Support Alberta’s Pioneer History! St. Margaret’s
The care of St Margaret’s is supervised by volunteers via the umbrella ‘Medicine Lodge Coulee Heritage Society’. Directors live in Bow Island, Milk River, Elkwater and Medicine Hat. The church is always open. In the course of a year almost 4,000 people visit in person from North America, U.K. and Europe. Since 1994 others visit via the internet at www.djcarter.ca.
This tiny prairie ‘cathedral’ is open to everyone. It is a place of meditation and renewal. Services are held on an irregular basis including baptisms, marriages, funerals and picnics. The church is handicap accessible via a ramp. The interior furnishings awaken architectural interest and originate from Medicine Hat, Redcliff, Moose Jaw, Grassy Lake, Milk River, Carlsbadt-Alderson, Calgary, Toronto and England. Five unique stained glass as crafted in Medicine Hat awaken considerable artistic interest.
A target sum of $12,500 will be allocated to meet insurance, maintenance, security and general upgrade goals including exterior painting to meet the harsh weather conditions.
A research project entails original historical documentation and photos. A complete listing of all burials with some basic biographical entries for each person. Here, Remembrance Day is everyday as this site honours the graves and memorial tablets of 12 veterans and civilians who served in the Second South African Boer War, World Wars One and Two, Suez Crisis, Korea and Vietnam.
The first church service was held in 1905 in the Bull's Head NWMP detachment's log quarters with members of The Force, local ranchers and sod busters present. The plans for St Margaret's were drawn up in that year but construction did not occur until 1912. It is the longest standing church south and east of Medicine Hat to the Alberta-Saskatchewan boundary and to the Canada-USA border.
In the 1940’s the church was also used as a one-room school house. The original school a quarter mile to the north was the victim of arson not just once but twice. The RCMP and other documents are on file and preservation of such materials is another project of this funding request. As a result of being both church and schoolhouse St. Margaret's is a living testimony to the opening of the Canadian west.
Publication of information sheets and a brief history of this building, cemetery and the Valley of the Medicine Lodge Coulee Creek is anticipated ‘in due course’. Such material will also reflect the rich geology, geography, and archeological evidence of this area plus aboriginal, metis and settlement patterns. The area has an abundance of fauna and flora which includes 18 semi tropical orchids. A wide variety of birds visit including Rocky Mountain Bluebirds and Turkey Vultures. White Tail deer, antelope, elk, moose coyotes, badgers, weasels, porcupine, skunk, Richardson ground squirrels (gophers) and cougar patrol these beautiful haunting hills.