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Chilliwack’s St. Thomas' Anglican Church, celebrating its 150th birthday in 2023, began unofficially as St. Mark’s in the gold rush town of Port Douglas at the northern tip of Harrison Lake. Completed by Royal Engineers in 1859, a few short years later, the gold rush route was changed, and Port Douglas became a ghost town. The abandoned St. Mark’s was offered to the new community of Chilliwack, seventy miles south, provided that the building could be moved.

In a 1965 interview with longtime Chilliwack resident Nellie Patriquin, she related that members of the Haida nation of the Queen Charlotte Islands (now Haida Gwaii) were hired to move the disassembled church on six lashed-together canoes. Haida canoes were considered the most capable of successfully weathering the ocean voyage. The seventy-mile trip south required excellent steersmen, travelling the length of Harrison Lake, along Harrison River, down and across the Fraser, to manage a pinpoint landing at the bottom of Wellington St. in Chilliwack.

November 1873 saw the church from Port Douglas, renamed St. Thomas’ Anglican was the first building at the Five Corners in the town centre. The original St. Mark’s church was constructed of materials shipped from England. A reconstructed St. Thomas’ of local Douglas fir, red cedar, and maple in an upside down “Noah’s ark” style, was completed by December 1897, and except for the replacement of the church steeple and bell in 1964 following a 1962 fire, and the addition of a balcony in the mid-1990s, the church is unchanged from the original reconstruction. The bell damaged in the fire is today housed on the church grounds.

As the city population grew, the central lands occupied by St. Thomas became too valuable from a real estate perspective to support a noncommercial building. The land was sold at a healthy profit and once the telephone and electricity overhead cables were temporarily lowered the church was moved intact to its present location a few blocks away. The incredibly complex move took three weeks and the church, which is still very much a centre-of-town landmark, held the first service at its new site on August 8, 1909.

Looking to the future of St. Thomas and what it means to the people of the parish brings some focus to the past ten years since the 140th anniversary. So much has happened in that short space of time, with St. Thomas continuing to grow, maintaining a thriving, spirit-led focus. Many in the congregation have died in those ten years, but new parishioners have arrived to keep the church flourishing. As the current membership of the parish look forward to the next decade and beyond, they see only good things for the church and continued spiritual growth in love and the grace of God.

The church is well established as a heritage landmark beloved by the community, and moving forward after COVID the parish continues to offer a welcoming place of worship and fellowship to all members of the Chillliwack community who wish to connect with God and each other in this serene and inclusive house of worship.

Artible submitted by Gail Hampson

Sesquicentennial (150th Anniversary) Happenings at St. Thomas Chilliwack

Submitted by Lori Martin, Interim-Priest-in-Charge, St. Thomas, Chilliwack

A committee was formed to work together to mark and celebrate this sesquicentennial at St. Thomas. The committee filled up quickly and got to work planning ways to celebrate; historical documents to be combed through, fundraising for events, celebration dinner menu and guest list, a photo history PowerPoint, and a special Sunday liturgy with Bishop John Stephens.

A few happenings completed and pending:
  • 150th Anniversary church BBQ & picnic at the beautiful Gwynne Vaughn Park in July.  A wonderful time of playing lawn games, BBQing burgers and dogs, sharing salads, and visiting in the shade in lawn chairs was had by all. Especially fun was the croquet, bocci, and the bean bag toss!
  • A fundraising raffle for 2 ‘local fare’ baskets is underway to assist with celebration expenses! As well, 50+ Home-made Pies are selling like ‘hotcakes’ – pumpkin pies in time for Thanksgiving and apple pies are next!
  • The Narthex displays PAST, PRESENT, and FUTURE interactive booths with many historic photos covering the walls. A photo album corner is created as a lovely place to rest and enjoy the photos.
  • The Celebration Dinner is on Saturday, November 18, beginning at 4pm with an Open House to tour the historical building. Long time parishioners will be available to share stories. Signs fill the walls and furnishings to ‘show & tell’ the interesting and astonishing details of the building and history. At 5:30 drinks will be served in the hall with dinner at 6pm. Dignitaries and clergy from the community are invited including Bishop John Stephens who will be attending. This year, 2023 is also the City of Chilliwack’s and the RCMP’s 150thThe Anniversary Sunday Service has Bishop John Stephens presiding with special music and coffee time planned for Sun. Nov. 19. Worship at 10am


Members of the Sesquicentennial Committee:  Back row: Jan Guretzki, Deb Edwards; Second row: Marlene Rodger,
the Reverend Lorie Martin Front: Gail Hampson
Photo Darren Buckley


  • Promotional poster
  • Making the pies
  • Baking the Pies
  • The narthex display
  • The raffle tickes.