RELIGION AND BENEVOLENCE THE CHURCH MARCHES WEST
by Ila Borowsky
In the years 1897 to 1912, 594,000 immigrants arrived in Canada from continental Europe. These came from various ethnic and religious backgrounds. The churches did their best to provide priests and ministers to serve the different denominations; however the Elk Point area was large, settlers scattered, communications poor, and roads inadequate. This made it impossible to minister to each sect.
Dr. Robertson of the Presbyterian Church in Edmonton said, "Many are sturdy Protestants; the time has come for broadening the scope of our work to show Presbyterianism is not a creed of race or locality, but adapted to all nationalities and races". The difficulties were language barriers and old world tyrannies.
In 1905 Rev. W.F. Gold, minister at Vegreville, and Rev.W Simons were requested to look after the Galician work. In 1907 the presbytery of Vermilion was formed. In 1919 Methodists and Presbyterians coordinated their missions and Methodists served the area south of the North Saskatchewan River and Presbyterians the area to the north.
Methodism in the North West began in 1840. The Hudson Bay Co. invited the Wesleyan Methodist Church of England to send missionaries to their domain in North America under the protection of their Company.
In 1876 Fathers Albert Lacombe and Joseph-Adeodat Therien, both Oblate Fathers, founded the Metis Colony of St. Paul-des-Metis. The Oblates ministered to the surrounding settlers as time, weather and travelling conditions permitted. Elk Point was served in this manner until 1931, when it became a parish. The area south of the river was served by priests from Mundare and Vegreville