Pioneer stories about the Despards, Kincades, Bagshaws and others will be part of a Victorian Tea at the historic Anglican parish of St. Anne and St. Edmund on Saturday, July 25.
For more than a century, the little log church behind Wembley Mall has stood as a symbol of the faith, determination and courage of the early pioneers of this area.
Reverend Andrew Twiddy said St. Anne’s is probably the most photographed building in Parksville.
“Many people drive by St. Anne’s everyday. I hear people say they have seen the outside and always wanted to know what it looks like on the inside,” he said.
In fact this summer St. Anne’s Church is open on Tuesday evenings from 2 to 5 p.m. and Twiddy is inviting people to come and learn the history of Parksville’s pioneers.
“It is the oldest public building in the whole district and it is beautiful and charming,” he acknowledged and added: “it is there for the whole community and I want everyone to get a chance to see it because it is part of our common history.”
The first church to be built between Nanaimo and Comox St. Anne’s history began in 1893. Twiddy said in July they like to commemorate the anniversary of the church with a special Strawberry Tea.
He said the event includes a delicious dessert served by ladies in costume in the St. Edmund church hall from 1 to 4 p.m. at a cost of $12.
He said at 1:15 and 3 p.m. they will have people dressed in costume re-enacting stories about the pioneers in the old log church.
The church which was built in 1894 traces many local pioneers and their history.
Twiddy said one of their members who is involved with the historical society has put together eight vignettes of the pioneers whose burial plots are in the St. Anne’s cemetery and they give a glimpse into what life what was like back then.
“We have photos of the pioneers that go back over 100 years and information on who they are and where they came from,” he said.
Historical records show that the first work bee to clear the site was held on April 17, 1894 and from then on rapid progress was made.
Logs were hauled from the bush by teams of oxen borrowed from nearby farmers. On June 24, the walls were raised with eight men squaring the corners; Richard P. Wallis, James Lowery, James Dunn, Otto Renz, W. Cheney, W. McKenzie, John McKinnon and B. Harris.
Among others at the raising were Canon Cooper, Thomas Kinkade and Mr. Gaetzen. Cooper had promised free burial plots to all those who assisted with the construction.
The parish records also show that the first baptism in St. Anne’s was for Emily Jane Hume, daughter of Robert Hume and Charlot Emily Hickey, on August 12, 1894. The first wedding united Thomas Kinkade of Little Qualicum and Sarah Coqulamat on October 24, 1896.
The tea goes from 1-4 p.m. on Saturday, July 25 at 407 Wembley Rd. in Parksville.