In this article we’ll look at the United Church in Claresholm Alberta, first in the late 1940s or early 1950s and again today. It will be the second house of worship we’ll explore in this town. The original image is from an old postcard and while a number of things have changed in the sixty plus years since then, the building itself is instantly recognizable making the task of lining things up a breeze.
Claresholm is located some 130kms south of Calgary along the #2 highway. Home to a few thousand souls (3700, give or take), the spiritual needs of the community are served by a number of churches, including of course, this one. The building is located just east of downtown and sits kitty-corner to another church. I bet the respective congregations eye each other up every Sunday morning, faulting each other for picking the wrong faith. Battle of the Churches!
The original image is undated but given that we can identify some on the cars, the newest of which are from the late 1940s, we can guess it’s from around that time.
So far, no research has turned up when the church was constructed. However, based on its architectural style, it was likely not terribly old when the original picture was taken. Further research in respects to this is ongoing and I may yet stand corrected (me, make a mistake?).
The building is fairly simple, some might say plain, boring or nondescript. None the less it has some interesting elements, the arched windows for example. There will be those that argue that a house of God should be garish and ornate, but is a humble and unpretentious one any less a church?
Since the first image was captured, a few things have changed. Most noticeably, the steeple differs. The current one is attached to a new addition and is located further out from the main building than the original. Some windows have been covered over, and there has been another addition on the far side the building, widening that part of the structure. These modest changes have not altered the personality of the building much and in many ways it looks much as it did.
The large trees seen in the postcard, that were mentioned earlier, are long gone and have been replaced by a single lonely Spruce. Note the roads back then were gravel.
There are some cars of interest in the original image. The one in the foreground facing us is a 1938 Chevrolet. In the back row, starting from left to right (fully visible cars only) we see a 1949 Ford followed by what I believe is a 1949 Oldsmobile. The picture however is too small to accurately identify both, at least with my limited talents. The second one might also be a Pontiac from the same year – both models have a similar trunk profiles, rear windows, tail lights and bumper guard spacing.
I can’t make out what model the truck is as the limited side view does not give us much to work with.
A BIG disclaimer – my car IDing skills are not the best and it’s certainly possible mistakes in this article have been made. If our readers see one, by all means let us know.
The United Church of Canada dates from the 1920s. It was formed through an amalgamation of several other churches (hence “United” in the name) with the resultant organization becoming the largest Protestant denomination and the second largest Christian-based faith group in the country. Across Canada there are well over three thousand United Church congregations.
Love that gorgeous blue sky seen on our picture. This was the first nice day in months, where there was no snow and the temperatures were not in the basement. Finally, after what seems like an eternity, a nice almost spring-like day.
The postcard was submitted by a reader of this blog (thanks Jim). Who produced it is not known. If you have any old photos where you’d like us to to revisit the location to record a similar image, by all means send them to us. Our contact link is below…
To see another Church we explored in Claresholm, go here…
Claresholm then and now – Latter-day Saints Church.
If you’d like to know more about what you’ve seen here, by all means contact us!
Date: March, 2014.
Location: Claresholm, AB.