St. Anne’s church in Bonnyville is getting ready for another move.
The church was built at Rife in the 1930s, and was moved to its present location
in 1957. It was a functioning church until just a few years ago.
It will be moved to the Bonnyville museum site later this month.
“Last year, the Catholic Church in town came to us to see if we wanted to take the church off their hands rather than have it destroyed,” said Bonnyville and District Historical Society (BDHS) president Morris Mickalyk. “It didn’t take very long to convince us that we needed to keep it.”
St. Anne’s was one of three churches that stood at Rife at one time. Mickalyk says that reflects the importance of small community churches in the local culture at the time of settlement.
The tiny chapel saw continued use in Bonnyville after being moved there in 1957. “There were Masses held in here, there were weddings held in here. It was a go-to place up until a few years ago,” Mickalyk said.
The BDHS will do some restoration and repair after the church arrives at the museum, and hopefully give the structure a new life.
“Our intention is to move it over there and put power to it,” Mickalyk said. “It can seat about 50 people plus the clergy, so we want to make it a useable church that people can go to the museum property and utilize it for what its purpose is.
“It’ll be an historic piece of property to be kept forever.”
The BDHS has contracted a mover for the job, and they are confident the structure is sound. Mickalyk says the BDHS has received major financial support from the Town of Bonnyville and the M.D. of Bonnyville to help with the cost of the move.
The property, currently owned by the Diocese of St. Paul, will be acquired by Lakeland Lodge and Housing Foundation to create a green space for residents of the adjacent Bonnylodge to enjoy.
“It’s a win-win-win for everybody,” Mickalyk said.
At present, there is no bell in the church’s tower. Mickalyk said the BDHS is trying to acquire the original bell. He would not say who currently owns it or where it is.
The bell was forged in France and shipped to Rife at the time the church was built.
“We’re working on trying to acquire it. There’s some historical inscriptions on the bell that mean a lot to the history of the church, so we want to see if we can get it,” Mickalyk said.
The BDHS hopes to open the church to visitors at its new location this fall.