Historic Sites of Manitoba: St. Alban’s Anglican Church (486 Rathgar Avenue, Winnipeg)
No sooner was St. Luke's Anglican Church built in 1904 than attention turned to providing an Anglican facility for those living further south in Winnipeg. During the summer of 1906, two lots in the Lord Roberts area were purchased from real estate developer Martin T. McKittrick for the establishment of a mission church. Local fundraising began immediately and a new church building, designed by architect (and a member of St. Luke's) John Woodman, was constructed in the summer of 1907. It was a south-facing, one-storey, wood frame structure measuring 24 by 40 feet, with a small bell tower and three dormer windows on each site.
The first service in the new church was held on 8 September 1907. Just three years later, a large wing designed by architect Victor William Horwood was added to the existing structure, making it an L-shape with the altar in the east end. In 1911, a new room was added to the northwest corner, financed by the Women's Auxiliary, to providing a room for a meeting and sewing room. It was later used as a robing room by the women of the choir.
Plans to replace the original wooden church with a more substantial brick building were shelved due to financial pressures of the First World War and the Great Depression. However, in 1915, two additional lots were purchased from Martin T. McKittrick and only the church hall designed by architect David WIlliam Fair Nichols was built from his large plan on one of them. The space between the hall and church was used for tennis courts.
Fundraising to build a new church continued through the Great Depression and Second World War, motivated from earlier sketch plans by parishioner Gilbert C. Parfitt. Finally, in April 1947, approval was given to begin the project and Parfitt was approached about making working drawings for the building. He declined and the project languished until 1950 when architect Edgar Prain made new plans with his associate James Thomas Laurance “Laurie” Ward. The $60,000 building would adjoin the existing hall. J. R. Bugby Construction was the builder of the new church. The old building was then demolished.
The first sod for the new church was turned on 5 November 1950, the Grand Lodge of Manitoba laid its cornerstone on Whitsunday 1951, and the church was dedicated by Reverend Louis Ralph Sherman on 5 December 1951. A service of consecration, led by Reverend Walter Foster Barfoot, was held on 25 September 1957.
In 1957, church fundraising began again in earnest when the need for a better facility arose to house a Sunday School registration of around 400 children. Architect and parishioner Adrian Philip Wedding was one of the Church Wardens who oversaw the choosing of Ward and Macdonald as the architectural firm and general contractor A. Rebiffe Construction Company to demolish the old hall and build the new one on the site of the 1915 building. It was completed by March 1961.
In Spring 1998, when an aging congregation required better access to the altar, Adrian Philip Wedding designed a new altar at ground level from the sanctuary. Numerous other church volunteers assisted in its operation in manifold ways, including conducting Bible studies, tending to the boiler, and ensuring the security of the building.
The final service was held on 15 April 2007. After the church closed, its military Honour Rolls were transferred to St. Luke’s Anglican Church.
Photos & Coordinates
The History of St. Alban’s Anglican Church Fort Rouge, Winnipeg by Rolyat, April 1948 [Diocese of Rupert’s Land, St. Alban’s, W.008, Research File: 4a].
In This Place: The First Hundred Years of the Parish of St. Luke, Winnipeg 1897-1997. Winnipeg: St. Lukes, 1997, pages 19-20.
We thank Jean Endersby Rockey (1928-2018), Steven Canvin, Jim Fryza, Gail Singleton, and the Diocese of Ruperts Land for providing information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 22 January 2023