Our first love in photography here on Vancouver Island will always be our heritage architecture.  These wonderful old buildings not only form the foundation for the history of modern colonization on the island, they are also character-rich buildings that help form the feel and spirit of our cities.  As progress marches on and we see more of these buildings fall to make way for modern multifamily dwellings, our level of concern rises.  How can we achieve the important task of development on the island at the same time that we work hard on preserving our links to our past?  In some cases re-purposing is the key to this challenge, and today’s post shares one such story of an important heritage church.

Saint John the Baptist Church - Comox, BC, Canada

Saint John the Baptist Church – Comox, BC, Canada

Let us take this opportunity to introduce you to something special.  This is Saint John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church, situated in the city of Comox on Vancouver Island, BC, Canada.  Originally built in 1886 as colonization was taking place, it was the victim of a rather nasty storm two years after construction that required it to be rebuilt.  This is the result of those efforts.

We see a lot of this style structure on Vancouver Island, particularly in buildings constructed in the mid 19th century.  The quaint and lovely structures convey the character that has since become part of the Island that we know and love so well.  So you can imagine our surprise when we came across this church…  with a for sale sign in the front yard.

Saint John the Baptist Church - Comox, BC, Canada

Saint John the Baptist Church – Comox, BC, Canada

These photographs were all captured in the spring of 2012.  As the months ticked by and I looked forward to blogging and sharing this story, my sense of curiosity became more pronounced.  Was it still for sale?  If not, who bought it and what are the plans?  All too often with stories like this we find that the building is either in such poor condition that refurbishment is not financially possible, or the return on investment would not be great enough to warrant the efforts.  Scary when you think about the pace that our heritage is disappearing at.  Is everyone counting on good records and quality photographs to maintain this link to our past moving forward?  That’s a bit of frightening concept to us.

Saint John the Baptist Church - Comox, BC, Canada

Saint John the Baptist Church – Comox, BC, Canada

It might be neglected and weathered, but it sure does appear to us that all hope is not lost for this wonderful facility.  No gaping holes were evident in the roof and no obvious structural damage was evident.  What could be done to bring this piece of history forward for the community to enjoy for many years to come?

Saint John the Baptist Church - Comox, BC, Canada

Saint John the Baptist Church – Comox, BC, Canada

So I am sure you can imagine my delight this morning while I was researching the church for our post today to discover that it had been recently bought.  The Comox Valley Record shared a story discussing this purchase and the proposition on the table currently for the plans.  We’re absolutely thrilled to discover a local community member, Kelly Pound, has purchased the church and is working hard to renovate it and ready it to become a new community arts center.

The lack of maintenance and care over the past several years have taken its toll on the building, and Kelly states in the article that extensive renovations are required.  We certainly wish her luck with this wonderful project and are very much looking forward to seeing it come to fruition.  I can honestly say that if it does indeed open as an arts center, Mrs. Toad and I will be some of the first visitors to visit it.

Thank you for your kind visit today, we always appreciate it.  Please do feel free to leave us any comments that you may have as we really love to hear from all our visitors.




  1. Another fascinating story, and with such a great positive outcome. It is so nice to see these sorts of historical building repurposed for a new life. We have an old fire station near us which has been a form of community center for as long as I have lived in the neighborhood.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thank you so much there, Mark! Isn’t it wonderful when a community comes together and finds a new purpose for these old buildings. It’s a bit of the best of both worlds, really, you get to save a building and folks get to enjoy it! Thank you for taking the time to pop by and see us, and for leaving us your great comments kind sir, we sure do appreciate it!

  2. Wonderful church and quite well preserved from its apparent lack of use. Thanks for going out and capturing all of these wonderful images of places that unfortunately, will see their end eventually.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thank you for all your support and encouragement here, Mike, I don’t know how we can thank you enough! Great comments here today, we sure do appreciate you taking the time to leave these for us!

  3. avatar Jim Denham says:

    What an awesome old building Toads with such amazing character! Glad you shared both the wonderful pics and the great news! Can’t wait to see what happens with it!

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thank you so much there, Jim, we sure do appreciate that! Thanks for your kind visit and comments here, my friend!

  4. avatar Rick Louie says:

    So nice to hear that someone in the local community purchased it and is going to do some restoration. That’s always so nice to hear on a building with some history. Thanks for sharing the story and images!

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      And thank you for your kind visit and wonderful comments here, Rick, we certainly appreciate all your support!

  5. avatar Edith Levy says:

    Toad I usually get an email you post something new and now this is the 3rd post that I’ve missed. I’m not getting your emails. I’ll sign up again. Great post.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Edith, I am so sorry about those issues, we were just notified on Saturday of the problem. I really don’t fully know what happened here, but it seems one of the updates we installed broke something somewhere. So sorry for the inconvenience and thanks for hunting us down here! We really appreciate all your friendship and support Edith.

  6. avatar Sherry Galey says:

    I love to read your posts about the architecture on the island and view your excellent photos. They really give me a feel for the place. This is a story with a happy outcome and it will be so interesting to see how the church is restored. Really enjoy your blog, Toad!

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thank you SO much Sherry, we are delighted beyond words to read your comments here today! Many thanks my friend, please come again!

  7. What a nice story with a terrific ending. I can’t wait to see the photos of the new art center when it opens. Think you’ll grab any shots of it? 🙂

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      It’s DEFINITELY on our ToDo list, Steven! 🙂 Thank you so very much for your kind visit here today, and for your great comments kind sir, we sure do appreciate it!

  8. Looks like a very beautiful church. I’m happy to hear somebody is willing to take on the task of restoration and re-purpose. I look forward to seeing images of the art center when it is completed. Great story and images Toad!

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thanks a ton there, Michael, we really appreciate your feedback! We’re very much looking to seeing what comes of this fabulous old facility! Thanks so much for popping by!