St. Ann's First Nations Parish  by Carol Clifford

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Taken with: Nikon D60 – Lens: Nikkor 18-55mm

St. Ann’s First Nations Roman Catholic Parish. The first church building was consecrated in 1880. It burned down in 1900, but quickly replaced with this current structure. It is located in Duncan, on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada.

Father Pierre Rondeault established a mission to the Cowicahan Indians in 1858. In 1870 he built the old stone “Butter Church” on Comiaken Hill. But in 1890 he was forced to abandon that church and build St Ann’s just down the road where the diocese had clear title to the land. The original St Ann’s was destroyed by fire in 1902 and the current structure built in 1903. It continues to serve the Cowicahans and more recent settlers in the Duncan area. The Way of the Cross, a pilgrimage from St Ann’s to the White Cross visible on the top of Mt. Tzouhalem remains a Good Friday tradition.

Father Rondeault died in 1900 after 41 years with the Cowichan. He is buried beneath the small chapel at the back of St Ann’s.

The oldest gravestone is marked 1891.

For a historical perspective, consider the historical time line. Vancouver Island (British Columbia) became the self governing colony in 1849 with James Douglas, the factor of Hudson’s Bay Company atFort Victoria as the governor. Bishop Modeste Demers worked to establish the civilizing influence of the church on this ex-fur trading post. Bishop Demers went to Quebec to enlist the aid of priests and nuns willing to work as missionaries in the new colony on the edge of the frontier. Father Rondeauld, an Oblate priest answered the call with one other priest, two lay brothers including Brother Michaud and four Sisters of St Ann. They changed history. When they arrived back in Victoria in 1858, things had changed dramatically, Gold! The Barkerville gold rush was underway and new immigrants, rough miners, were everywhere. Father Rondeauld went to the Cowichan area and built three churches: the original log structure, the Stone Butter Church and St Ann’s. The original wooden church built in 1880 was destroyed by fire in 1902 and rebuilt in 1903. Father Rondeauld died in in 1900 and never saw the final St Ann’s but he is remembered and buried under the chapel at the back.

The Sisters of St Ann built in 1859 St Ann’s Academy in Victoria, a convent and school for girls. See waymark WM67BO for the history. The sisters also built Providence House near St Ann’s Church, Duncan in 1864. It remained a school for girls, many Cowichan natives for 100 years.

Brother Michaud who also came from Quebec in 1858 with Bishop Demers built St Andrew’s Church as a classic Quebecois church as the cathedral for the diocese. This became St Ann’s Chapel in 1871.

This handful of religious people have left there mark as they civilized the transition of British Columbia from a fur trading post to a self governing colony to a province in the Dominion of Canada. These waymarks trace this micro-history. From the small details on the accomplishments of individual people, we can better appreciate historical change than affects our destiny.

The oldest grave in the graveyard is dated 1890.
Date the Church was built, dedicated or cornerstone laid: 06/06/1890

Church is open to the public from: 9:00 AM To: 5:00 PM

Street address of Church:
1775 Tzouhalem
Duncan, BC Canada
V9L 5L6


canada, churches, british columbia, historic churches, cowichan valley, first nations

I live in beautiful British Columbia, Canada. In the past, photography was something I did casually, using very ordinary cameras, in order to capture family photos, travel memories, etc. With my first DSLR camera, a new world of creativity opened for me. I now see the world in a whole new way through the lens of my camera. I invite you to journey with me through my collection of photos and enjoy! It is my hope that you will find in my collection of work, some art that you will purchase.

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  • sigfusson
    sigfussonabout 5 years ago

    What a pretty church this is. I love how tall the steeple is!!! The light on the grave markers is quite lovely in this shot. Thanks so much for the history of this darling structure…very interesting stuff my dear! Cheers, S.

  • Thanks Sandra. Glad you liked it. I thought I might have gone over board with putting so much history but I guess it is important to understand the photo with the graveyard in front.

    – Carol Clifford

  • Antanas
    Antanasabout 5 years ago

    lovely photo

  • Thanks so much.

    – Carol Clifford

  • AnnDixon
    AnnDixonabout 5 years ago

    Gorgeous, we stay at a B&B in MIll Bay not far from here, on the same back road,

  • Glad you like it. Thanks. We are going to stay in Mill Bay in July for a few days. Watch for more photos. We are staying in a guest house on the water that belongs to a friend of ours who owns a hotel on Vancouver Island.

    – Carol Clifford

  • Bonnie T.  Barry
    Bonnie T. Barryabout 5 years ago

    A story book image, Carol! It almost reminds me of a gingerbread house. So inviting and homey and happy! Thanks for sharing this delightful image of St. Ann’s. Love it! And thank you for the great information you’ve supplied; such historical richness!

  • Hi Bonnie: I am so glad you like it. Thanks. My husband and I were driving down this little back road outside Duncan, B.C. one evening in mid-May while on Vancouver Island for a few days, and came across this church. It looking so striking in the evening light, I just had to stop and photograph it. I did not know the history of the church until I spoke to some people in Duncan and learned it had historical significance in the area. I dug deeper and thus the little bit of history I added to the photo. Cheers, Carol

    – Carol Clifford

  • cieloverde
    cieloverdeabout 5 years ago

    Congratulaciones por Feature !!!!……

  • Thank you so very much for your nice comment on my feature. Very much appreciated and very encouraging. Very best regards, Carol in Canada

    – Carol Clifford

  • Irene  Burdell
    Irene Burdellabout 5 years ago

  • This so nice. Thank you very much.

    – Carol Clifford

  • Marie Sharp
    Marie Sharpalmost 5 years ago

  • Thank you so much. That is just wonderful!!

    – Carol Clifford

  • Mike Oxley
    Mike Oxleyalmost 5 years ago

    What an absolutely beautiful church, Carol. Lovely capture and very interesting information. Please consider adding this wonderful image to Canadian Historical and Pioneer Sites

  • Hi Mike! Thanks so much for the great comment and the suggestion to add it to the Canadian Historical and Pioneer Sites. I did just that a few minutes ago. Cheers, Carol

    – Carol Clifford

  • Marie Sharp
    Marie Sharpalmost 5 years ago

  • Mike Oxley
    Mike Oxleyover 4 years ago

    Congratulations, Carol! Your entry has placed in the top ten of Canadian Historical and Pioneer Site’s first ever challenge “Historical Canadian Churches and Cathedrals”! And it has now been featured! Many thanks for participating.

  • Hi Mike: Thanks you very much. That’s great news. Perhaps the next time I get over to Vancouver Island where this church is located I can photograph the interior of the church. Stay tuned! Cheers, Carol

    – Carol Clifford

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