St Anne’s: Unearthing buried memories

Dec -- Friday night outside with stanne

St Anne’s parishioners gathered to open time capsules hidden behind the 1954 and 1985 corner stones.

It was one hundred years in the making, one year in the planning, and three days in celebration; namely, the  100th Anniversary of the Parish of St Anne, Winnipeg! The weekend of events, which took place between September 27 and 29, enabled a remembrance of past times and a renewal of old friendships for many.

The festivities began at 7:00 pm on Friday evening, with the removal of two cornerstones and time capsules safely tucked away behind them. There were a few anxious moments over the weather though, as dark clouds loomed overhead while Rev Michael Bruce led a group of inquisitive folks outside on the Burrin Avenue side of the church. We wasted no time as Father Michael began the expedition with a prayer, and quickly followed it with the removal of the 1985 granite cornerstone and time capsule by two ex-wardens, Pat Panchuk and Ted Ash. The opening of the 1954 limestone cornerstone and removal of its time capsule were performed by two brothers, Terry and Tom Armstrong, who actually took part in the original ceremony to place the capsule behind that year’s cornerstone.

The years 1954 and 1985 represent two major turning points in the appearance and history of St Anne. The 1954 cornerstone signifies the completion of the upper level of the well-known “basement church”, while the 1985 cornerstone represents the completion of the upper and lower ramp, and basement renovations we know today. Both projects had been designed by an avid parishioner and architect, the late Laurie Ward.

The time capsule contents were revealed to about 75 curious onlookers.

The time capsules were brought inside to the Laurie Ward Hall, where the contents were revealed to about 75 curious onlookers. The 1954 memorabilia had been carefully stowed away in a lovely oak box, secured by a padlock and accompanied by the necessary keys, so all the contents were in perfect condition.  It contained a five page “Extension Fund” document that had been prepared to explain the dire need for the expansion, a list of the members from the Building Fund Canvass Committee, a one dollar (paper) bill, an envelope containing a dime that the Archbishop of Canterbury used to purchase a bag of candy at St Anne’s September Tea, a “Laying of the Cornerstone” order of service dated October 17, a copy of the Kildonan Weekly Post community paper, and the front sections of the October 16 Winnipeg Free Press and Winnipeg Tribune. Everyone had a good chuckle when Tom Armstrong told us that he’d been a Tribune carrier at the time and had provided that copy of the newspaper out of his own pocket; and was still waiting to be reimbursed!

There was only one item behind the 1985 cornerstone; a copy of the 70th anniversary parish registry from 1983. Unfortunately it didn’t stand the test of time or weather very well, and was impossible to view as the pages had become stuck together. Imagine our surprise and pleasure when a former parishioner, Michael Ward, happened to bring a copy of that very document!

Following the Centennial Eucharist service Sept 29, worshippers gathered for lunch in the church hall.

Following the Centennial Eucharist service Sept 29, worshippers gathered for lunch in the church hall.

The evening’s festivities were rounded out with a Meet and Greet Reception and assortment of appetizers, dainties and beverages. Many were delightfully entertained as they searched for their family’s photo from thirty years ago in the 70th anniversary registry, and as they poured over the 1954 time capsule contents, particularly the newspaper article about the “new Winnipeg Arena”.

A Dinner and Dance on Saturday evening attracted a crowd of 120 people at the Garden City Community Centre on Kingsbury Avenue. As the guests arrived and during supper, they had the opportunity to watch a large movie screen where a DVD of 500 plus photos portraying the history and lives of the people of St Anne was shown. Bob Egerton served as MC for the event and called upon The Rt Rev Donald Phillips to say the grace, and after supper to share his thoughts on the momentous occasion.

Following the scrumptious buffet dinner prepared by Lewis Catering, Bob acknowledged the Chairman of the Anniversary Committee, Bob Wedlake, its members (Dianna Allan, Fran Anderson, Terry Armstrong, Arlene and Bob Egerton, Linda Fisher, Linda & Dennis King, Mary Latham, Joan Pawloski, Lorna Prescott, Linda Tomanek and Michelle Wedlake), and the many months they spent planning the weekend’s activities.

It was a joy to have so many current and prior parishioners join us.

We were fortunate to have our archdeacon, Ven Godfrey Mawejje, join us for the evening, and a number of past priests; namely Very Rev Ralph Baxter, Rev David Adams, Rev Simon Blaikie, and Rev Canon Henry Falconer (who undertook placement at St. Anne while preparing for his ordination). Bob also introduced St Anne’s current co-incumbents, Rev Michael Bruce and Rev Liz Richens (on maternity leave), and Rev Canon Rick Condo (filling in for Liz’s maternity leave).

Rev Jamie Howison had sent his regrets, and in his absence Bob read Jamie’s heartfelt letter of gratitude thanking the people for their support and kindness during his time at St Anne. Following supper, entertainment carried on for those that wished to dance or simply listen to music provided by BJ’s Music, or just visit with friends and renewed acquaintances.

99-year-old parishioner, Eunice Ingimundson cuts the cake

99-year-old parishioner, Eunice Ingimundson cuts the cake

The celebrations concluded at St Anne’s church on Sunday, with a Holy Eucharist Service at 11:15 am with Rt Rev Donald Phillips presiding and preaching, and Rev Michael Bruce assisting. Current choir members, who were joined by past choristers as well as friends from St Barnabas, put on a beautiful singing performance. Musical accompaniment was provided by our current Choir Director, Lori Rahn and prior Directors Michele and Rick Hemmerling. It was a joy to have so many current and prior parishioners join us for this service, as well as for the entire weekend’s events.

A luncheon followed the service with sandwiches, fruits, vegetables, cupcakes and a cake crafted by one of our parishioners, Gail Perkins, depicting St. Anne’s lovely stained glass windows. We also celebrated former parish priest, Rev Simon Blaikie’s birthday, and called upon St Anne’s oldest and distinguished parishioner at the age of 99 years, Eunice Ingimundson to cut the cake. It was a beautiful conclusion to a successful weekend of celebration, thanksgiving and fellowship.

By Fran Anderson