Stealing a title from a syrupy sweet TV show from the 1970s, it’s not the little house but rather The Little Church on the Prairie. Located in a charming little village, the Emmanuel Anglican Church seen here is a few years into its second century and while it appears that someone it taking at least some care of it, I get a feeling that it may not be enough over time. Without some additional work it may fall into a state of disrepair, an all too common occurrence for rural churches today.
The church is located in Carmangay Alberta, a town dates from just over a hundred years ago although settlers had populated the area prior to that. The founding of the town coincided with the CPR railway coming through and our little church dates from that era. A report found by this author mentions the cornerstone of the church being laid on Thanksgiving Day 1910 with the first services being held in December of that same year.
There was a congregation prior to the church being built and they held service at the nearby school. The name Emmanuel was given to the parish, a word that means “God with us”.
The building of the church was funded though various channels and with the help of many volunteers and the final bill for construction came in at a whopping $1500.
Now that the needs of the parishioners were served, it was time to help the minister and plans were put in place to build a rectory, and within a few years one was constructed just west of the property. I am not sure if the current building that now sits at that same location is in anyway connected to it, and at the time I was unaware of any possible association and and anyway it was surround by a big fence. The rectory continued to serve in that respect for a number of years but reports from the mid to late 1920s show the presiding minister was living in Vulcan, commuting here each Sunday. This made possible by the improved roads in the area.
During the dark days of the depression the church assisted those in need both with spiritual help and the everyday requirements of life, arranging the distribution of donated food and clothing.
The church celebrated it’s fiftieth year in 1960 with a grand celebration attended by many.
Over the years the building was improved with the addition of electricity, a gas furnace and the original pump organ was replaced with a modern (for the time) electric one.
Outside of spotty information there is little data on what happened to the parish beside what’s been mentioned above. It appears the building served as place of worship through the 1950s and into the 1960s but I have been unable to find when services ended, what the current status of the building is today and so on. One can assume it was closed due to changing demographics and the overall shrinking of the rural population, a fate I am afraid that befell many small town churches.
It does appear that someone is taking rudimentary care of the building but some parts seem a bit neglected. The building itself seems pretty sound, not that I am any sort of building engineer, except for the cross on the roof which seems to be tipping over. The grounds are clearly taken care of but the fence is looking a little rough.
Overall though it’s in better shape than many rural churches I have seen and it’s certainly is a photogenic little building. Its location in town is such that it there is little clutter around, making it a dream to shoot. To the south is open prairie with no fences or other structures to take away from its beauty and on the east side is a giant tree adds to the charm. The simple stained glass windows also helps add to the serenity. I can’t wait to photograph it in some other season other than winter.
A poem by Cyrus E. Albertson
A room of quiet, a temple of peace.
The home of faith, where doubtings cease.
A house of comfort, where hope is given.
A source of strength, to make earth heaven.
A shrine of worship, a place to pray.
I found all this, in my church today.
Next door to the church was an old GMC half ton truck that I did report on, and to read about it, follow this link…
A trio of old trucks.
To see a cool ex Lethbridge Transit GMC “Fishbowl” bus we found in town, click thus link…
The GMC Fishbowl.
If you wish more information on this place, by all means contact us!
Date: February, 2013.
Location: Carmangay, AB.