Churches are much more than just the materials used to create them, they are important parts of our communities and take on a deeper meaning for the welfare of the people they serve. As we begin our latest photography project working with the Anglican Diocese of BC, we are invited to visit and immerse ourselves in these wonderful places on Vancouver Island. Through this experience we come away with more than just a great portfolio of new photographs to share, we have a new-found connection with the church, and new friends in our hosts who graciously make their time and expertise available. Thanks for joining us today as we explore St. Peter’s Anglican Church Comox and launch our latest photoblog series “The Anglican Church Project“.
This entire adventure started with a single connection. On June 1st, 2012 we published a post featuring this wonderful church after Mrs. Toad and I visited it in the late spring. The post, “St. Peter’s Anglican Church“, was well-received and we enjoyed sharing it with everyone who follows our blog. In early 2013 we were contacted by Pastor Jim Lyster, Rector of St. Peter’s, who was very happy with the work we had done so far. He invited us back with the intention of making the entire facility available to us to photograph. To say we were delighted would be a huge understatement, this is exactly the work that we love to do here on Vancouver Island and having a chance to really connect personally with Jim and the church itself was something to really look forward to. We made arrangements to return on October 19th, 2013 and this post is a result of that visit.
The parish was originally established in 1891 and the original building was torn down in the late 1930’s. The facility we enjoy here today was built in 1939 and continues to serve the community. But there’s more to the story, and we really begin to delve into it as we head inside to enjoy the wonderful interior.
Mrs. Toad was indisposed on the day of the visit, so I had to make this journey alone. One of the first things that really struck me as I entered the church was the rich wood beams that adorn the ceilings. I was told these beams are not structural in nature, but they really add terrific character to the inside with the rich tones used to finish them matching all the finer details inside. With the tall ceilings, elements like this create a wonderful and inviting feel.
Roughly seven years ago a restoration project was undertaken completely removing the interior right down to the original studs (and cob webs–though perhaps not original). The wood floor, railing, and altar are still original to the church, and the blend of new and old is totally seamless.
The stained glass windows we see in the photo above were created by Kate Edwards who lives just up the street from the church. The left pane symbolizes the Garden of Eden, and the right pane is of New Jerusalem. The colors and intricate details in these pieces are extraordinary, bringing in joyful hues and tones into the heart of the church itself.
The cross we see has a wonderful significance. Hand-crafted by Len Brighton, this terrific piece depicts Jesus rising, and provides a bridge between the two stained glass windows. The combination of images also serves as a symbol of hope for everyone who has a chance to visit personally. The way the dramatic shadows played with the statue itself added great depth to the picture, almost giving it a three-dimensional feel.
The inside was decorated for the fall season and Canadian Thanksgiving. The little vignettes and splashes of color were a perfect companion to the warm tones produced by the rich woodwork and the color of the paint.
After exploring the inside as thoroughly as possible, it was time to head back outside and spend some time focused on some of the finer details in the gardens and rock wall and to spend some time with Jim just talking about the history of the facility and the community that surrounds it. This was time I truly enjoyed and will remember fondly.
Just inside the garden rock wall sit five naval graves from the early times of when the community was settled. These men all died in the area between 1895 and 1915 serving the community. We spent a few moments contemplating the lives these men led and the significance of their actions. These thoughts and feelings really added to the overall authenticity of the experience as a whole, leaving me with a distinct and almost palpable connection to the history here.
As time was drawing to an end on my visit, we made one final stop to enjoy the original heritage house that sits on the property. The house was built around 1905 and housed the minister of the church until the mid 1980’s. Today it serves as an office for, and the centre of an outreach ministry by the church, as well as providing space for the mission group Africa Community Technical Services Agency who are currently working tirelessly on water issues in Africa.
As we mentioned at the beginning of this post, this visit was just the beginning of a whole new adventure for us. It was through my work here, and my friendship with Jim Lyster, that I was given contact information for the Anglican Diocese of BC. A few emails and calls back and forth started an entirely new journey for us here at Toad Hollow, one that likely will carry on for many months as we visit up and down Vancouver Island photographing all the Anglican Churches. For this, we are eternally grateful to Jim for making his time available and for sharing the wonderful stories of St. Peter’s Anglican Church Comox.
Thank you so much for your visit to The Hollow today, we really appreciate it. As always, we love to hear from all our visitors, so please feel free to leave us any comments or thoughts you may have below. Until next time, my friends!