At the turn of the 20th century Anglicans in what would become Port Coquitlam had no church or minister. When a minster could come out from New Westminster, they held services in the school-house or the Municipal Hall. Then Rev. William Govier was assigned to Maple Ridge. He began seven years of regular services at Westminster Junction (Port Coquitlam) – still without a church building.
It was time for the little congregation to build a church. Mr. Price loaned $500 for the undertaking. Mr. and Mrs. John Smith, Mr. J. Gatley, Mr. R.C. Galer and Mr. Price formed a committee to oversee construction. Parishioners and volunteers erected the new church on Dewdney Trunk Road [now Kingsway] west of the Coquitlam River Bridge.
The church was dedicated on November 20, 1910, the feast day of St. Catherine of Alexandria. Rain made the dedication service a near disaster. Floods delayed the train so that the Bishop arrived in time only to board the returning train. Archdeacon Pentreath also arrived too late for the service, which went ahead under the direction of Rev. Govier.
The church still lacked a permanent minister. Rev. Govier filled in until the end of February 1911. Temporary helpers conducted the services until July 1911, when the first vicar, Rev. Herbert Fane Edge, arrived.
A Move across the River
Over time the center of Port Coquitlam shifted from the west to the east side of the Coquitlam River. In 1931, after several years of discussion, the congregation decided to move the church to a more central location. The parish purchased two lots on McAllister Avenue with plans to relocate the
|Crossing the River|
The move began on November 3. A road was cut through the bush. The church was loaded onto skids and dragged to the river. A dredge operator offered his machine to assist with the crossing.
The river was to present some challenges. First, floodwaters rose, threatening to carry away the church, which was waiting at the riverbank. The vicar, assisted by several men, managed to secure it. When the flood subsided, the dredge began to haul the building across the river. There was an anxious moment when a skid broke, but the dredge pulled the church free and completed a safe crossing.
A New Church
|The Church on Its New Site|
The relocated church stood on McAllister Avenue for over 30 years. In 1954, the men of the congregation erected a parish hall. By then the original church had entered its final decade. A local building inspector eventually declared the building unsalvageable. While services carried on in the parish hall, members of the congregation constructed a new church building beside the hall. Bishop G.P. Gower dedicated the new St. Catherine’s on October 13, 1963.
|The New (1963) Building on McAllister Avenue|
The new St. Catherine’s building was to survive fewer than 40 years. Built on shifting river sand, it began to subside. By 1999 a second church building had been declared unsafe. The congregation held their last worship service in the building on June 6, 1999.
Despite the loss of the church building, the parish of St. Catherine’s survives. Trinity United Church members offered to share their building. In 2009, St. Catherine's celebrated the centenary of its first church and 10 years of services at Trinity. Today the St. Catherine's congregation is moving toward an agreement with Trinity's congregation for joint management of the church building. With expanding outreach programs including a soup kitchen and Messy Church, the congregation looks forward to St. Catherine’s second hundred years and a rewarding partnership with our United Church neighbours.
|1999: Tearing Down the McAllister Ave. Building|
|Current Location - 2211 Prairie Ave.|