By: Chris Parker
A small lilac tree was to be installed after the Sunday morning service to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of this, one of the oldest buildings in McBride. It was first used as a Methodist, then a single point United Church (St.Paul’s United Church since 1925) and later a double point (Valemount/McBride United Church) and later still as an Anglican/United Church.
Originally constructed on the property that now houses the Centennial Elementary School, the building was later moved to its Dominion Street location. In her 2008 edition of the history of the Robson Valley entitled The Robson Valley Story, (P95 Chapter entitled Foxtails on Main Street) Marilyn Wheeler speaks of the transient nature of many of the initial buildings. Indeed Mathew Wheeler has spoken several times of the evolution of the town of McBride and that one of the Church neighbours was actually a tent version of a ‘house of ill repute’ (a bordello) during the construction period of McBride in the early 1900’s – located only a short distance down Dominion Street from what is now the Anglican/United Church. Indeed Wheeler noted in a 2013 interview that virtually all the buildings in McBride were transitory and were frequently moved or re-purposed as time and needs changed the ongoing needs of the community
Sherry Wiltsie, a long time Anglican, came to McBride to work for the Forestry Department in 1984/85 and there met and married Roger Wiltsie. She chose the then-United Church (it became the home for the combined ministries of the Anglican/United Church in 1986) and served as a Licensed Lay Reader there until recently. Sherry advised that the original appeal of St.Paul’s United Church was that at that time it housed the largest and most active Sunday School and Youth Program in McBride.
The Parishes largest outreach for many years was the community-wide Harvest Festival, or as some would call it Thanksgiving held in early October each Year. This event was originally held in the old methodist church building (now used as a church hall) where it catered to three crowded sittings of turkey et al. In more recent years this same facility annually houses the summer arrival of a large group of Texas University students trekking on bicycle. The upstairs portion of the church hall (the former church) now houses the popular Thrift Store.