History ~ Founding of the Parish
The founding of the Parish of St. Paul’s in the West End
When the Canadian Pacific Railway arrived in Vancouver, the railway workers moved from their old centre at Yale on the Fraser River to a new district that they called Yaletown. Their new homes fell within the boundaries of the Parish of St. James and it was the Reverend Henry Fiennes-Clinton, Rector of St. James, who addressed their spiritual needs.
The first Anglican service in what was to become the present-day Parish of St. Paul’s was held in 1889 in a mission room located on Seymour Street. Meanwhile, two lots were purchased from the Canadian Pacific Railway on Hornby Street where the Marriott Hotel now stands. A church was built and the first Eucharist in the parish was celebrated there on March 24, 1889.
In 1890, the Reverend Ernest Flewelling took the place of Father Clinton as priest-in-charge, and then became rector when, in 1891, the Parish of St. Paul’s was formally separated from the mother Parish of St. James. His incumbency was succeeded by the short-lived terms of the Reverend Thomas Outerbridge (1894-1895) and the Reverend Henry Bowers (1895-1896).
The parish included the downtown peninsula south of Nelson Street, and Fairview on the south side of False Creek. This proved unsatisfactory to parishioners living in Fairview and in 1898, they separated to form the Parish of Holy Trinity, which meant that the church was no longer at the geographical centre of the parish. At the same time, the West End was being developed as a residential district, while Yaletown was given over principally to industry.
In 1896, the Reverend Harold Underhill became the fourth rector and during his incumbency, the parishioners decided to move the church to a location closer to where most of them lived. The building, which, photographs show, had been built with a small spire, had by now acquired a more substantial tower. In 1898, it was placed on skids and winched up Davie Street, then only a clearing in the bush. The building was placed on Jervis Street at the corner of Pendrell Street.
The new location was presumably more convenient, but the 250 square-metre church was too small for the expanding membership. So in 1903, the building was moved again, this time to the adjoining lot on Jervis Street, leaving the original lot for a new building. (It was also re-aligned through 90 degrees.)
To build a new, permanent church, St Paul’s Church Building Company Ltd. was founded with a capital of $50,000. The architect William Archer proposed either a frame-and-stone building seating 420 worshippers at a price of $8,000 or a stone building seating some 550 worshippers at a price of $18,000. The former proposal was adopted. The style of the resulting church is classic Gothic with many beautiful stained glass windows, dark wood beams, and wainscoting. Archer’s plan included a tower with a tall spire at the north-west corner, but lack of funds prevented its construction.
Building commenced in 1904. In 1905, the cornerstone of the existing church was laid by the Bishop of New Westminster at that time, and the church was finished ready for use that same year. Now, fourteen years into its independent life, the parish was fully ready to play its role in the life of the West End.
The new and old churches stood alongside each other. The old church was used as a church hall. Nothing of it now remains except the Bagnall Window, which was taken from the old church and set in the west wall of the new church. In 1976, the City of Vancouver designated the new church a heritage building. As such, it cannot be torn down and the integrity of its design cannot be altered.
Canon Underhill resigned the incumbency in 1908, and his term was followed by the relatively brief incumbencies of the Reverend Abram de Pencier (1908-1910) and the Reverend Frederick Chadwick (1910-1913). Then came the thirty-year incumbency of the seventh rector, Canon Harold King (1914-1944).