This is a place I am drawn to, like a moth to a flame.  Each visit reveals new vignettes, new little stories featured in a way I didn’t notice before.  Either that, or somehow it’s changed.  This is a place that captures and reflects light in unique ways.   Each season, each time of day reveals different mysteries.  This is the Stone Butter Church, a house of worship that was designed and built with so much intent and love.  Even so, it’s service life was short and today it stands atop Comiaken Hill just outside of Duncan as a sentry.

Old Stone Butter Church – Cowichan Valley, BC, Canada

Old Stone Butter Church – Cowichan Valley, BC, Canada –

The first snow of the season dusted our landscape with nothing short of pure magic.  Landscapes take on an entirely different life in settings like this, and when the snows come you will surely find me at some point standing on top of the hill admiring and shooting what I consider to be my photographic muse.

We have a special tag here on our blog dedicated to this wonderful place, “Old Stone Butter Church“.  As time goes on and we return for visit after visit, the archives grow deeper.  If this is your first visit with us to the church, you may like to read our detailed posting on the history, “The Ghostly Hallows“.  There’s a lot of info in that post including the story about the church and how it ended up on Ripley’s Believe It or Not.

Each season casts the church in a different light.  Textures and colors take on different aspects as the natural surrounding light changes over the course of the year.  The church was active for only a very brief period of time, the congregation built a new church in the valley and moved to it shortly after this one was completed and consecrated.  Yet somehow, over 100 years later, the structure still stands.  Time and the relentless dampness of west coast winters have taken their toll, as have vandals and local youth looking for canvases for their art.  The builders and parishioners are now likely long gone, yet still we find the Old Stone Butter Church standing guard high atop Comiaken Hill, overlooking the valley, under the watchful eye of Mount Tzouhalem.  It creates a dramatic presence in a very dramatic part of Vancouver Island, a rugged place that is home to tall forests and mountains and beautiful shores on the ocean.

I don’t know what’s in store next for this old church.  As I age, I find that time seems to be kinder to the church than it does to me at times, so I can’t help but believe that long after I am gone it will still be standing.  This makes for the perfect subject, the perfect place to return time and time again.

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit us here at The Hollow today.  As always, we love to hear from all our visitors, so please feel free to leave us your comments below.  Until next time, my friends!




  1. avatar Bev Oliver says:

    Scott, what a lovely shot of this stately, ghostly old edifice. I think I agree with you; we should all look so good at that age! I hope you keep these shots coming. Winter suites her immensely, I think.

    • Thank you so much, Bev!!! That means an awful lot to us! It’s definitely my favorite little spot to visit here in the valley. We’ve got one more shot coming up in the near future that is just amazing, we think. Thanks for your friendship and support here today, our dear friend!

  2. avatar Jenny Nelson says:

    I’m so happy to see that the magical Butter Church is still standing, at least 20 years since I saw it last. Your photo captures so perfectly the forlorn but stalwart little structure.

    • Jenny, we just love it when you pop by to see us and leave your comments, thank you very very much!! Best wishes to you, my friend! We’re still working towards our project of Oak Park, I captured a couple shots of it in the snow I’ll be sharing soon we’re sure you’ll love!!

  3. avatar Jim Nix says:

    First things first: great shot. I love it. Love the fog, the snow, the processing, the comp, all of it.
    Second: I know this is your muse, and she is worthy beyond measure. I can see the attraction you have to this spot. It’s fabulous.

    I hope someday that I can get there and see her (and photograph her, ‘natch) b/c this place is just so awesome. Great work my friend!

    • Thank you Jim, I’m beaming from ear to ear here this morning with your wonderful comments!! You’ve always got friends in us Toads up here, kind sir, if you come we’ll show you this church and some of our other treasures and secrets on the island!!

  4. I was thinking about stopping there one day after the snowfall and wonder now whether I would have seen you there. Love the greyness of the sky and mists. Very nice coloring in the stonework as well. So Cowichan Bay.

    • It really is, Joseph, thank you so much for commenting and visiting here today, we really do appreciate it! One day we’ll undoubtedly meet up at the church, it’s bound to happen!

  5. I love this place, great shot! I remember your past shots, awesome

  6. avatar Lois Bryan says:

    I’m always drawn to the neglected and abandoned as well, so I can understand your fascination with this lovely little structure. Appreciate the bit of history that goes with. I took a moment to view your previous posts of this old church and must say I love this one the best … outstanding composition!! Love the dusting of snow. Very well done!!!

    • Thank you SO much Lois, that means the world to us! We really appreciate your kind support and you taking the time to check out our posts on this site. It’s definitely one of my very favorite spots here on the island!

  7. avatar Jim Denham says:

    Seems perfectly at home with the fog and mist moving around it! Fantastic image and great old church! Hope it continues to provide inspiration to you Toad!

  8. avatar Len Saltiel says:

    I can see why you are drawn to this church Toad. The way you have framed it with the fog as a backdrop give a mysterious mood that begs for exploration. Great post.

  9. avatar Jimi Jones says:

    What a beauty, Toad. This is an outstanding shot and I love the background and the mood it sets.

  10. avatar Edith Levy says:

    Oh My Toad what an absolutely exquisite image. I love the mysterious nature of it due to the fog and I love that I can se inside the church. You’ve outdone yourself.

  11. avatar Andy Hooker says:

    Under these conditions it looks more spooky than it did on the summer shoot shown in Ghostly Hallows. It’s remarkable that is has survived for so long with a largely intact roof, but the glass-less windows are the hollow eyes of something that on a day like this would certainly spook me.

    • Terrific comments, Andy, thank you so much for taking the time to leave these for us and for everyone to enjoy! You’re a true scholar and a gentleman, my friend!

  12. avatar jmccastner says:

    All Those church pictures are so pretty! One that really caught my eye was the tree framed by the non-glassed window. How fun!
    /// BTW, I am a Christian — I say this because of the negative spiritual factors you’ve mentioned w. historical support and serenity challenges.
    /// I do know that God the: Father/Son Jesus Christ/Holy Ghost (aka as the Holy Spirit) is stronger spiritual factor than the enemy. In fact, A Believer can claim the blood of Jesus Christ over him/her self and experience a personal protection from that enemy.
    /// I realize this latter part is on and beyond the critiquing of the pictures — however, I believed it was important for you to be alerted to it.

    • Thank you so, so much for taking the time to visit us here at The Hollow, and for leaving your comments. We always appreciate to hear the perspectives of everyone who visits and we certainly appreciate the time you took to leave these. This is a wonderful place, one that reveals magic for photography, and we hope that you come and see us once again as we continue to shoot and share pictures from the site.

      • avatar jmcastner says:

        Thanks for ur response. You have such beautifully crafted pictures. I anticipate enjoying the blessing of seeing several of ur photo works. I read ur background that shared ur motivation to photograph the area. We ur fans R blessed to have ur camera eye of appreciation shared w. us..

  13. avatar Astaroth says:

    This is a actually beautiful place. I always like the pictures you show us about this place. The mystical fog behind the building, the winter white tones, and its graffited heart.

    Great post. Great photo. Great place :)!

  14. avatar jmcastner says:

    Re. made ur whole day… U can enjoy knowing that my comments come from the heart! And, it is a blessing 2enjoy ur photography! I definitely need to give credit to ur comment on Steve Beal’s snow accented river — that’s how I learned about U & later ur work & the rest is history.
    So, now U R doing the various Parishes. This will be aesthetically interesting. Already enjoyed ur 1st on on the organ. I’ll put my comments on it later on that picture specific. But, loved how the hand pump saved the service/the day!

    • What wonderful comments to see, my friend, thank you SO much once again! We just love connecting with folks like this, we hope you enjoy our running series here. This project will likely take us up to 2 years to complete there is just so much material involved, so we hope we can retain your interest through the entire lifecycle of the project! 🙂 We’ll certainly be working hard to do so! Thank you once again, my friend!

  15. avatar Rick Louie says:

    Such an awesome shot, like it’s just appearing out of the fog! This reminds me of a stone church we have here in Colorado.

    • Oh cool, Rick! I know you guys have some terrific sites like this in your area, I love following your blog. Do you have any specific shots of this particular church you could point us too?

  16. avatar Elaine Williams says:

    This is a beautiful photo! It looks so mysterious and I would love to visit it. I live in Shawnigan Lake, where abouts is this Church – directions please! Thank you so much.

    • Thanks for your wonderful comments, Elaine! We really appreciate connecting with you here on our blog and hope to see you again! The church is actually located on private property, so most folks are discouraged from visiting directly. To find it, here is a link to it on Google Maps. It is in our opinion one of the most special and sacred places on the island, it’s a real experience to see in person!! Many thanks for your kind visit today!!

  17. Your featured photo of Old Stone Butter Church is haunting and beautiful. I can see why you’re drawn to this place. You’ve captured the church’s majesty and frailty throughout the seasons in your impressive collection. Thanks for sharing your unique photographic perspective. I always enjoy receiving new issues of your newsletter. Cheers!

    • Thanks SO SO much Chris, that means the world to us up here! We’re thinking of you and your family and hope that all is well for you, my good good friend! One day, perhaps we’ll get a chance to meet in person, I’d really like that Chris! Best wishes, kind sir!

  18. avatar Vida Hillard says:

    I went and investigated the old church in June or July 2015 and i was told it was private property and get off. I just finished taking some pictures of the church and was heading out anyways. I sure has lots of vandalism done to the inside….. the church still stands with the holes in the roof and bird poop on the floors…..

    • I have heard rumors to this end recently, so it would seem they are true. It is, indeed, private property, although I am not clear why recently visitors have been asked to leave when before they weren’t. I hope your shots were worth it, it’s one of the most amazing structures I have ever seen in my life. 🙂