Historic Kirkella church finds a new home

There is not much left of the community of Kirkella, located just west of Elkhorn on the Trans-Canada Highway. At one time it had a grain elevator, school, store, post office a community hall and band and a church. Today there are a few homes and the church still standing. Time and Mother Nature were taking their toll on these buildings. The Kirkella Anglican Church was built

in 1906 and held its last service in 1971. Since its closing, the ownership passed on to the Chrisp family of the community. 

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Just down the road to the east is the village of Elkhorn, with its great museum display of buildings, which show the history of the area. The members of the museum’s Restoration Club felt that the church would make a good addition to the museum site displays. Last fall the building was moved and a cement foundation built for it.

During the winter months work was started on the steeple and bell tower that had been removed during the move. At Lynn Tutthill’s work shop volunteers worked to restore it, with local building contractor Blaine Kliever, doing some of the more technical repairs.

Lifelong village resident and active volunteer Lee Hodson took on a special restoration task. Using the original ornate wooden cross from on top of the steeple as a pattern he made a replica, which is now in place.
Recently, Lynn Tutthill brought in lifting machinery to place the bell tower and steeple on the church. He had to wait for two days because of the high winds that blew through the area. Due to the ongoing COVID restrictions, no completion date is known, but club members are restoring
some of the original furniture that was left in the church.

A work crew of volunteers with mops and brooms will be needed at a later date to clean up the inside of the building and do some painting and decorating.

The warmer weather will allow a local contractor to start replacing the roof and repairing the windows, but most of the work on the project has been done by volunteers from area communities. These people have put in hundreds of hours on the project, with many more needed to complete the restoration of the historic church.

The funds for the project have been raised by the Restoration Club and from government and private grants and many personal donations. A recent development that will add to the project is the donation of a suitable bell. Historic research showed that the church did not have a bell, but the Chrisp family have saved the old Kirkella community school house bell and are donating it to the church project. Volunteers also hope that the church baptismal font that disappeared a few years ago will show up. The end result of all these efforts will be to restore the church to what a turn of the century prairie church looked like. Perhaps it might bring back memories of the many services held here and the people whose ancestors attended this church.

 

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