The historic St. Anne’s Church, 407 Wembley Rd. at Church Road in Parksville, is celebrating its 124th anniversary on July 21.
Tours of the church are available every Tuesday until Aug. 28 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with a guide on hand to answer questions.
The anniversary celebration on Saturday, July 21 will include a pageant featuring stories about Florence Cheney Parks and three of her old timer friends, presented by present-day St. Anne’s parishioners in period costume.
Florence Warrener had first arrived in Parksville in 1893, when the area boasted only 30 settlers with their families, according to a news release from St. Anne’s. Throughout her life, Florence had been an active part of the growing pains and achievements of the little settlement. More especially, she had become important in the lives of the people who lived there, particularly those people who had been among the earliest settlers.
The single 29-year-old daughter of an English clergyman was anxious to marry her fiancé, George Cheney, who had preceded her to “the colonies” by four full years in order to carve out a homestead for her, prior to her arrival.
“We went through the woods – it was all woods then – and came to a shake shack. There wasn’t even a floor. It was just black earth,” Florence said in a story from the Anglican Parish of St. Anne & St. Edmund. “There was a bunk in one corner and a table littered with bachelor’s belongings in another. In the middle of the room was a huge log. I just sat on that log and cried.”
Eventually two little girls were born in that cabin which had in time become a home. Unfortunately, only three years after his marriage to Florence, George was diagnosed with a terminal illness. The family decided to return to England.
George died in England a few months later, his daughters still toddlers.
Three years later, the future of Florence and her little family took an unexpected turn. She inexplicably packed up her two small girls and set off on the tedious journey back across the Atlantic Ocean to Quebec City and from there back to Parksville.
Now, 125 years after Florence arrived to that little shake shack in the wilderness, the Parish of St. Anne and St. Edmund will be celebrating the 124th anniversary of little log St. Anne’s Church.
A strawberry tea will follow the performance in the adjacent St. Edmund’s Church Hall.
Everyone is welcome, but space is limited. Further information and tickets for this event can be obtained from the church office at 250-248-3114 or at http://staste.ca/.