Saint Anselm's Anglican Church. (Submitted)

Boswell Historical Society fundraising to purchase St. Anselm’s Anglican Church

The church will become a new gathering space for the community, and a preserved piece of history

From Boswell Historical Society

You may have noticed a “For Sale” sign posted on St. Anselm’s Anglican Church in Boswell. If purchased privately, an important part of Boswell’s history would be lost, so the local Boswell Historical Society (BHS) has been stirred to action. In March 2022, BHS reached an agreement with the Anglican Diocese of the Kootenay to purchase the church. Approximately $100,000 will need to be raised for the purchase by Oct. 12.

Fundraising will begin on Sunday, May 8, with the Mothers’ Day Strawberry Tea and Celebration of Local History from 1 to 4 p.m. at St Anselm’s. The afternoon will include a sale of local history books, fine art raffle tickets, music by Deberah Shears, and refreshments by donation.

The History of St. Anselm’s Church in Boswell:

This small Pan-Abode church was erected “with much fundraising and hard work”, on land donated by the Embree family. The original furnishings and liturgical hardware from the Memorial Hall sanctuary were moved to the new Church and the first service was held in St. Anselm’s on September 15, 1963. St. Anselm’s was used for numerous religious celebrations and memorial services led by itinerant Anglican clergy, including the Reverend Randy Wood. The Church inventory includes antique furnishings, liturgical linens and hardware, artistic wall hangings, and commemorative plaques. The steeple and belfry house a beautifully worn brass bell, and an antique stained-glass window lights the entrance. Decorative wall hangings by Edna Jeffery and William Fraser grace the interior walls of St. Anselm’s, and five commemorative stained-glass panels made by Barry Jeffery continue to fill the church with beautiful light. The sturdy lectern, hand-crafted by Harry Beaumont and Lawson Hepher in 1911 for the first church service in Boswell, is still in use. The simple cross above the altar was donated by Kenneth Wallace in honour of his first wife Laura Symonds who arrived in Boswell in 1912 to become the first teacher in the growing community.

Mary Smith-Carruthers served as the church organist and director of the St. Anselm’s choir for 35 years, beginning in 1978. Founding choir members were Edna Jeffery, Adele Bohmke, Dorothy Armstrong, Betty Brown, Sonja Bohmke, and Marion Wilson. Sharon Lymbery of Gray Creek was often featured as a soloist in celebration of her beautiful soprano voice. The small choir practiced weekly, accompanied the monthly services at the church, and provided choral music for many community events.

Smith-Carruthers and her choir members held strawberry teas and other fundraising events to keep the church and grounds in good repair, to purchase a new organ and to update the lighting, roofing, heating system, and eaves troughs. Mary’s funeral service was held in St. Anselm’s Church on Sept. 6, 2014 with community members filling the small church to overflowing. Deberah Shears led the Choir in their final performance and the last religious service to be held at St. Anselm’s Church. Smith-Carruthers, an angel in our midst, would want us to preserve this beautiful building for future generations.

A Partnership Between St. Anselm’s Church and the BHS:

In 2016, BHS entered into a lease agreement with the Anglican Diocese of the Kootenay permitting the society to use St. Anselm’s for meetings and special events in return for maintaining the property and paying the annual Fortis Bill and other maintenance costs. Neil Arrowsmith, a local craftsman and finishing carpenter, completed a much-needed repair to the cross and belfry and led a group of BHS members in re-painting the wooden siding and sprucing up the steps and entranceway. The society has held numerous board and annual general meetings and hosted a series of invited public lectures by local historians in the church’s warm and welcoming space.

Raising the Money to Purchase St. Anselm’s Church:

To raise the $100,000 for the church purchase, BHS board members are preparing grant applications to Columbia Basin Trust, Regional District of Central Kootenay, and other organizations, and also planning fundraising activities.

Fundraising efforts begin on May 8 at St. Anselm’s Church with the launch of a Fine-Art Raffle and a special Mother’s Day Strawberry Tea and Celebration of Local History. Copies of Boswell Beginnings and Beyond (2021) will be available for sale, and we have invited BHS life-members Greg Nesteroff, Michael Cone, and Luanne Armstrong to attend with their own recent publications. A Rummage Sale is scheduled for July 2, and in August we will release an online auction and host a fundraising Concert on August 13 by our long-time supporters, Calgary’s Horizon Ridge. A final fundraising dinner is planned for Boswell Memorial Hall for early September featuring a menu of favourite community recipes reproduced in our recent publication. Sales of Boswell Beginnings and Beyond are ongoing and will contribute to our fundraising efforts, but individual donations will also be essential. We are optimistic that, together with funding from grants and our various fundraising activities, we will be able to meet our goal!

The Heart – A Gathering Place:

St. Anselm’s Church will be renamed The Heart – A Gathering Place. We are partnering with Ktunaxa Nation Council, Traditional Knowledge and Language Sector, to translate all or part of that name on our signage and correspondence. We plan to support a variety of community-based programs designed to contribute to quality of life on the East Shore and to promote health and well-being for all. We will create a comfortable and inclusive place for people to connect and find the support they need in a fairly isolated rural community. We will be developing and sharing our ideas about proposed community-focused functions in the coming weeks and considering suggestions offered by community members. We encourage you to share your vision about how The Heart – A Gathering Place might be used to enrich our lives.

The directors of BHS hope that their initiative to purchase the beautiful and historic St. Anselm’s Church property meets with the approval and applause of residents along the East Shore. We also hope that you will open your hearts and donate to the cause and/or participate in our various fundraising initiatives. All contributions will be greatly appreciated.

We welcome you to our society, should you want to become a member (annual $5/person, $10/family, or $50 for a family life membership). If you are prepared to make an individual donation to support the purchase of St. Anselm’s, you can do so by sending a cheque made out to the Treasurer, Boswell Historical Society, 12637 Hwy 3A, Boswell V0B 1A4, or through an e-transfer to boshistsoc@gmail.com. Watch for the launch of our Go-Fund-Me page and website, and visit our new Facebook page The Heart – A Gathering Place to see photos of this beautiful and beloved property. In the event that our agreement to purchase has to be withdrawn due to insufficient funds, the board will return all donations.

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