St. Oswald’s, Surrey, now has a connection with the Prince Rupert Anglican Coastal Mission, which operated in northern B.C. coastal waters from 1912 to 1958.

The Mission operated two mission ships serving the northern B.C. coastal waters, visiting coastal communities in the Anglican Diocese of Caledonia, One was the Northern Cross, which served the mainland coast visiting coastal communities having no direct land access. Another ship served the Queen Charlotte Islands.

Among the many communities visited were Alice Arm and Anyox, both mining towns on Observatory Inlet, about 140 miles northeast of Prince Rupert.

St. Michael’s mission parish at Alice Arm dated to 1912, and Christ Church at Anyox to 1914, according to Diocese of Caledonia archives. About 25 kilometres south, Anyox was the larger town, at its peak a community of nearly 3,000, with a copper mine and refinery.

In October, 1919 the Anglicans at Christ Church in Anyox donated a wooden font to the new St. Michael’s Anglican Church in Alice Arm, according to a copper engraved plate on the font.

The Rev. Ray Waller blessed a font from Anyox, BC, which now has found a home at St. Oswald’s, Port Kells, Surrey

Anyox was abandoned around 1935. For years the Northern Cross would still bring a minister to Alice Arm for worship services at St. Michael’s until the mine shut down and the mission boats ceased operation in 1958.

The church building at Alice Arm grew into disrepair and gradually was stripped of its pews, the church bell and many other things. It eventually collapsed.

But the minister before leaving gave the church’s wooden font and the small altar cross to Peter and Lily Neilson - the last church members left - to look after and to try to place in a suitable heritage church.

The Neilsons left Alice Arm in 1972. They left the font in their old home. In 1978, their son Phil and his wife Dorine Neilson and their son returned to the area for several years. They took the font back to Langley in 1991.

One day I chanced to meet Dorine. She learned I was a member of St. Oswald’s, and asked if St. Oswald’s, as a heritage church, would like to take custody of the font. St. Oswald’s church committee and the diocese agreed, and in May we showed the font to the congregation.

The wording around the rim of the top of the font is “One Lord One Baptism”. The font cover has been repaired - otherwise it is in very good condition. The most suitable place for the font at St. Oswald’s seemed to be in the sanctuary beside the Bishop’s Chair where it matched the woodwork. A small cross from Anyox was also donated.

I have, at present, no idea of any monitory value of this antique relic but would point out as a matter of interest that St. Oswald’s Church was built in 1911 and the font was in existence in 1919.

St. Oswald’s gives baptism candidates a choice whether to use the original granite font that came over from England in 1911, or the donated Alice Arm font from the British Columbia coast.