The Bralorne Community Church was built by Bralorne Mines in 1936. Initially, its “official” name was the Boultbee Memorial Church named after W.W. Boultbee, the Secretary-Treasurer of Bralorne Mines, who died in 1936.
The church was built by Bralorne Mines when the mining activity in the area began to have a degree of security and permanence, when it became apparent that Bralorne was not a gold rush town but a gold mining community. To this end, the Mines built the Bralorne Community Church, as well as the Community Hall (which also still stands), in an effort to provide a decent town for the miners and their families. As the only church in the gold mining community and surrounding area, the interfaith Bralorne Community Church served area residents for more than 60 years. The church held religious services and provided a social centre for community meetings and youth group activities.
By April, 1967, no more regular services were scheduled for the church. As the Mines continued to shut down, plans were made to remove the stained glass windows of the church for safekeeping. In 1971, facing complete closure, much of the church contents, including the stained glass windows, were donated to the church on Texada Island, BC.
In 1975, the Whiting family bought the entire town of Bralorne from the Mines with the dream of making it into a retirement community. The Whiting brothers did considerable restoration work on the church which was already falling into disrepair. They put a new roof on the church, re-wired it, sanded the floors, painted the outside and supported the collapsing basement walls, among other improvements.
But Bralorne never recovered from the closure of the mine, and as the population continued to decline even further, the church fell into disrepair again and was subject to vandalism and neglect over the years.
1998 prior to rehabilitation work, Source: Church Files
Bralorne Community Church 2020
In 1999, the Bralorne-Bridge River Valley Community Church Society, in partnership with B.C. Heritage Trust, the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District, Outward Bound, B.C. Hydro, Ainsworth Lumber, private donors and the Canada Millennium Partnership Program, restored the Bralorne Community Church. The society made the church more accessible to the public and was able to restore much of its past.
In 2004 the residents of the Mountain Institution, Agassiz, BC, a medium security correctional facility, created the stained glass version of Jesus standing and in 2005 stained glass windows made by Maryan Dennison were installed in the entrance foyer. The building remained in use for occasional services, luncheons for during Valley Reunions, exercise, ballet and yoga classes and Christmas concerts.
The Bralorne-Bridge River Community Church Society dissolved in 2013 and it came to light that as part of a subdivision plan submitted by the Whiting family, this property was designated as a community park. As a result, the SLRD was granted possession and control of the land and was responsible for the care of the property.
The SLRD, through Area A Select Funds retained a heritage consultant, Susan Medville, to inventory and conserve the historic documents and photographs found in the church, along with other historic items such as furniture, instruments and fixtures and a management plan for the church has also been developed. Subsequently, the SLRD signed a management agreement with the Bridge River Valley Community Association to ensure there is a local caretaker organization to watch over the facility and oversee the long-term management plan that has been developed.
In 2019 water was discovered seeping into the basement, the concrete steps at the basement entrance and the entire washroom floor. Investigation revealed cracks in the foundation through which the water was coming in and the church was closed until funding could be secured to repair the water issue. Funding was secured and the cracks were repaired along with improved drainage outside. However, the entire bathroom needed to be stripped of flooring and drywall in order to complete the repairs.
Also, in 2019, the main entrance porch and both the front and side steps were completely replaced.
In 2020, following the foundation repair, the bathroom was completely refurbished with new flooring, drywall and fully painted. Also, in 2020, the entire church was painted outside. Local contractors were employed for all of these projects.
Through a great deal of work by many volunteers, private and corporate donations, and the support of the whole valley, the Bralorne Community Church will once again be available as an interfaith centre of worship and community gathering place.
We would like to thank all of the volunteers and donors who have contributed so much over the years. A special thank you the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District and the Northern Development Initiative Trust for their project funding and support.
It is worth noting that very often government and private funding agencies will match your contributions and BRVCA has a grant writer who can undertake this task. This is an opportunity for all of us to help preserve and maintain one of our major heritage buildings.
Donations to the Bralorne Community Church can be made securely through the Pay Pal Button below. You do not have to have a Pay Pal account to make a credit card donation. All Donations are greatly appreciated. Thank you for your support!