Table of Contents

 

Canada – West

 

In this section, we consider the western provinces of British Columbia and Yukon.

 

British Columbia

 

Victoria and Vancouver Island

 

The first assembly in British Columbia, and perhaps the entire Pacific northwest, began meeting in 1887 in a private home on Kings Road in Victoria, Vancouver Island.

 

Victoria Gospel Hall was established by 1888 on Blanshard Street. Brethren from Scotland and England started the assembly; these were the families of A.J. Woodward, W.C. Petticrew, Andrew Davidson, H.E. Munday, and Messrs. McKenzie and Allan. One of the first evangelists to visit the assembly was Alexander Marshall, who came in 1889. Among those who have played leading roles in the assembly are Raymond McDonald, Edwin Munday, John Stewart, N.J. Caufield, Fred Bowen, W.H. Marlow, J. Daniels, David Wallace, Bill Hamilton, and Walter Carter.

 

By 1931, the assembly was meeting at 935 Pandora Avenue, having purchased and remodeled a large building. Seating in the auditorium could accommodate about 300 people. The name was changed to Victoria Gospel Chapel in 1967.

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A Sunday School was begun in 1911 in the Galloway home in the Oaklands district of Victoria. Within a year, Gospel services as well as the Sunday School were being conducted each week in rented space over the stores at the corner of Cedar Hill Road and Hillside Avenue. Those involved in this effort – including the Galloway, J. Thomson, H. Hopkins, W. Swetnam, and R. Smart families from Victoria Gospel Hall – decided to form a new  assembly. Its first Remembrance Meeting took place on Easter Sunday in April 1913. By the next year, Oaklands Gospel Hall was built at 2815 Cedar Hill Road.

 

Steady growth followed, particularly in the 1920s and 1930s. In 1954 the assembly had 150 in fellowship and a large Sunday school. The old hall was overcrowded, so the assembly purchased property at 2736 Fernwood Road. By March 1957, the new Oaklands Chapel was completed and occupied. Today the assembly has about 250 adults in fellowship, with 120 children. Elders over the years include J. Thomson, F. Hamilton, H. Hopkins, P. Smart, D. Easton, and R. Powell.

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Lewis Speller started a Sunday School in a little store at the corner of Marigold Road and Interurban Road in the Marigold district of Victoria. He put benches in the back of his truck and faithfully drove around the district to pick up any children who were interested in coming.

 

As an outreach of Victoria Gospel Chapel, the Sunday School moved into the Marigold Scout Hall and functioned there for many years. An adult Bible class was added to the Sunday School work  In order to bring the children in, a bus was chartered to drive around the area, and Mr. Speller continued to use his truck. Hundreds of children heard the message of salvation, and many parents also.

 

Another outreach in the Marigold district was a Sunday evening Gospel meeting, also held in the Scout Hall. Some people from the neighborhood attended those meetings regularly. On one of his visits to Victoria, Stan Beasley, a pioneer missionary in Newfoundland, encouraged the brethren who were carrying on the Marigold work to form a building fund with the goal of establishing an assembly.

 

In cooperation with the brethren at Victoria Chapel, plans were made to build a chapel on Brunswick Place near the Colquitz Junior Secondary School. The brethren spent many hours working together to complete Westview Gospel Chapel. In September 1962, the building was completed enough for meetings to begin. Twenty five believers Remembered the Lord in the first meeting. Sid Biggs, Joe Gilmore, Lewis Speller, and Gordon Roberts were the prime movers in establishing the new assembly.

 

A Ladies Coffee Hour was a means of Gospel outreach to neighborhood ladies. Vacation Bible Schools and a vigorous youth program were a part of the work of Westview Gospel Chapel. The building was enlarged in 1975, and about 130 were in fellowship in the late 1970s. Hospital visitation programs have marked recent years. Others in leadership at Westview have been George Douberoff, Doug Relf, Joe Taylor, Eldred Williams, Steve Miller, Henry Loewes, Enoch Johnson, Brad Cameron, Carl Schulz, Phil Townshend, and Alex Yashuk. About 50 are in fellowship today, plus about 20 children.

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The Ross Bay Gospel Hall in Victoria commenced in 1947 as an outreach of Victoria Gospel Hall the result of Sunday school and Gospel testimony work for many years in that district. Bethesda Gospel Chapel was another hive-off from Victoria Gospel Hall. The Bethesda and Ross Bay assemblies amalgamated in the early 1980s to become the Oak Bay Gospel Assembly.

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In the early 1950s, Harry Penman, living in the Gordon Head area of Victoria, began a Sunday School work in the Gordon Head Community Hall on Tyndall Avenue. In this he had the blessing of the elders at Oaklands Chapel, where he was in fellowship. John Jenner helped him, and later took over the work. This ministry was carried out until the mid 1960s.

 

In about 1964, five couples from Oaklands Chapel felt it was time to expand this ministry into a full church ministry, with an outreach to the adults and families of the growing Gordon Head area. In 1965 they rented a small building on the corner of Hawthorne and Majestic in Victoria and began to meet regularly as University Chapel.

 

In 1969, the Christians bought property on Feltham Road in Victoria, and at about the same time invited John Williams from Detroit to full-time ministry at the assembly. During this period, the assembly at University Chapel moved from their rented quarters and merged with Quadra Bible Chapel which had started in March 1953 in a new building. The name of the merged assemblies was University Chapel at Quadra.

 

Construction on the Feltham Road property began in 1973, and the finished building was occupied later that year. The assembly then called itself Lambrick Park Church. Growth was rapid and in 1978, a group hived off to establish Saanichton Bible Fellowship (see below). John Williams moved to Vancouver in 1979, and Dennis Clark and Stan Kelly, both of them elders and retired missionaries, shared the full-time responsibility for the teaching and preaching ministry for the next two years. In 1981, Tom Cowan was brought on as a full-time worker.

 

Average Sunday morning attendance is about 1700 between two morning services and an evening service for young adults. Located about five minutes from the University of Victoria, the church has many students. Children’s ministries is an important part of the church. Lambrick Park Church has several full-time staff.

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In 1941, a new assembly was established at the Sidney Gospel Hall on 5th Street in the town of Sidney, just north of Victoria. Messrs. Lyon and Rashleigh were among the elders. The assembly later took the name Sidney Bible Chapel.

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Saanichton Bible Fellowship is an amalgamation of Sidney Bible Chapel and those who left Lambrick Park Church to establish a new work. Today about 150 are in fellowship in the Saanichton assembly.

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North of Victoria on Vancouver Island is the town of Duncan. Starting at the beginning of 1921 and continuing for several months, a series of Gospel meetings were held in the Odd Fellows Hall in Duncan, with well known speakers such as W.M. Rae of Portland, OR; G.L. Hunt of Yakima, WA; Peter Smart of Victoria; and others. In summers, the Gospel meetings were transferred to a tent at Maple Bay.

 

The Duncan Gospel Hall on Duncan Street opened in January 1923, a separate rented building ‘between the Cowichan Creamery and Duncan Coal Depot, opposite Freight Shed.’ Its founders and leaders for many years were H. Corfield, C. Butcher, H.A.H. Rice, B. A. Rice, G. S. Dobbie, and S.K.B. Rice. The assembly continued there for several years, with tent meetings and picnics at Maple Bay during the summers. In 1930, a new Cedar Hall was built on Brae Street, and the first meeting there took place in September 1930.

 

Over the many years since then, the assembly had many special speakers such as Walter Ainslee of Liverpool, England, John Smart of Victoria, and C.O. Bowen of Vancouver. At some point, the name of the meeting place was changed to Brae Road Gospel Chapel. Other elders of the assembly over the years include Steve Saunders, Huron Sheppard, Harvey Lowe, Sid Biggs, Paul Brammall, and Terry Ryan. About 70 are in fellowship at Brae Road, which has a large Awana program. Several missionaries have been commended to the Lord’s service.

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North from Duncan ten miles, a small Chemainus Assembly met in that town for a time. Ten miles farther north, the Ladysmith As­sembly of some 30 believers existed in the 1950s.

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Twelve miles north of Ladysmith is Nan­aimo, where one of the oldest assemblies in British Columbia met. In 1904, a small gathering of believers met in the home of Mr. and Mrs. R. Marshall in Irwin Street in Nanaimo. Will Rae, a traveling salesman from Vancouver, initiated the meeting for Remembering the Lord and for Bible study. The families of Sandy Stewart, James Cochrane, Robert Lindsay, Leslie Richmond, and others were involved in the beginning of the Nanaimo assembly.

 

For a time, the believers rented a Finnish assembly hall in Nanaimo. Later they purchased the building and named it Victoria Road Gospel Hall. The assembly numbered about 60 in the 1950s. At one time, Sunday School attendance reached 250 students. As the Sunday School grew, the brethren excavated a basement on the property, then added above-ground rooms for the Sunday School and youth programs. The believers built and moved into the Wakesiah Gospel Chapel on Wakesiah Avenue in 1975, their present location. Robert Burns is commended as a full-time worker for the assembly, and was for a time the executive director of Camp Imadene. About 100 adults and children are in the assembly today.

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Further north on Vancouver Island is Lathom Road Gospel Hall in Port Alberni, which began in about 1890 as the Helen Street Gospel Hall, its location until 1968. The beginnings of the assembly are lost, although correspondence with Mr. Monypenny is dated in the 1890s. Correspondence with J.J. Rouse dated 1909, shows his concern for the assembly. About 40 adults and children attend Lathom Road Gospel Hall.

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Courtenay is a good-sized town 50 miles north of Nanaimo. A.W. Rigler and Arthur Stewart, who had been in fellowship in Victoria assemblies, moved to Courtenay in the spring of 1920. Meetings started in the Rigler home as early as 1921. In the early to mid 1920s, Charles Bowen came with his Gospel Car and two young men; these built Elim Hall in Courtenay on 4th Street for the small assembly of Christians.

 

In the 1950s, a larger building was built at 566 Fifth Street, the current location of Elim Gospel Chapel. At that time there were some 80 believers in fellowship, with children’s works in two other locations.

 

Those responsible for the establishment of Elim Hall, in addition to the Rigler and Stewart families, were Mr. and Mrs. Pearce, and Mrs. Smith, and their families. Messrs. Rigler, Stewart, Burns, Pearce, Carter, and Murray were some of the early elders. A military airbase in nearby Comox supplies an ever-changing population to the assembly. The active assembly has a large Sunday School with 22 teachers, and has purchased a nearby house to accommodate the needs of the growing work.

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Camp Imadene on Mesachie Lake near Duncan was established in about 1920 and is supported mainly by the assemblies on Vancouver island. It is the most important outreach on the Island. Thousands of children have been at the camp and many have gone out as misionaries.

 

 

City of Vancouver and Environs

 

The city of Vancouver was established soon after the Canadian Pacific Railway agreed to put its terminus in the area in 1884. The city grew rapidly in the 1890s during the Klondike Gold Rush.

 

In 1897, James Rae, then 25 years old and a son of John Rae Sr., an evangelist working in Manitoba and North Dakota, arrived in Vancouver to open a shoe store. He soon found other believers of like mind, and the small group formed an assembly in 1898. These included Harry Douglas, Alex Anderson, and William Woods and their wives, along with James Rae.

 

Others soon joined with the Vancouver Assembly, including James Rae’s wife who arrived from Winnipeg, Mr. Murchie, Mrs. Jess, Mrs. Miller, Mr. and Mrs Alex Matthews Jr., and Mr. John Currie. Messrs. Swain and Parnell came for a few months and stayed until a new assembly was formed in New Westminster on the southeast side of Greater Vancouver.

 

The original Vancouver Assembly met first in an upstairs room above Harvey’s store at Hastings Street and Westminster Road. Next they met on Cordova St. above a meat market; then in an upstairs room on Cordova Street near Cambie Street, and then later to an undertaker’s parlour on Granville Street.

 

People arrived in the city daily from England, Eastern Canada, and the Prairies. It was not unusual for several ‘Letters of Commendation’ to be read on Lord’s Day mornings, and the assembly grew rapidly. Soon, larger quarters were needed, and Mr. Muncie from the Victoria Gospel Hall built a large Seymour Street Gospel Hall for the believers, at 1181 Seymour Streeet, and this became the meeting place for many years. Most of the traveling Brethren evangelists of the day preached at the early Vancouver/Seymour Street Assembly.

 

The Seymour Street Gospel Hall moved in 1947 from its downtown location to a residential section about three miles west at Sixteenth and MacDonald and took the name 16th & MacDonald Gospel Hall. Since then it has become known as the Sixteenth Avenue Gospel Chapel. Others in early leadership, in addition to those mentioned above, were Gordon Budd, Stanley Budd, Harold Summers, Ronald Sellers, and Leslie Richmond. Since then, Geofferey Lloyd, William Cummings, Leslie Jones, Clem Aitken, Ernie Peters, Harold Diewert, Samuel Gilmour, Robert Shannon, Eric Peterson, Teus Kappers, Jim Hathaway, Jay Levielle, Harold Summers Jr., and Harold Budd have shared leadership of the assembly. Several have been commended to the Lord’s work. About 120 adults are in fellowship, with 40 children.

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At least twenty of the Seymour Street Assembly had settled in the Cedar Cottage district south of Vancouver, an area then having no convenient transportation to Seymour Street Assembly. Prayer meetings, Bible Readings, and a Sunday School were established by the believers living there in the early years of the first decade of the twentieth century.

 

The brethren at Seymour Street were praying about the formation of a new assembly in the Cedar Cottage district since about 200 were in fellowship at Seymour at that time. James Rae offered the use of a lot he owned on Kingsway (then called Westminster Road), and Thomas Miller built a Gospel Hall there in 1909. This became known as the Cedar Cottage Assembly, which had about 26 in fellowship at its beginning. These included Charles Hillman, Thomas Miller, John Burr, Horace Oliver, James McConnell Sr., Matthew Mawhinney, and their families. Many others came to live in the area in the next few years and joined the fellowship, including Charles Summers and Frank Goff and their families.

 

Hundreds of children began attending the Sunday School at the Gospel Hall even in its first year, and an addition was soon built to accommodate them. One class met in the home of Frank Goff. In the next few years, Sunday Schools were held in other homes and in rented stores.

 

A portable wooden tent was constructed in 1911 and used for evangelism by David Scott, J. J. Rouse, and others for many years, with many persons saved.

 

In 1912, a larger Hall was built nearby on Welwyn Street for the Cedar Cottage Assembly. Also in that year, the assembly commended C. S. Summers to full time service for the Lord. From 1913 on, the assembly has held conferences almost yearly at Thanksgiving time. Street meetings were a feature of the assembly. A ‘Gospel Car’ was used to carry the Gospel to different parts.

 

Elders in the early years at Cedar Cottage Assembly included John Burr, John Bell, George Vout, Frank Willox, John Dennis, John Morgan Sr., Alex Bryson, and Frank Goff. Many others have served in leadership since that time. In 1931, the assembly commended Hector Alves to full time service for the Lord.

 

The Cedar Cottage Assembly was active after World War II, having about 175 in fellowship then. It had a thriving Sunday school work about two miles north at First and Nanaimo in a prefabricated building. In 1957, the assembly built and occupied the new Victoria Drive Gospel Hall a few blocks away.

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In 1921, an assembly was formed at the Fairview Gospel Hall on 10th Avenue just west of Granville, made up of some saints from the Seymour Street Assembly. James Rae was a leader there and had a great zeal for the spread of the gospel. The Fairview assembly was active in holding gospel meetings. Aabout 80 believers met there in 1954.

 

In 1928, they rented a building at 14th Avenue and Woodland Drive where Thomas Black and Herb Harris held fruitful Gospel meeting for nine weeks. Later Cecil Copp bought the building. A large Sunday School was built up and gospel meetings were held on Sunday nights. In 1955, an assembly was formed there and called the Woodland Drive Assembly.

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In 1932, Arthur Rae and other brethren from the Fairview assembly began a children’s work in the home of Mrs. McBride. The following year, Hector Alves pitched his tent nearby. James Rae and Herb Harris operated the tent the following summer. Then a store building at 61st Avenue and Main Street was rented and used for gospel meetings. Many souls trusted Christ during those years. The brethren soon built a Hall at 60th Avenue and Main Street and the South Main Street Assembly was formed. The Sunday School had 100 children in 1954 and 135 believers in fellowship.

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Some of the South Main Street Assembly brethren were very active in gospel outreach and one of these efforts eventually resulted in an assembly being formed in west Richmond in 1959. The assembly grew large, had an active gospel outreach, and built and occupied the large West Richmond Gospel Hall.

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Another gospel outreach of the South Main Street brethren was in Deep Cove. This work also prospered and resulted in the formation of the Deep Cove Assembly in 1960.

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In 1912, there were three assemblies in the Vancouver area – the Seymour Street, Cedar Cottage, and New Westminster assemblies. At that time, a split occurred in the Seymour assembly on the issue of the ‘open table,’ the principle where any believer of clean life was welcomed regardless of other religious affiliations. The evangelists Robert McMurdo and Alexander Marshall espoused this view when they preached at Seymour Street. A number who agreed with this position left and formed an assembly in the Mount Pleasant area. This included Will Rae, Frank Goff, and Weymss Reid. The group met in several locations before building the Mount Pleasant Gospel Hall in 1914.

 

Leadership during the early years included W.W. Reid, J.M. Robertson, R.C. Dunns, R.M. Bagshaw, James Paxton, W.N. McPhee, E.C. Hunt, J.T. Rae, F.W. Goff, A.J. Jordan, and B. Thompson.

 

In the 1940s, when their numbers had increased, and as industrial activities began to encroach in the area, the Christians began discussing a move to a location on the west side of the city, particularly since Mr. Marshall Sheppard had been carrying on a large Sunday School work there in the Marpole area. In 1944, the majority of the Christians decided to establish an assembly there. Property was purchased at the corner of Granville Street and 43rd Avenue West, on which a new building was erected and known initially as Granville South Gospel Chapel. The chapel had two auditoriums separated by a collapsible curtain; together they could seat up to 700 people. About 240 persons moved to the new chapel. The dedication service was in the spring of 1950, with Henry Petersen as the speaker. The elders at the Granville assembly at the time of the opening of the new chapel were Ralph Bagshaw, John Bennett, Jack Cochrane, Robert Dunns, John Elder, Walter McPhee, James Paxton, William Reid, John Robertson, and Marshall Sheppard.

 

(The assembly remaining at Mount Pleasant remodeled the Mount Pleasant Gospel Hall and continued with about 200 in fellowship, remaining open for several more years. The two assemblies were in full fellowship.)

 

In those early years Sunday School attendance was high, and as the children grew older many became Christians and joined the assembly. A variety of teaching programs was available to assist in their spiritual development. As well, members became very active in many parachurch organizations, including InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Young Life, Anvil Island camp, Calling Foundation, Terry Winter Christian Communications, and Bible Study Fellowship.

 

The Christians of the assembly had soon begun shortening the name Granville South Gospel Chapel to just Granville Chapel, and the name change was made official in the early 1980s. As community conditions changed, programs were created to meet those changes. Thus in 1973 Granville opened a licensed Daycare facility. Missionary activity has always been a strong emphasis at Granville. When iron curtains began to fall in Europe, medical personnel and others from Granville went to countries like Albania and Romania to distribute clothing and medical supplies. In the summer of 1994, fourteen young people spent time in Albania, while others went to places like Mongolia and Africa. Some have gone for longer periods to Austria and Poland.

 

Although all preaching and teaching had been carried out on a volunteer basis by members of Granville, the leadership felt that the time had come to create staff positions for this purpose. This led to the appointment in January 1987 of Tim MacIntosh as pastor, and under his ministry the church began to experience significant growth, particularly in the number of young people. By 1993, it became obvious that the Daycare would have to close, and in the fall of that year the space it occupied was converted to a nursery, complete with closed circuit television. Other changes included the renovation of the balcony area, making it possible to add another 90 seats.

 

Granville Chapel maintains a strong commitment to Bible-centered teaching, both from the pulpit and in home study groups. Spiritual leadership is given by a group of elders whose ages span from the 30s to the 70s, of which the pastor is a member. They are assisted by an administrative staff and by a group of deacons who are responsible for the building and grounds, and for the day-to-day operation of the church. At present about 425 attend; the median age is in the low 30s. About 75 Asians attend Granville, which is the largest assembly in the Vancouver area.

 

Regent College of Vancouver began in 1969 as a vision of several outstanding brethren. One was Marshall Sheppard of the Granville assembly, and the other was James Houston of Oxford, England. As a result of their discussions a board was set up consisting of 14 men; 10 of them were members of Granville. The college has grown steadily; about 300 graduates received their degrees in 1997.

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One of the early assemblies in Vancouver was formed in 1924 as Hebron Gospel Hall. Some of its early members were from the Mount Pleasant Gospel Hall Among the founding members were the families of Brian Sutherland, William Patterson, Revel, Williamson, Bottenheimer, Shepherd, and Jacks. Others from the early days were the families of J.M. Anderson, Linton, Barter, Scott, Simpson, Rose, Sam Shannon, Cousins, and T. Jones.

 

In the 1940s, the Hebron assembly changed its name to Kitsilano Gospel Hall to reflect the area. It consisted of about 125 believers in 1954. In 1963, its property at 5th and Arbutus was sold and a new building erected at 33rd Avenue and Arbutus. The new building was called Quilchena Chapel, again to reflect the area – a First Nations name meaning Pleasant Waters. Stacy Woods of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship was the speaker at the dedication in February 1963.

 

Among the many supplying leadership over the years were J.M. Anderson, P.J. Rich, Henry Smith, Ed Barter, George Hargreaves, Franklyn Hills, Will Wilding, Bill and Jack McAllister, Wes Bowen, Ken Smith, Gifford Crawford, David Smith, Arden Robertson, Bob Cuthill, Norman Chandler, and Elie Messim. In the early days, there was a tendency toward ‘area commendation,’ in which most of the lower mainland assemblies joined in signing. Quilchena Chapel and its predecessors joined in such commendations for workers to Ethiopia, the Dominican Republic, the Messianic Fellowship in Vancouver, and other places.

 

The assembly dwindled in recent years, with many younger families moving from the area. The remaining members disbanded as an assembly and sold the building to a Chinese Baptist group in 1998.

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An assembly was commenced in the 1950s in Hastings East Gospel Hall, Vancouver, at 2004 E. Pember Street. This assembly continued for just a few years. Close to the Hastings East Gospel Hall was the Italian Gospel Hall, an assembly of some 30 believers, meeting in a home at 696 Semlin Drive. From it, the Gos­pel sounded out not only through Canada and into the United States, but across to Italy.

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A testimony started in Burnaby, in the southeast section of the Vancouver metropolitan area, in August 1928. The nucleus of the assembly came from Seymour Street Gospel Hall and Mount Pleasant Gospel Hall, both in Vancouver. The principals involved in the start-up were James Cochrane, William McGowan, Duncan Pollock, Edward Hogg, Andrew Hogg, Daniel McLellan, William Murdoch, Archie Robertson, and Thomas Robertson.

 

The Christians met in an upper hall on Kingsway and called it Park Hall Gospel Hall. They remained there until they built a new hall in 1935 on Barker Avenue, about three blocks away, and renamed the testimony Central Park Gospel Hall. The Christians continued there until March 1989 when they sold the building and began construction of a new chapel at 7103 Tenth Avenue in Burnaby. They moved into the Tenth Avenue Bible Chapel in March 1991.

 

The assembly has scores of leaders in its long history, among whom we may mention Gilbert Murdoch, who has been in the assembly since 1935 and is still active. Workers have been commended to the Dominican Republic, Peru, Zambia, and to work in Canada. The assembly has spun off two others (see below), and today has about 45 adults and children attending.

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In 1959, another work was started by Christians at Central Park Gospel Hall. Again, this work began as a children’s work. Central Park purchased property in North Burnaby and a building was erected, called Parkcrest Gospel Chapel. The brethren starting this assembly were Gil Fuller, Ken Fuller, Dave Chila, and Wilf Hawes.

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The assembly in North Surrey was the outgrowth of several groups that met in homes in the lower Fraser Valley. Some of these gatherings go as far back as the 1920s, and evidently were coming together for prayer and Bible study. In 1955, the believers came together and formed an assembly, renting a small building in the Whalley district of Surrey in the Vancouver metropolitan area. The building was rented from the Canadian Legion on Sundays, and midweek meetings were held in various homes of believers in Surrey. The assembly had no registered name at this time.

 

In 1958, the assembly moved to a rented building at the corner of Hjorth Road (now 104th Avenue) and 148th Street in Surrey, which was usually referred to as the Hjorth Road Hall. In 1959, the assembly was incorporated as North Surrey Gospel Hall. Several years later this was changed to North Surrey Gospel Chapel. In 1961, a new building was erected at the corner of 96th Avenue and 130A Street in Surrey, where the assembly is still located.

 

Frank and Susan Hildebrant, Dan and Julia Clark, Henry and Helen Klassen, John and Isabella Morton, Mr. and Mrs. Amos Crowston, Andy and Karen Malcolm, Fred and Betty Bennett, all of whom had brethren backgrounds, were the initiators of the assembly. Elders over the years have been Frank Hildebrant, John Morton, Ted Mesher, Henry Klassen, George Wiebe, Art Wiebe, Fen Dorozio, Dave Roy, Bob Stevens, Paul Sly, Al Stahl, Ozzie Horton, and Chuck Baker. North Surrey Gospel Chapel has commended workers to Germany and Ecuador. About 70 adults and children are in the assembly.

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In 1955, a group of the younger generation at Central Park Gospel Hall commenced a testimony in an area about four miles away in the Cascade-Renfrew area of Vancouver. A bus had been hired to bring children to the Central Park Sunday School from that area. Central Park purchased a lot at 25th and Boundary Road and moved an army barrack there in 1953. John Stewart, P.W. Shatford, Fen Dorozio, and Tom McKenzie carried on a Sunday School work there for two years. The good results induced the workers to begin the Cascade Gospel Chapel, with the blessings of Central Park. Those involved in the formation of this work, besides the faithful Sunday School workers, were John Schoberg and John McLellan, with Gerald Ballard, Bill Rolston, and Jim Riller.

 

In 1966, three nearby lots were purchased, and in 1974, the believers moved into their new building. Others in leadership include Murray McConnell, Norm Marshall, Rob Wright, Peter Gerbrandt, John Hussey, Jim Tang, Scott Banford, Ron Edgecombe, Duncan Hay, Jonathan Lee, and Ian McDouall.

 

Missionaries have been commended to Argentina and Quebec. Ian and Eleanor McDouall have been commended to full-time work at Cascade Gospel Chapel. About 125 adults and children are in the assembly.

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Hollyburn Christian Fellowship in West Vancouver began as Hollyburn Chapel in 1923. Those who began the assembly are not remembered. It has always been at 1403 Duchess Avenue. Derek Muller, Ed Worrall, and Alan Morton are among those who have assumed leadership. About 65 adults and children are in Hollyburn Christian Fellowship, which has commended workers to Mexico.

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Mr. and Mrs. Edward Billingham lived in the Carleton area and helped begin a Sunday School work nearby in a rented store in 1932. A series of gospel meetings was held there in 1934. Those most involved at the beginning were Charles Steele, Gaius Bell,Basil Boyd, Harry Steele, Alan Adamson, and several sisters. Later a Gospel Hall was built in that district and the Carleton Assembly was formed in 1966, meeting at 45th and Tyne.

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Other assemblies in Vancouver in the 1950s were the 24th Avenue Gospel Hall and the Parkway Assembly, which occupied rented quarters in the down town area near Stanley Park on West Georgia Street. The Knight Road Assembly at 26th and Knight Road had about 100 believers in 1954.

 

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The assemblies in the Greater Vancouver area had increased to 36 by 1950. In that year, it was estimated that the inclusive membership of the approximately 60 ‘open’ assemblies in British Columbia was 5000.

 

Many assemblies in the Vancouver and Victoria areas have historically cooperated in a variety of areas such as summer camps, open-air meetings, senior citizen housing, Easter conferences, sports teams, parachurch organizations, and commendation of missionaries. Several assemblies had ‘Mary & Martha’ groups of women; like Martha, they would make and provide clothing for missionaries; like Mary, they would have Bible studies. The assemblies have commended a multitude of workers to locations throughout the world, as well as to local ministries.

 

 

Other Areas of British Columbia

 

A small assembly at White Rock, south of Vancouver and near the Washington state line, began in the early 1950s, and built the Hill Top Gospel Chapel, which continues.

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The work that developed into the assembly now meeting at Langley Gospel Hall southeast of Vancouver began around 1911 in the home of the pioneer farming family of William Brown. The Browns had immigrated from Plymouth, England. The Browns soon began a Sunday School in their home. In 1912, the evangelists J.J. Rouse and Charles Summers pitched a Gospel tent in the Langley community. Following those meetings, a company of Christians began to Remember the Lord in the Brown’s home; this was the beginning of the Langley asssembly.

 

The Langley Gospel Hall was built on the Brown farm property in 1931 and moved to its present location at 4775 221st Street, Langley, in 1970. It was enlarged in the 1990s. Besides the Browns, J.J. Rouse, and Charles Summers, those involved in the start-up of the assembly were the Willox, Mercer, and Ritchie families. Leadership over the years has been provided by William Brown, S.E. Matthews, Jim Larsen, S. McKillop, J. Holgate, Philip Toogood, G. Lichti, and J. Ken Foote, and more recently David Chesney, William Hague, and Gerald Hutchinson. About 75 adults and children, representing 16 different nationalities, attend Langley Gospel Hall. The assembly has commended and co-commended workers to The Netherlands, Newfoundland, and Japan.

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A small group of believers living in the Abbotsford area, southeast of Langley, were meeting in the home of William Brown in Langley. One of them was John Rae, who was postmaster for the town of Abbotsford. He was able to obtain a room above the post office, where the Christians in the Abbotsford area first gathered as an assembly in 1921. The fellowship included the Anderson, Vertch, Sparrow, McKie, Adams, McKay, Hyde, Higginson, John Rae, and Ed McPhail families.

 

In 1922, a small building was built on the site of the present Fraser Valley Inn, but as the town grew, this building had to give way to commercial development. Land was obtained in 1926 on Mission Highway and the Abbotsford Gospel Hall was built. The first series of Gospel meetings at the hall was in 1927, with Herb Harris and Charles Summers preaching, at which many professed salvation and joined the assembly. Mr. Harris held Bible readings in the McPhail home to instruct the new believers. Evangelist David Scott came the next year to help in the assembly, and Hector Alves and Arthur Rae followed in subsequent years with tent meetings in the area.

 

In 1952, a new hall was built on Old Yale Road. After that the assembly relocated to Gladwin Road when additional parking space was required, and then to Parkview Road, where the assembly took its current name Parkview Gospel Hall. Leadership in the assembly has been provided by Messrs. Emmans, Fadden, Fifer, Moore, Styles, and Barber in the earlier days, and more recently Bruce Fadden, Jim Larson, Elton Krenzler, and John Lightfoot.

 

Parkview Gospel Hall and its antecedents have commended missionaries to The Netherlands, Zambia, Newfoundland, and Dominica. About 50 adults and youngsters are in the assembly at present.

* * * * * * *

 

The Clearbrook Assembly of Christians started in 1986, meeting in various homes in the Abbotsford area. In the 1990s, they acquired a basement suite in the Cedar Park Mall and took the name Cedar Park Christian Fellowship. James McFarlan, Dave Peters, Bob Styles, and Jerry Lichti were instrumental in starting the Clearbrook Assembly, which was not a hive-off from another assembly. The elders have been Will Dawes, Jerry Lichti, Fred Greer, and Earl McPhail. About 25 adults and youngsters are in Cedar Park Christian Fellowship.

* * * * * * *

 

About 35 miles east of Vancouver is the Aldergrove Gospel Hall in Aberdeen, where the work was developed through the efforts of Mun Hope and others.

* * * * * * *

 

Penticton is at the lower end of Okanogan Lake, about 240 miles east of Vancouver. There an assembly of 60 believers was centrally located in Central Gospel Chapel in 1954. In the late 1970s, the assembly relocated to 120 Preston Avenue and took the name Preston Avenue Bible Chapel. Thirty miles above Okanogan Lake is Westbank, a little community which has two assemblies, each with its own hall, both in existence for many years. A small assembly in the city of Kamloops met in a home in 1954, but lasted only a while. However, in the early 1980s, two assemblies developed in Kamloops and continue. About 140 miles east of Kamloops is Revelstoke, where until 1953 a small assembly met in the home of Fred Wood­land.

* * * * * * *

 

In the southeastern section of British Columbia, about 350 miles from Van­couver and close to the Washington state border, were three assemblies. At Castlegar, the assembly of about 30 built the 5th and Elm Gospel Hall in 1954. In this mining and smelting area, older assemblies were at the towns of Trail and Rossland. The assembly at Trail had a new building in 1954, Bethany Chapel, seating 120 in the main auditorium. The assembly at Rossland, a mountain city of 5000, rented the main floor of a three story building on one of the principal corners of the city during the 1940s. The building had been used as a dance hall, a store, and a miniature golf course. The assembly purchased the building and remodeled it to provide an auditorium seating 200, and other rooms. B. P. Sutherland was one of the leaders at the Rossland Gospel Hall later called Rossland Gospel Chapel. All three of these assemblies have disbanded.

* * * * * * *

 

To Prince George, 500 miles north of Vancouver, came E. C. Clogg in 1950, transferred from Penticton by the Hudson Bay Company. The following year the Bank of Montreal transferred John Phillips from Nanaimo to Prince George, and these two assembly families soon met.

 

When John Phillips’ father, Leonard Phillips, arrived from England to visit in August 1951, the families began Breaking Bread. Contact was made with other Christians, and in 1954 the assembly, with 15 to 20 in fellowship and 30 to 40 at its ministry and Gos­pel meetings, moved into a rented Scout’s hall in South Fort George. At that time, the assembly was largely under the leadership of Cecil Carter and John Phillips. Prince George was a rough lumbering town and the small assembly naturally had a variety of members; they were, however intense and dedicated. Sometime after 1955, the Christians erected their own Prince George Gospel Chapel.

* * * * * * *

 

Kelly Road Gospel Chapel in Prince George began in 1980, a hive-off from the Prince George Gospel Chapel. The Haws, Shatford, Phillips, and Singh families started the new assembly. C.W. Haws and P.W. Shatford have been the elders. About 60 people are in the assembly, which has sent three couples to the mission field.

* * * * * * *

 

When the William McCullough family, then in fellowship at Michigan Heights Gospel Hall in Powell River, north of Vancouver, moved in the 1960s to Terrace, not far from the southern edge of Alaska, only one lady of assembly background lived in the town. The McCulloughs began a Sunday School in their home for about a year, then when numbers increased, moved it to a nearby school. The Dick Vantol family came in 1966 from West Richmond Gospel Hall in the Vancouver area.

 

The construction of Terrace Gospel Hall began in 1966, and the first assembly meeting took place there in April 1967. Thomas Hay, John Abernathy, William McCullough, and Dick Vantol were those who initiated the assembly. In 1968, Melvin Reid and family joined the assembly and shared in the responsibilities. Thomas Hay and John Abernathy held Gospel meetings in a school in Terrace in 1967, helped by William Funston of the West Richmond assembly. William McCullough and Dick Vantol have shared leadership. At its largest, the assembly had 32 in fellowship and 75 in the Sunday School. Since then, the Reids and Vantols returned to Vancouver and others were transferred out. Terrace Gospel Hall today has about 30 people.


Sources:

Questionnaire responses and other correspondence

Circle of Voices: A History of Religious Communities in British Columbia, 1983, oolichan books, Lantzville, British Columbia

History of Cascades Gospel Chapel, by Ronald Edgecombe, 1983

Lambrick Park Church, undated but perhaps early 1990s

50th Anniversary 1931 - 1981, Victoria Gospel Chapel

Oaklands Chapel, Celebrating Twenty Five years of God’s Blessing, 1957 - 1982

Brae Road Gospel Chapel, 75th Anniversary, 1921 - 1996

A Brief History of The Lord’s Work at Westview, Victoria, 1962 - 1996

The History of Granville, by Ruth Oliver, undated but about 1991; Granville Chapel, a Short History, undated, but mid 1990s

Historical and Statistical Records of Wakesiah Gospel Chapel, undated

History of Quilchena Chapel, by Wes Bowen, 1999

The Early History of Assemblies of Christians Gathered to the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ in Vancouver, Canada; undated; perhaps written in late 1960s; author not identified; contains accounts by Hector Alves and magazine reports

Letters of Interest, May 1950, p. 7; October 1954, p. 9; June 1945, p. 15


Yukon

 

Lying almost within the Arctic Circle is the little town of Dawson, the center of many gold mining operations. Scattered up and down the Klondike Valley and along the gold-bearing creeks are still some camps and the workings of men who have sought the precious metal ever since the big strike on Bonanza Creek in the hectic rush of 1898.

 

In and around Dawson and up and down the Yukon are native Indians and trappers. Until after World War II, these people were quite neglected as far as hearing the Gospel is concerned.

 

To these regions Charles O. Bowen was directed of the Lord to preach the good news concerning Jesus Christ. Some were saved, and a vigorous little Dawson Assembly was born, ministering to both natives and ‘sourdoughs.’

 

In June 1951, the assembly in Dawson opened a branch work among the natives, where a good Sunday school and Gospel work was carried on in a native chapel set aside for use by the Indians.

 

Mr. Bowen also visited the camps during the short summer season as well as the individual miner in his cabin. He also broadcast the Gospel message over the air twice a week to all who lived in this area.

 

 

 

 

Sources:

Letters of Interest, June 1952, p.12


Index

 

16th & MacDonald Gospel Hall, Vancouver, BC......................................................................................................................... 5

24th Avenue Gospel Hall, Vancouver, BC.................................................................................................................................. 11

5th and Elm Gospel Hall, Castlegar, BC....................................................................................................................................... 13

Abbotsford Gospel Hall, BC......................................................................................................................................................... 13

Aldergrove Gospel Hall, Aberdeen, BC...................................................................................................................................... 13

Bethany Chapel, Trail, BC............................................................................................................................................................. 13

Bethesda Gospel Chapel, Victoria, BC........................................................................................................................................... 2

Brae Road Gospel Chapel, Duncan, BC......................................................................................................................................... 4

Carleton Assembly, Vancouver, BC............................................................................................................................................ 11

Cascade Gospel Chapel, Vancouver, BC..................................................................................................................................... 11

Cedar Cottage Assembly, Vancouver, BC.................................................................................................................................... 6

Cedar Hall, Duncan, BC................................................................................................................................................................... 3

Cedar Park Christian Fellowship, Abbotsford, BC.................................................................................................................... 13

Central Gospel Chapel, Penticton, BC......................................................................................................................................... 13

Central Park Gospel Hall, Burnaby, BC.................................................................................................................................. 10, 11

Chemainus Assembly, BC............................................................................................................................................................... 4

Clearbrook Assembly of Christians, Abbotsford, BC............................................................................................................... 13

Dawson Assembly, YK.................................................................................................................................................................. 16

Deep Cove Assembly, Vancouver, BC.......................................................................................................................................... 7

Duncan Gospel Hall, BC.................................................................................................................................................................. 3

Elim Gospel Chapel, Courtenay, BC............................................................................................................................................... 4

Elim Hall, Courtenay, BC.................................................................................................................................................................. 4

Fairview Gospel Hall, Vancouver, BC............................................................................................................................................ 7

Granville Chapel, Vancouver, BC................................................................................................................................................... 8

Granville South Gospel Chapel, Vancouver, BC.......................................................................................................................... 8

Hastings East Gospel Hall, Vancouver, BC.................................................................................................................................. 9

Hebron Gospel Hall, Vancouver, BC.............................................................................................................................................. 9

Helen Street Gospel Hall, Port Alberni, BC................................................................................................................................... 4

Hill Top Gospel Chapel, White Rock, BC.................................................................................................................................... 12

Hjorth Road Hall, Surrey, BC........................................................................................................................................................ 10

Hollyburn Chapel, West Vancouver, BC.................................................................................................................................... 11

Hollyburn Christian Fellowship, West Vancouver, BC............................................................................................................ 11

Italian Gospel Hall, Vancouver, BC................................................................................................................................................ 9

Kamloops Assembly, BC............................................................................................................................................................... 13

Kelly Road Gospel Chapel, Prince George, BC........................................................................................................................... 14

Kitsilano Gospel Hall, Vancouver, BC........................................................................................................................................... 9

Knight Road Assembly, Vancouver, BC..................................................................................................................................... 11

Ladysmith Assembly, BC................................................................................................................................................................ 4

Lambrick Park Church, Victoria, BC............................................................................................................................................... 3

Langley Gospel Hall, BC................................................................................................................................................................ 12

Lathom Road Gospel Hall, Port Alberni, BC................................................................................................................................. 4

Michigan Heights Gospel Hall, Powell River, BC...................................................................................................................... 14

Mount Pleasant Gospel Hall, Vancouver, BC........................................................................................................................ 7_10

New Westminster Assembly, BC................................................................................................................................................... 5

North Surrey Gospel Chapel, BC.................................................................................................................................................. 10

North Surrey Gospel Hall, BC....................................................................................................................................................... 10

Oak Bay Gospel Assembly, Victoria, BC....................................................................................................................................... 2

Oaklands Chapel, Victoria, BC.................................................................................................................................................... 1, 2

Oaklands Gospel Hall, Victoria, BC................................................................................................................................................ 1

Park Hall Gospel Hall, Burnaby, BC............................................................................................................................................. 10

Parkcrest Gospel Chapel, Burnaby, BC....................................................................................................................................... 10

Parkview Gospel Hall, Abbotsford, BC....................................................................................................................................... 13

Parkway Assembly, Vancouver, BC............................................................................................................................................ 11

Preston Avenue Bible Chapel, Penticton, BC............................................................................................................................ 13

Prince George Gospel Chapel, BC................................................................................................................................................ 14

Quadra Bible Chapel, Victoria, BC.................................................................................................................................................. 3

Quilchena Chapel, Vancouver, BC................................................................................................................................................. 9

Revelstoke Assembly, BC............................................................................................................................................................. 13

Ross Bay Gospel Hall, Victoria, BC................................................................................................................................................ 2

Rossland Gospel Chapel, BC........................................................................................................................................................ 14

Rossland Gospel Hall, BC.............................................................................................................................................................. 14

Saanichton Bible Fellowship, Victoria, BC.................................................................................................................................... 3

Seymour Street Gospel Hall, Vancouver, BC.......................................................................................................................... 5, 10

Sidney Bible Chapel, BC.................................................................................................................................................................. 3

Sidney Gospel Hall, BC.................................................................................................................................................................... 3

Sixteenth Avenue Gospel Chapel, Vancouver, BC...................................................................................................................... 5

South Main Street Assembly, Vancouver, BC............................................................................................................................. 7

Tenth Avenue Bible Chapel, Burnaby, BC................................................................................................................................. 10

Terrace Gospel Hall, BC................................................................................................................................................................. 14

University Chapel at Quadra, Victoria, BC.................................................................................................................................... 3

University Chapel, Victoria, BC...................................................................................................................................................... 2

Vancouver Assembly, BC............................................................................................................................................................... 5

Victoria Drive Gospel Hall, Vancouver, BC................................................................................................................................... 6

Victoria Gospel Chapel, BC............................................................................................................................................................. 1

Victoria Gospel Hall, BC............................................................................................................................................................... 1, 2

Victoria Road Gospel Hall, Nanaimo, BC....................................................................................................................................... 4

Wakesiah Gospel Chapel, Nanaimo, BC........................................................................................................................................ 4

West Richmond Gospel Hall, Richmond, BC.......................................................................................................................... 7, 14

Westbank Assemblies, BC............................................................................................................................................................ 13

Westview Gospel Chapel, Victoria, BC......................................................................................................................................... 2

Woodland Drive Assembly, Vancouver, BC................................................................................................................................ 7

 

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