 highway passes right through town.
On this trip we also found a second church in Claresholm which will be the subject of its own then and now report in the not too distant future.
This was the first real outing we’ve done in months and we really enjoyed it. For most of 2014 so far, it’s either been too snowy or too cold to get out (-20c of worse for weeks on end). Those sort of low temperatures are no fun to explore in.
Update: April 2014. Further research has shown that the the church was built in 1954. Our guess was pretty close! The land prior to this was a farm.
If you’d like to know more about what you’ve seen here, by all means contact us!
Date: March, 2014.
Location: Claresholm, AB.