If you’ve driven the Crowsnest Highway, also known as Highway #3, through the Crowsnest Pass, you’ve perhaps noticed the “Little Church” in Bellevue on the north side of the road. Or maybe you missed it, it is after all quite small. This is the Back to God Chapel, aka Wayside Chapel, a roadside attraction that draws in more camera toting tourists and travelers, people curious to take in the charms of this tiny building, then those in need of a spiritual recharge.
Constructed in the early 1960s, the building has not always sat at this same location. The exact spot where it was prior, before it was placed here in the early 1980s, has not been determined as of yet but we’re pretty sure it was close by. If you know, please message us. NOTE, both the then photos we have show it BEFORE the move and therefore we were not able to duplicate our shots exactly. But we still tried to keep the same angles at least (you know we like to get as close as possible, we’re just that way).
I understand there is seating for fourteen inside. If you’re all relatively small and all good friends that is, and don’t mind close quarters. I could barely fit in one pew designed for two. The ceiling is low, so duck on entry.
The church is simply decorated, but then it’s not about that anyway. I guess at one time the windows in the church were green – a rudimentary stained glass look maybe – check out that one old picture to see. Inside there is a guest book you can sign.
The first old image is from a postcard found on Ebay. There is no date on it but the seller believes it was from the 1960s. Works for me.
The second then photo, that lovely GREEN one, is from Weston Langford and is used with permission. He’s a well known train photographer, although he shot other stuff too as evidenced by this photo. Sadly he passed away recently.
If you have an old photo or postcard, your copyright or in the public domain (most postcards are) that shows a street scene or building of historical interest and would like us to use it as fodder for one of our trademark “then and now” posts, by all means send it to us. We’ll visit the site seen and document how it looks today. Real photos/card or scans are both acceptable.
Recall, the church has been moved between the time the old shots were captured and now. Since then it’s been resided (a HERCULEAN project I bet) and the formerly arched windows have been modified with a peak style.
Seen from the church window is a “little hill” we’ve climbed, the legendary Turtle Mountain. It was the site of a disastrous landslide in 1903 that nearly wiped out the town of Frank, that sat below the peak. The huge scar from that event can be clearly seen on the mountain’s north facing flanks.
The town of Bellevue was founded over a hundred years ago. Like many other communities in the Pass, it was coal that brought about its existence. There is no more mining in the area, although it may return, and instead the local economy relies on tourism and such to pay the bills. Bellevue and all the other towns in the Pass (lots of them) were amalgamated into the Municipality of the Crowsnest Pass in the 1970s.
Not terribly far away is this old ruin…
Crowsnest River walk and Hillcrest-Mohawk Collieries plant.
If you wish more information on what you’ve seen here, by all means contact us!
Date: September, 2014.
Location: Crowsnest Pass (Bellevue), AB.