This report we’ll be looking at the Zion United Church in historic downtown Moose Jaw Saskatchewan. The building is just over a century old and is architecturally quite impressive. Stunning and beautiful are but a couple words that could describe it. Still used for services today, it’s in fine shape and looks ready to serve for another hundred years.
For this then and now we take an old postcard (sent in by a reader), showing the fine old structure some eighty plus years ago. Let’s revisit the site to see what’s changed…
Not much has as it turns out and as you can see it looks much as is did. Save for of course one very obvious detail, that connected building on the left in the now shot. It’s an addition to the church built in the 1950s. It’s downright plain and uninteresting but its placement to the side is such that you can sort of ignore it. Less obvious changes include the hand-rails added to the front steps at some point and the now missing railings over the front entry. The fire escape of the Hotel Grant Hall, to the right, can be seen in both images. I sure love the old streetlights seen in the old postcard photo.
The building was constructed in 1907, as the Zion Methodist Church and was patterned after a similar building located in Winnipeg Manitoba. BTW, the latter burned down quite some time ago. The Methodists, in 1925, amalgamated with some other church organizations across the country, becoming the United Church of Canada. At the time, it was renamed Zion United.
In the 1970s, some structural problems forced the church to be closed for a time. It was decided to fix the issue and at the same time a restoration was undertaken. As is the case with old buildings, I am sure it still has it share of problems. Who at 100+ years wouldn’t? Visually it looks good. The building has a capacity of 1200 and features some of what I am told are some impressive stained-glass windows. We had no time to tour the inside this visit, and it was too early in the morning anyway, but I’d like to return to see it. It was recognized as a heritage property in the 1980s.
The Zion Church was built in a Romanesque style. This design philosophy is characterized by columns and pillars, arched windows, domed roofs and overall massive feel or presence. It has a prominent field stone foundation.
For our shot we were not able to match the angle of the original postcard image due to a bus blocking the way. We got close though.
Moose Jaw, the forth larges city in Saskatchewan, is home to roughly thirty three thousand people. It’s an odd name for a town, that’s for certain. The historic downtown core it a dream for those who like old buildings like us. We could have spent days there but had to move on. We hope to return.
This postcard used for the “then” image is undated, however since the church is being refereed to as Zion United, we know it was published post 1925. Recall that merger. I’d say the late 1920s is a good bet, based on both the fact that this period was a busy one in the postcard industry (it sort of tanked in the early 1930s) and the old car seen on the left. It looks to be from around that time. I saw this same postcard on Ebay and the seller claims it’s from the 1930s or 1940s, but I’d say they are off a bit.
This postcard is tinted. Simply, it’s a picture shot in black and white that was then later painted with a thin wash to appear as though shot in colour. At the time, before true colour photography became economical enough to use in the industry, this technique was quite commonplace. Hand tinting or hand colouring as it was often called, was used from the early years of the twentieth century to the 1940s or thereabouts.
Writing on the card tells us it was one in series, number 27 out of who knows how many. It was made in England and distributed by a west coast based firm. That company. Camera Products of Vancouver, seems to have been quite active in the industry at one time and a Google image search turns up hundreds of examples of their work. They seemed to be active from the mid-1920s until perhaps the 1950s.
The postcard seen here was sent to us by a reader of this blog – thank you Toni. If you have an old postcard like this and would like us to visit the location seen in it to find out what things looks like today, and then document it all on this blog, let us know. We can accept actual cards (they will get returned) or scanned copies. Contact information can be found below.
Right next to the Zion United Church is an old hotel that also was the subject of an then and now series. Check it out here…
Moose Jaw SK then and now – Hotel Grant Hall .
To see some other churches we’ve explored, follow these links…
Claresholm then and now – Latter Day Saints Church.
St Edmund’s Church Big Valley.
Little Church on the Prairie.
If you wish more information on what you’ve seen here, by all means contact us!
Date of adventure: May, 2014.
Location: Moose Jaw, SK.