The wonderful character found inside an old chapel makes for the perfect setting to host a wedding.  Rich warmth in the tones from the wood paneling creates a sense of luxury and the decorations add a touch of grace and elegance.  In a few hours, two people will stand face-to-face and express their heartfelt love for one another and joyfully make a life-long commitment to each other.

In today’s post we are returning to the lovely community of Fairbridge in our running photoblog series “The Children Of Fairbridge” where we visit the Fairbridge Chapel and go inside to see the incredible wood paneling and beams created by the finest carpenters and craftsmen of the time.

Fairbridge Chapel - Cowichan Station, Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Fairbridge Chapel – Cowichan Station, Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

Fairbridge Chapel - Cowichan Station, Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Fairbridge Chapel – Cowichan Station, Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

Fairbridge Chapel - Cowichan Station, Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Fairbridge Chapel – Cowichan Station, Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

We were delighted to have a chance to visit the wedding chapel a few hours before the big event.  Family and friends had been busy with decorating, and now that they were done it was time to wait for the ceremony to begin.  In these few hours, we explored the chapel and discovered a wonder.

The alter was beautifully adorned in flowers and welcomed you immediately upon entering.  A deep sense of history and tradition was palpable, the perfect setting for such a happy event.  The light was very low as the morning was overcast and the skies grey.  This required long exposure times and gave us a chance to scout for compositions.

Fairbridge Chapel - Cowichan Station, Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Fairbridge Chapel – Cowichan Station, Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

Fairbridge Chapel - Cowichan Station, Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Fairbridge Chapel – Cowichan Station, Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

Some of the features that immediately caught my attention on my first visit were the beams and rafters, and now having time to really take them in I began to truly appreciate the craftsmanship that went into making them.  The love for the chapel is evident in its nearly immaculate condition, and the textures and details in the intricate woodwork create great character.

Fairbridge Chapel - Cowichan Station, Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Fairbridge Chapel – Cowichan Station, Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

Fairbridge Chapel - Cowichan Station, Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Fairbridge Chapel – Cowichan Station, Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

The beautiful stained glass windows add a radiant dash of color to the earth tones creating the perfect surroundings for what was to come.  The stillness of the moment was fleeting.   It felt as if the chapel itself was looking forward to being filled with friends and family of the bride and groom, their excitement and happiness echoing in the tall rafters.

Fairbridge Chapel - Cowichan Station, Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Fairbridge Chapel – Cowichan Station, Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

Overlooking no detail, we were told this angel was hand-crafted by George Gibson, a locally famous architectural sculpture, many years ago.  Born in Scotland, he eventually reached our shores and settled, leaving behind a legacy that is part of the foundation of the island.  Each deliberate line is captured wonderfully, really emphasizing the spirit of an angel permanently rendered in wood.  Sweeping, grand architectural elements are found everywhere, as are wonderful details that almost form vignettes within the bigger context.

Fairbridge Chapel - Cowichan Station, Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Fairbridge Chapel – Cowichan Station, Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

Soon this beautiful organ will fill the chapel with cheery notes, signifying the start of the ceremony.  Growing up, I spent countless hours tickling the keys of an almost identical organ, turning away from it only once I discovered cars.  At the time I didn’t give it a second thought, but today I see instruments like this in a different light.  All at once old and yet contemporary, the deep rich tones give an angelic voice to this grand and magnificent building.

Fairbridge Chapel - Cowichan Station, Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Fairbridge Chapel – Cowichan Station, Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

Having a chance to be in the chapel alone really allows the weight of its history to settle upon you, almost like a cloak.  The view from the pulpit is one looking out over a congregation hungry for a message of love and hope; looking out for one another and a sense of community and belonging.  As the years pass, each sermon adds its own imprint, weaving together with ones past to form the tapestry that is the story of Fairbridge Chapel.

One of the best parts about our visit to Fairbridge was in finding a community passionately dedicated to preserving the past for future generations to learn from and enjoy.  We find so much of our local rich history is giving way to new development, and as such there is a sense of urgency behind documenting these unique stories and trying to bring awareness to a broader audience.

Our next post in this series will find us heading upstairs for a detailed look at the clock mechanism in the tower.  There’s a great story for it, one that shows how even with small communities dispersed across vast sections of rugged landscape, certain things transcend this and form a foundation for the history that follows.  We’ll also take a look at one of the heritage homes in the community, perfectly maintained as a quintessential example of Vancouver Island character.

Thanks for taking the time to visit us here today, we really appreciate it.  We love to hear from all our visitors, so please do feel free to leave any comments you may have.




  1. avatar Rick Louie says:

    Wow, what character in that church! You just don’t see the intricate carvins and beams llke that anymore!

  2. avatar Perry Bailey says:

    What a beautiful chapel, Toad! The shot of angel is absolutely magnificent.

  3. avatar Rachel Cohen says:

    Wow, lovely series of images and a wonderful post Toad! Loads of beautiful history there! 🙂

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thanks Rachel, we’re hoping to head back soon for a follow-up shoot, there are plenty of extraordinary details in this lovely facility just waiting to be photographed! Many thanks for your kind visit, we appreciate that very much!

  4. avatar Renee Besta says:

    Such a beautiful chapel for a wedding, Toad. Your description of the ambience and architecture is as warm and rich as the structure itself. How fortunate you were able to visit when the chapel was empty. You do have a wonderful way with words, Toad – fantastic writing and images to accompany the story. I feel like I am visiting myself. How fun to think at one time you played the organ before you got hooked on cars. Great job.

  5. avatar Len Saltiel says:

    Such a quaint and lovely chapel. Great history presented here along with super images Toad. Makes you wonder how many couples walked trough the doors as individuals and walked out as man and wife.

  6. avatar Rich McPeek says:

    Such great photos and terrific post my friends! Look forward to more!

  7. avatar Edith Levy says:

    What a lovely chapel. I love that beamed ceiling. You did a beautiful job on these images my friend.

  8. avatar ehpem says:

    What a wonderful collection to show off this building. Terrific idea to go when it was decorated! I bet the people that did the decorating are loving your photos too. The terrific work done for events like that is often mostly lost in the emotion of the ceremony and people forget to acknowledge these kinds of preparations. You have done that in a big way!

  9. avatar LensScaper says:

    Always good to come back to your work after a couple of weeks away, Toad. A beautiful venue brought to life by your well crafted work. I make a point these days never to walk past a church or chapel – you never know what lies behind those doors and often it is the most unlikeliest of buildings that hold the greatest of surprises.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thank you ever so kindly, Andy, it’s a huge joy for us to see you pop by and leave us comments like this! It seems that we share a common passion for these sorts of subjects, my friend. I am hoping to do much more this fall in this genre, so please do stay tuned!

  10. avatar Jim Nix says:

    a beautiful place, photographed perfectly! nice work my friend!

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      You, sir, rock! Thank you so much my friend, we sure do appreciate your kindness and support here!

  11. This brings back memories. Even though when I was there for a short while in the seventies and saw the inside of this chapel once, it was not done up as nicely as in your photos. I don’t think it was used at all at that time. Awesome photography!

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thanks Joseph! We’re thrilled to see such an appetite for maintaining this lovely little chapel, it’s amazing to see it in such wonderful condition! Thank you so much for taking the time to pop by and see us here, and for leaving your great comments I am sure everyone will enjoy!