The Canoe United Church is 100 years old as of Oct. 27, 2021. A small celebration and evening service is being held on Oct. 30 to commemorate the occasion. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)

The Canoe United Church is 100 years old as of Oct. 27, 2021. A small celebration and evening service is being held on Oct. 30 to commemorate the occasion. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)

Small celebration to mark 100th anniversary of small Shuswap church

First service was held at Canoe United Church on Oct. 30, 1921

A Canoe landmark turns 100 this month.

As of Oct. 27, a century will have passed since the Canoe United Church opened its doors. According to Canoe resident and church board chair Leanne Dorish, the first service held in the structure at 6861 50th St. NE took place in the late afternoon of Oct. 30, 1921.

Dorish said there was some tension on that day due to uncertainty as to whether the pulpit would be ready in time for the service. However, the congregation was relieved when the pulpit was finished the morning of the 30th.

There shouldn’t be any concerns this Saturday, Oct. 30, when a small celebration is to take place to commemorate the church’s 100 years of service to the community. A service will be held that evening. Dorish said the church’s congregation is hoping to have a larger anniversary party in the new year.

According to Dorish, who also serves as the church’s historian, Reverend John Dinnage Hobden commissioned the church’s construction, which was completed by William H. Ireland for $1,593 in total. That was for a 20-by-30 foot structure including a roof with one-third pitch, two coats of paint, three coats of stain and varnish.

“Our church is bigger than that… I’m assuming that that 20-by-30 is actually just the sanctuary that is standing now,” said Dorish. “The room behind it must have been constructed afterwards, because when I opened one of the broom closets, I could see the outside wall in the back of the closet, which would be the back of the 20-by-30 building.”

The building was initially the Canoe Methodist Church before becoming the Canoe United Church in 1925.

Prior to the building’s construction, interdenominational services were conducted in people’s homes.

The Canoe United Church is included in the City of Salmon Arm’s Heritage Register. The entry notes the building is valued for its “historic, social and cultural significance within the community,” particularly for its association with Hobden who, in 1934, was appointed as the first director of the first branch of the John Howard Society, and who received national fame for his work on prison reform and other social issues. In 1974, Hobden received the Order of Canada.

Dorish’s own family has a long history with the church. Her great-great-grandfather Harry Timpson started its Sunday school in 1921. Dorish, her son and mother are currently part of the church’s congregation.

Dorish said she the took over as board chair and historian from Phyllis Campbell, who she credited for keeping the church going for many years.

“She passed away just before COVID began… She did all of this research, and I’m just sort of keeping it going and doing what I can in her footsteps,” said Dorish, who plans to create a website for the church which has seen its share of services, weddings and other church and community events over the past 100 years.

“Some beautiful things have been done inside those walls, and that’s what I hope the website will share with the rest of the world and community,” said Dorish.

Read more: Shuswap history in pictures: Cold in Canoe

Read more: Thirteen properties added to city heritage register


lachlan@saobserver.net
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