High atop Mission Hill sits Saint Andrew’s Anglican Church, a beacon of hope and fellowship for everyone in the area. This beautiful Gothic Revival styled facility was constructed in 1877 and was the first Anglican Parish in the area, deeming it the Mother Church. This is a historically significant building that was completely restored in 2004.
This story starts back over a year ago now, when we were originally contacted by a representative for the Anglican Church to inquire about purchasing one of our church photographs to include in a large annual fund-raising calendar they print. They chose our image of The Anglican Parish of Saint Peter, Quamichan (Duncan, BC), which was included on the December page of this 60,000 copy printing. To say we were delighted and honored would be an understatement.
We received our copy of the calendar for our portfolio with a wonderful letter inviting us to submit some images for the 2013 edition. And this is where the entire adventure began.
After receiving our invitation, Mrs. Toad set about several days of research in an effort to find the perfect place. When she found Saint Andrew’s, we knew we had found it.
Using our favorite photography tool, The Photographer’s Ephemeris, we found the perfect time in terms of lighting to capture the full beauty of this church and made plans to make the several hour journey north. Watching the weather reports for days on end finally revealed the perfect day for the trip. And when we arrived in Courtenay, we were greeted by the most spectacular day with the most spectacular pure blue skies.
During our research we quickly realized that we had discovered a place that is highly revered in the local community. It’s history is based entirely on the settling of the area in the mid to late 1800’s, making this an incredibly important facility. Completely restored in 2004 from the foundation up, incredible care and love have been invested in ensuring that the church is available for parishioners today and well into the future. It also stands as a reminder of the past and history that helped to create the area we all love and call home today.
But as with many stories that have some roots in modern times, we also find controversy and pain. Just before Christmas of last year, vandals struck. And they struck with a vengeful and vitriolic message that permeates the air today and speaks of struggles many groups are facing in maintaining heritage structures for future generations to enjoy.
This sincerely breaks our hearts.
The perpetrators of this heinous activity used this beautiful old, historic facility as a canvas to spread their personal form of hatred. They painted swastika’s and the word “skinheads” on the building, which was covered in our local news video segment “Saint Andrew’s Anglican Church“. The really sad part is the local police believe that the people responsible for this are undoubtedly youths in the area, and to make it even worse, they probably don’t really understand the significance of the hatred they spew.
They don’t even really know what it is they think they stand for.
And the church, and the community, suffer for it.
We took no pictures of this vandalism, not wanting to perpetuate and spread the ill feelings these sorts of things promote. We prefer to focus on the beauty and interest that can be found.
We work hard here at Toad Hollow Photography to find and capture images of historically significant buildings and artifacts. We do this with a deep passion for the area we live in, and as a means to preserve history to share with future generations. We are actually hoping to work with another group here in the Victoria area in the weeks ahead that is also intent on preserving history. We strive to be part of the solution. If you are a subscriber to our newsletter, we’ll have news of all this to share with you in the coming days so please do stay tuned.
Vancouver Island may only be 100 to 150 years old now, young in terms of worldly civilizations. But it is a storied place with its own character and history that well deserves to be documented and shared. We are thrilled to be part of this as it means so very much to us. We’re noticing that more and more people of our generation are coming together in an effort to preserve our past, and this is a heartwarming activity to be a part of.
Even in very recent years we’ve planned to photograph specific buildings that the rumor mill seems to believe have a short life expectancy. On more than once occasion we’ve made the plans and showed up at the location to find the building gone. This only further serves to remind us of the urgency of our mission here, time waits for no one and progress marches on continuously.
Our desire to photograph and share our history is something that brings us much personal joy and satisfaction. We are continuously amazed by the following we have here and the way that our work seems to resonate and connect with others. This is highly meaningful to us, and in some ways drives us on.
We have a second part to this post coming in the next few days, featuring the historic cemetery located right behind the church. Our story shared here today continues and we hope everyone stays tuned. In the meantime, we’d like to thank you so much for your kind visit, and we encourage you to leave us any comments you may have as we love to hear from all our visitors.