Trans Canada Glass

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By Helen Blackburn

Creemore holds the distinction for having the first church built when there wasn’t another for miles and miles, not even in Collingwood which was nothing much more than an idea. That was in 1854. How three of its stained glass windows found their way to Revelstoke, British Columbia, is an interesting tale.

In 1965 an account of a visit to Revelstoke appeared in the Creemore Star written by Mrs. Emery Fraser, who with her husband, was travelling to the west coast.

“The story as related by Mrs. Fraser is as follows:

“While travelling in western Canada recently we found ourselves one Sunday evening in Revelstoke, a town on the TransCanada Highway, high up in the lofty mountains of British Columbia. Searching for an evening church service we followed the sound of sacred recordings coming from the tower of a picturesque little white frame church.

“We went in and although the congregation was very small, we enjoyed a worshipful service and were greeted by a very friendly young rector. As we were leaving the church we were met with the usual query: ‘Where do you come from?’ When we replied Ontario he had a second question: ‘We have a window in this church that was originally in St. Luke’s Anglican Church, Creemore. Have you ever heard tell of Creemore?’ Needless to say we had a pleasant visit with Rev. John Dalton and we copied from a typewritten sheet on the wall by the window the following:

“‘ The window in this church bearing the inscription, ‘Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty,’ was originally installed in St. Luke’s Anglican Church, Creemore, Ontario, when the church was erected in 1854 by contractor Michael Steed, a member of the congregation. Subsequently, when the church was demolished in 1896, the window was replaced by a more modern structure. Michael Steed’s daughter, Isobel, settled in Revelstoke in 1890 as the wife of Henry Coursier. A church was erected in 1896 and through Mrs. Coursier’s efforts the window was brought from Creemore and installed in the new church in Revelstoke.’

“The window apparently was never dedicated so when the interior of the church was renovated in 1963, Mr. Eric Coursier of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, and D. Leon Coursier of Vernon, B.C., had the window re-installed and dedicated to the memory of their mother, Isobel Steed.”

But there’s more to the story than that. A phone call to Norma Steed Lawler brought some very interesting information. Norma’s great grandfather was Michael Steed, the head carpenter who built Creemore’s St. Luke’s Anglican Church in 1854. It sat on top of the hill in Creemore’s cemetery. A wing of the church remains, which serves as a shed on the property.

A young man, Henry Coursier, came to live with the Steed family. It is thought that he was a relative of Michael Steed’s first wife. At the time he came, Isabella (also known as Isobel), a daughter of Michael’s second marriage, was a young girl. After a time in Creemore Henry went west, lured by the San Francisco gold rush. He ended up living in Revelstoke, where by one means or another he and Isabella fell in love and wanted to marry. Father Michael would not give permission. In 1890 Henry and Isabella arranged to meet in Toronto, where they eloped.

Meanwhile in Creemore, the new St. Luke’s, built on Caroline Street in 1886, was in use. The old church remained on the hill until 1896 when, as you read earlier, the stained glass windows were removed and shipped to Revelstoke where they graced the new church.

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