One of the cornerstones to hold the hamlet of Edgewater together over the past century has been the All Saints Anglican Church.
And while services still take place through most of the year, waning attendance and pricy hydro bills force Sunday services to take the winters off. However, the doors can always be opened for a special occasion, such as a baptism, wedding, or funeral.
In order to alleviate the original Edgewater community hall (not the same one that stands today) from serving as a holy place, the All Saints Anglican Church was built in 1931-1932 on 4829 Cordillera Avenue in Edgewater. At that time, there was one convenience store near the baseball diamond, and the current location of Pip’s Country Store was a vacant lot.
The small building fits two columns and six pews, which were built by a Dutch carpenter living in Edgewater in the 1930s. And whether it’s from the furniture or the building itself, its aroma of stained, antique wood distinguishes it from other historical churches.
During the warmer months, services take place regularly on the first and third Sunday of each month, and are normally led by Reverend Laura Hermakin, from Invermere’s Christ Church
According to lifelong Edgewater resident Betty Sawchuk, who was born in 1929, the church is very similar today to how it was first built. She said the biggest difference today is the size of the congregation.
“Sometimes there are only two or three of us there,” said Marg Hodson, who often attends services at All Saints. “If we’ve got eight there, we feel like we’ve got a full house.”
“I love the old system, but I know that it doesn’t always appeal to some,” she said.
Despite the dwindling congregation, volunteers have been able to keep the church in good shape with the modest revenues and donations that come in.
On the property of All Saints is a cemetery, which has been in use since the church’s beginning and still has about half an acre of space left. Most commonly, the deceased were born in Edgewater. At its current rate, Betty expects the graveyard to be full in about 20 years. She picked up the slack as the caretaker after the site went unattended for a long period of time. Nearly 50 years ago, Betty was distraught to find the cemetery in rough shape.
“It was just weeds,” she said. “You had to scratch around to find anything.”
She decided to do something about it, and contacted the families of everyone buried there. From them, Betty asked for $10 each year, or whatever they could afford, for caretaking services. Even after all this time, most people are still paying their dues, even those who moved away.
“(The church) was always the centre of the community,” she said.
Betty has been attending All Saints since before she tried ice cream for the first time, which was when she was about six years old, she recalls. Edgewater had planned a community picnic on the top of the first hill before Brisco and it was arranged that a Canada Post employee, who had a route between Cranbrook and Golden, would drop off a tub of ice cream for the picnic on his way north and pick up the tub on his trip home. This annual picnic was Betty’s only ice cream consumption every year until her family acquired a refrigerator. To contact All Saints, call 250-427-2495.