St. Michael and All Angels Anglican Church - Spences Bridge, BC
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member T0SHEA
N 50° 24.970 W 121° 21.375
10U E 616779 N 5586195
Quick Description: At 3 in the afternoon a great rumbling prompted the citizens of Spences Bridge to scramble outdoors to investigate.
Location: British Columbia, Canada
Date Posted: 6/17/2019 1:12:21 PM
Waymark Code: WM10RNP
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member iconions
Views: 1

Long Description:
It was August 13th 1905 and the Great Landslide of Spences Bridge was underway. One side of Shawniken Mountain had broken away and was roaring down the mountainside to the valley below, destroying or covering everything in its path. In its path was the village of the Cook's Ferry Indian Band, containing 100 people.
On this day around 3pm, a great rumbling was heard as Shawniken Mountain (Arthur’s Seat) gave way, sending rock and debris to dam the Thompson River from bank to bank. The slide completely covered the First Nations village of approximately 100 people, situated at the foot of the mountain. Homes were destroyed, 18 lives were lost. Chief Lillooet (who was in his 90’s at the time) was visiting this village; and lost his life during the slide. The slide destroyed the eastbound Canadian Pacific Railroad tracks along the south side of the river. Luckily at this time the eastbound train was approaching the town just after the slide. The conductor was able to stop the train in time, before colliding with the debris. Accounts of the event say that the Thompson River rose 10-15 feet flooding the town. People worked frantically to create a channel, to allow water to pass through the slide’s “dam”. This process took about 4-5 hours of digging and shoveling. This slide was reported to have been the 3rd slide in approximately the same spot.
From the Cooks Ferry Band
Along with the 18 killed and as many injured, another victim of the slide was the Band's newly built church, St. Michael and All Angels. Fortunately, many had attended services at St. Michael and All Angels and were walking home at the time of the slide. Otherwise, they might have been in their homes, totally destroyed by the slide.

Also known as Nlak’pamux Church, this church is said to have been built shortly after the loss of the original, sometime between 1905 and 1907. Christened with the same name as the original, it is also St. Michael and All Angels.

A small wood framed, Gothic Revival building, it is quite straightforward in design, with a small narthex at the front of the rectangular nave, a small bell tower over the entrance and a small altar extending out the rear. The bell tower is of interesting design, rising out of the gable of the narthex, with a shingled steeple like a little brown helmet, surmounted by a wooden cross. The belfry vents, with gable tops, are open all around, exposing the 26 inch bell which still hangs within. The building is clad entirely in shingles, many of which are now coming adrift, indicating its recent years of inactivity. All openings are rectangular, lacking Gothic arches, doubtless concessions to economics and the need to complete the church in a timely fashion.

While the church is currently closed and locked, an interior view is available HERE. We can't say for how long the church has been unused on a regular basis, but we have learned that, being the only church in Spences Bridge, it is still used for weddings and funerals on rare occasions. As well, efforts are underway to recondition the building and restore it to regular service.

1905 GREAT LANDSLIDE
The slide occurred just as the CPR transcontinental express was approaching Spences Bridge, and gave the passengers the site of a lifetime. The towering bluff on the north side of the Thompson River about 200 feet high suddenly became detached and swept down into the river. The river is a quarter of a mile wide at this point, and the banks are about 40 feet high, but the channel was completely filled up with the mass of earth and debris that came down. The Indians had not a moment of warning and many were buried with the buildings the force of the water was so terrific that the railway track although nearly 100 feet above the bed of the river and 400 feet from the channel was covered with mud and debris. There are watermarks high up on the hill above the track. Some of the Indians when rescued were found to have been badly injured. Being cut about the head and covered with bruises. The rest of the church and one or two houses further from the rivers bank were piled up against the tracks embankment. The Thompson was backed up in the backflow flooded out the residences and stables on the edge of the River of Spences Bridge. Horses, cattle, and other livestock were caught up by the water and were rescued before the river got too deep.

“THE HOUSES WERE SWEPT AWAY AND THE RESIDENTS HAD NO WARNING TO ESCAPE ... THE CHURCH WAS TORN FROM ITS FOUNDATION AND ITS ROOF CARRIED FOR 200YD. (180 M). THE ALTAR APARENTLY REMAINED INTACT. A GRAVESTONE WAS CARRIED 200YD. FROM ITS ORIGINAL LOCATION AND BY CHANCE HALTED UPRIGHT ON A PILE OF SAGEBRUSH”.

Jessie Ann Smith (The Widow Smith of Spence Bridge) notes that “One young inhabitant of the reserve, Charles Walkem, assumed the leadership of the Cook’s Ferry Band after the disaster… After the landslide, Charles Walkem saw to the building of the new houses on the reserve and to the rebuilding of the church”.

MARCH 1907:IN THE AFTERMATH OF THE SLIDE, ARCHIBALD CLEMES TRANSFERED 7.56 ACRES OF LAND TO THE COOK’S FERRY INDIAN BAND; WHICH WAS CONVERTED IN 1969 INTO RESERVE LAND.THIS AREA WAS USED TO REBUILD THE VILLAGE LOST IN THE SLIDE. TODAY THIS LAND IS KNOWN TO AS SHAWNIKEN INDIAN RESERVE # 4B; WHICH INCLUDES 9 HOMES, THE OLD BAND HALL, AND THE ANGLICAN CHURCH.
From the Cooks Ferry Band

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Date the Church was built, dedicated or cornerstone laid: 1/1/1907

Age of Church building determined by?: Other reliable source

Street address of Church:
Shawniken Road
Spences Bridge, BC Canada
V0K 2L0


Primary website for Church or Historic Church Building: [Web Link]

Secondary Website for Church or Historic Church Building: [Web Link]

If denomination of Church is not part of the name, please provide it here: Not listed

If Church is open to the public, please indicate hours: Not listed

If Church holds a weekly worship service and "all are welcome", please give the day of the week: Not listed

Indicate the time that the primary worship service is held. List only one: Not Listed

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