Alberta history

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J.J. Rouse ministered in Edmonton in the years 1903 to 1905. His biography mentions that an assembly of about 30 people commenced in that city in 1905. This may be the earliest assembly in Alberta. In the early 1900s, four assemblies came into being in Edmonton: the Boyle Street Assembly, the Norwood Assembly, the 97th Street Hall, and the YMCA Assembly, Edmonton, Alberta. The latter met at the YMCA under the leadership of Mr. Tom Cooper.

The Norwood Assembly was begun around 1926 by William Cummings along with several others including J. Thompson, S. McCaughey, and A. Tandy. It was a store-front operation in an old building and about 40 in fellowship. The Norwood, Boyle Street, YMCA, and 97th Street assemblies had little interaction with one another. However, in October 1933, a young man from Vancouver, Albert McLaren, began to hold Gospel services nightly in the 97th Street Hall; there were many conversions and William Cummings heard about it.

He took his four sons to those meetings and they were all converted at that time. William Cummings had vowed to the Lord that wherever his boys were saved, there he would fellowship. When he broke this news to the Christians at Norwood, they said ‘if you go, we all go,’ with the result that in a matter of a few months all of the Edmonton assemblies merged at the 97th Street Hall, with approximately 125 in fellowship at the time. Some of the surnames of the brethren from these early days were Gregory, Herbert, Magee, Majas, Maskell, Rutley, Smalley, Stephenson, Sydney, Twittey, and Willoughby.

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Most of the converts at the McLaren campaign were young people (about 75) and for several years things went well at the 97th Street Hall, with lots of activity. In different parts of the city people opened their homes for children’s services, including Richard and Rose McCullough and the John Sutherlands in the north end, and Archie Gibson and his wife in the west end, and these fed young people into the assembly. About 200 were in the assembly at its peak, and yearly conferences were well attended by people from outlying areas.

In the early 1940s, some of the younger people at 97th Street Hall began a Sunday School in the Norwood area of Edmonton in a rented Masonic hall. This grew to the point that in 1945 plans were made to erect a suitable building in the area. S. McCaughey donated a corner lot at 95 Street and 115 Avenue. The children’s work moved into it, and a Sunday evening Gospel service was started. This was the beginning of Bethel Gospel Chapel in Edmonton.

The building was used for a year or more before the assembly there was formed in about July 1947. The people who contributed to the building and became the first elders were Ben Finch, Eric Greenhalgh, George Smyth, Louis Mix, Jim McMahon, Cy Blair, George Paul, Sam McCaughey, William Cummings, and Stan Cummings.

Within about 15 years two additions were made to the building and it was the hub of many activities. The number of members at Bethel never exceeded about 200, partly because several other assemblies hived off from it as the city grew.

In 1959, the 97th Street Hall was sold, and the remaining flock migrated to Bethel Gospel Chapel and to Conner’s Hill Gospel Hall in Edmonton, where Alston King has been a leading brother.

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Believers exercised about a Gospel outreach work in south Edmonton worked of one accord in the purchase of a lot and the subsequent erection of a building with ‘army hut’ materials. Thus, the South Edmonton Children’s Mission was begun. Miss Eva Russell and Miss Ruby Murphy (later Mrs. Walter Christie) were leaders in reaching the children of the community, many of whom attended nearby schools. Weekly Bible classes and hobby crafts were used to introduce the children, and ultimately their families, to the Gospel. Later, David Gaunt and Olive Russell, while still attending Bethel Gospel Chapel, took charge of the mission work and attracted capable helpers.

By 1954, many young believers began migrating into the city, with a resulting large increase in fellowship at Bethel Gospel Chapel, which then became filled to capacity. The seed was planted amid the workers of the South Edmonton Children’s Mission to begin an assembly using their building as a meeting place.

An exploratory meeting was convened by those interested. representatives from Bethel Gospel Chapel and the 97th Street Hall were invited to attend. Ben Finch of Bethel and Norman Relf from the Gospel Hall were present. Brethren from the mission were David Gaunt, Len Helmers, Sam Kiffiak, Ted Matthews, and Kelly Siple. This meeting resulted in the decision to proceed with the formation of a new assembly in harmony and fellowship with believers of the two established assemblies in Edmonton. The Mission building was renamed Sharon Gospel Chapel, and the first meeting of the new assembly took place in February 1955, with 13 believers gathered to Remember the Lord.

Rapid growth over the next two years made the chapel inadequate. The old building was sold and removed, and a new building with a seating capacity of 90 was erected on the same site and completed in August 1958. An addition was constructed later, which added 30 seats.

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Capilano Christian Assembly in Edmonton began in the summer of 1978. Meetings were held initially in facilities rented from a Lutheran church in southeast Edmonton, with services on Sunday afternoons. By the end of the year, space in Mount Carmel Bible School was being used for both Sunday morning and evening meetings. The assembly continued to use the space at Mount Carmel until 1994 when, needing more room, they began renting space in the Korean Presbyterian Church.

Capilano Christian Assembly was not a hive-off from another assembly, though it had the blessings and encouragement of other area assemblies. Roger Gurnett, Robert Taylor, and William Gurnett were the principal people starting the assembly. They were full-time commended workers who were also involved in the Mount Carmel Bible School. Other leadership has been from Bob Shorten and Ted McKellar. Many of those in fellowship have been students at the Bible School or young people who came to Edmonton from Ontario to work. Capilano Christian Assembly has co-commended workers to the mission field in Zaire, and now numbers about 230 adults and children.

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During the mid-1930s, a Wednesday Night Bible Study Class was begun in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Archie Gibson in the west part of Edmonton, with 80 children initially attending. In winter, benches stored on the front porch were brought in to thaw and have the ice chipped away, in time for each class. Every suitable room in the house was used as a classroom; teachers from the 97th Street Hall assisted. Some of these teachers were William and Marjorie Cummings, Mary Getty, Eleanor Latta, Edson Marshall, Mr. McGregor, Eileen Morrow, Annie Russell, Grace Waterston, and Edina Young. In addition to the Bible study, missionary reports and social activities were common in the group.

After several years an assembly came into being and a Quonset hut was rented for its meetings. The assembly is considered a hive-off from the 97th Street Hall and Bethel Gospel Chapel of Edmonton. Those involved in the start of the assembly include the families of Archie Gibson, Edson Marshal, George Kerr, Herb McNab, Van Steinberg, Jim McMahon, and the Benners. The believers eventually bought the property where the Quonset hut was located, and built Westgrove Gospel Hall, which opened its doors in February of 1961 and continues in use. In the 1970s, the name was changed to Westgrove Gospel Chapel.

Others in leadership over the years have been Horace Ekins, Wilf Fletcher, Vern Eskildsen, Phil Townshend, Hector Marois, Tom Thomas, Tony Turner, and Marvin Hess. About 130 adults and children attend Westgrove Gospel Chapel.

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A group of believers hived-off from Bethel Gospel Chapel and began to meet in north Edmonton as the Belmont Gospel Chapel, which later disbanded when some of the flock migrated to Wyecliff Bible Chapel in Sherwood Park just east of Edmonton, and others returned to Bethel Gospel Chapel. Subsequently, a group again left Bethel Gospel Chapel and met in Dickensfield in north central Edmonton. Later, as the Clairview Bible Church, the group moved to their present location in the Clairview area of northeast Edmonton.

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Wyecliff Bible Chapel in Sherwood Park began in 1966, when three families, one from Belmont Gospel Chapel and two from Bethel Gospel Chapel, decided to form a new assembly. These were the Ron Reyburn, Herb Schindelka, and Sid Tordoff families. The assembly has commended three workers to the Lord’s service oversees, and three to local work. About 150 adults and children attend Wyecliff Bible Chapel.

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Around 1979 a group of believers in Edmonton began meeting in Keheewin School to Remember the Lord; they held ministry meetings in the George Arnold home. Other families involved were those of Wally and Wilf Fletcher, K. Joseph, Max Lavoie, and Phil Walton. As many as 60 people, including children, attended Southgate Christian Brethren Assembly in Edmonton at one point. However, in about 1984 the group closed its doors due to the departure of most of the flock.

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A group of believers withdrew from fellowship at Sharon Gospel Chapel in 1992 and. along with new converts, assembled as the Open Bible Fellowship in the Millwoods area of south Edmonton, under the ministry of Mr. Murdy Getty, a well-known and well-loved evangelist. For much of his life Mr. Getty had brought the Word of God to a multitude of the unsaved in Canada, Alaska, the Yukon, and preached in many assemblies across Canada and the USA.

Meeting initially in the Getty home, the believers subsequently moved to a rented location when Mr. Getty’s health deteriorated. Though blind he continued to minister to the believers of the Open Bible Fellowship from the whole of the Word, which he had committed to memory at the onset of his loss of sight. Between weekly meetings he continued, with dedicated helpers, in his life-long work as an itinerant preacher of the Gospel. After his passing, this group, though diminished in number, continued in rented quarters in the Millwoods area until the fall of 1997, when its doors finally closed.

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Vermillion is a farming community east of Edmonton. From the 1920s to approximately 1982 several families enjoyed fellowship at the Vermillion Gospel Hall, hosting and participating in several Bible Conferences. Approximately 100, including children, were in the assembly at one point. The surnames of some of these families were Anderson, Hilcox, Hill, Hutchinson, Mix, and Wilson.

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The families of David and James Calderwood from Northern Ireland began Remembering the Lord in their homestead home near Pibroch, north of Edmonton, in 1907. They were joined by a few Christians who arrived in the area, and the assembly became known as the Pibroch Assembly. Gospel meetings by William Fairholm held in the Pibroch Community Church led to a revival in 1930 and 1931, with much growth in the assembly.

In 1948, the Christians built a chapel in nearby Westlock, a larger town north of Edmonton, and began meeting there as Westlock Gospel Chapel. The assembly built a new chapel in Westlock in 1995. Of the many people who have had leadership roles over the years, we mention the Calderwoods; William Fairholm, who had a great influence on the assembly from 1930 to the late 1980s; James Wallace; Nelson Letts; Daniel and Joseph Hendry Taylor; and later, Keith Bidne, Tim Gurnett, and Harold Lyons. Westlock Gospel Chapel and its predecessor have commended over a dozen workers to the Lord’s work abroad and several locally and to short term missions. About 250 people are in the assembly today.

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In the area of Boyle, about 80 miles north of Edmonton, some Christians were gathering at the Cashe Creek and East Park schools during the late 1930s and into the early 1950s. Traveling preachers William Fairholm and John Sommercall helped in establishing the group as a New Testament assembly. At that time, the Sunday Gospel service was moved to Boyle, and in 1959, the Boyle Gospel Chapel was constructed. Local individuals were V. Hutton, G. Ivey, E. Splane, H. Siem, and R. Remley. Others active in leadership have been Jim Pettifer, George Van Meer, Jergen Malmedal, Bob Nicol, Wray Naslund, Fred Splane, Murray Bateman, Ken Metcalfe, and Bob Splane. The assembly has joined in a commendation to the Lord’s work in Angola. About 100 adults and youngsters attend Boyle Gospel Chapel.

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Neerlandia is a predominantly Dutch Christian Reformed Church community some 90 miles northeast of Edmonton. Three men, Messrs. Brandt, Hendricks, and Berend (Ben) Lievers, began an assembly there, the Neerlandia Gospel Hall, in about 1925 and met with their families in the home of Ben Lievers. An old store building was moved onto the farm site sometime later to accommodate the growing numbers. Finally (approximately 1960), due to the exodus of many of the families to assemblies in Edmonton and elsewhere, this assembly as such closed its doors. However, the fruit of its work continues in its heritage, such as Bethel Bible Camp, which was inaugurated in conjunction with the Pibroch Assembly in 1945. A few faithful local believers and former residents hold a Daily Vacation Bible School for one week during each Spring school break in a local school building.

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The assembly at Grimshaw Gospel Hall about 300 miles northwest of Edmonton was a small group consisting of the Nelson and MacDonald families and others, who met and carried on a work in the northern Alberta area. The work ceased in the late 1970s. At the nearby town of Fairview, where the Nelsons and MacDonalds also worked, an assembly at Fairview Gospel Chapel met for many years and disbanded in the 1980s.

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Frank Williams was in the navy in World War I and came in contact with the assemblies on the island of Malta. In about 1930, he came to the Paradise Valley area, southeast of Edmonton, as a Canadian Pacific Railway settler. He saw an ad in an Edmonton paper, G.O. Benner was having meetings in the Gospel Hall. Mr. Williams wrote to Mr. Benner, asking him to come to the Paradise Valley area. Mr. Benner came, in part because his brothers Sidney and Henry lived there and held Gospel meetings at Moyerton school. The area was very much Church of England at that time, but quite a few were saved through Mr. Benner’s preaching. The Moyerton Assembly was started in about 1932.

In 1933 or 1934, Frank Flint was saved, and because winter travel was so difficult, a winter meeting place was established in his home. Both groups combined at Moyerton once a month. Also, in these groups were the families of John Gaunt and James Steenson.

After John Gaunt and Henry Benner moved to Edmonton, the Moyerton meeting dissolved and the remaining people joined the group at the Frank Flint farm in about 1943. In 1944, the Christians built the Paradise Valley Gospel Hall three miles north of Paradise Valley, a one-room building. In 1980, the Hall was put onto a basement. This allowed a hobby class with a Bible lesson to be held after school through the winter. About 20 to 30 children attend these classes. At its largest, the assembly had about 70 in fellowship, but now just 13. The assembly at Paradise Valley Gospel Hall has never had designated elders, all the brethren confer on assembly matters.

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For many years, until the mid-1980s, weekend Bible Conferences were hosted by the Edmonton assemblies at Canadian Thanksgiving time in the Jubilee Auditorium in Edmonton, and subsequently in a North Edmonton High School. Attendance peaked at 850 souls on occasion.

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In Calgary, the earliest assembly may have met at Calgary Gospel Hall, also called the Sixth Avenue Assembly because of its location at 6th Avenue and Centre Street. Some of the first brethren there were Jonah Reid, Sam Shannon, a Mr. Stinton, and a Mr. Webb. When the assembly disbanded and the building was sold, some of the Christians went to Bethany Chapel. The others relocated to the north side of the city and became known as North Hill Gospel Hall.

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Bethany Chapel in Calgary hived off from the Sixth Avenue Assembly shortly after the war. As it expanded, services were moved to a nearby high school auditorium. In the late 1980s, a commodious building was put up and a young man from Vancouver, Gary Inrig, was appointed pastor. Under his ministry, numbers grew to 800 or 900. Mr. Inrig later moved to Dallas Seminary. Many of the existing assemblies in Calgary have derived from Bethany Chapel. The assemblies in Calgary hosted conferences at Bethany Chapel for many years at Easter time.

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West Hillhurst Gospel Hall in Calgary began in 1954 as a hive-off from the Sixth Avenue Assembly. Harry Woods and Henry Franzen were those who initiated the assembly. Leadership has been shared by these and David Speer, Dennis Broadhead, Charles Bradhead, Frank Hull, Bernie Daniels, Leland Conley, Jim Robinson, and Garry Seale. The assembly has commended Gordon Williams to the Lord’s work in Canada. About 140 attend West Hillhurst Gospel Hall.

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In September 1979, two young couples, Dan and Ruth Styles, and Jim and Larissa Duffin, from the West Hillhurst Gospel Hall had an exercise to have children’s meetings in a day care center. The day care was in a newer area of Calgary known as “The Properties.” A good number of young people helped out. Since there was nothing that would particularly appeal to adults, the children were being dropped off and picked up an hour or so later.

The logical step was to arrange a meeting for adults, which was held upstairs in the day care center. While everyone sat around a table with coffee and doughnuts, a brother took up the Epistle to the Romans. A good interest was shown, and the numbers increased. Before long, the majority professed faith in Christ and the primary emphasis switched from the Gospel to teaching.

Shortly after, a good number of those saved were baptized and received into fellowship at West Hillhurst. As others from the area were saved, the group decided to form a new assembly in close association with the West Hillhurst Gospel Hall. The Styles’, Duffins, and Frank and Bethel Hull were the primary leaders in forming the Properties Christian Assembly. In March 1981, the little group Remembered the Lord for the first time in the day care center where quite a few of them had heard the Gospel and had come to Christ.

After a couple of years, the day care facility was too small, so the assembly moved to a spacious local community center where they were able to host conferences from time to time. Many supported the work with their presence and a number of the Lord’s servants came from time to time to minister the Word.

In 1994, the new board of the community center doubled the rent, so the Christians moved into the board rooms of the Calgary Construction Association at an attractive rate. They remained there four years. At both places, meetings could be held only on Sundays, so mid-week meetings were held in homes and at North Hill Gospel Hall in Calgary.

During the earlier years, baptisms were held in the West Hillhurst Gospel Hall, at North Hill Gospel Hall, in the canal that ran alongside the north-south freeway, in the lagoon in downtown Calgary, and in a local indoor swimming pool which they would rent for an hour on Sunday afternoon.

The numbers at North Hill had been dwindling, and in the latter part of 1998 the Christians there offered the Hall to the Properties Christian Assembly. The final meeting of the assembly at the Association board room was in January 1999. The North Hill Gospel Hall was renovated, and the name changed to Northside Bible Fellowship in Calgary.

Others in active leadership since the early days have been Fen Dorozio, Dave Campbell, and Kevin Broadhead. The assembly has commended workers to the mission field. About 100 adults and youngsters are in Northside Bible Fellowship at present.

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Red Deer is some 80 miles north of Calgary. The congregation which now meets at Balmoral Bible Chapel in Red Deer had its beginning there in 1930, when William M. Rae of Portland, OR held services in a tent pitched near the site of the present Valley Hotel. At the conclusion of these meetings, Mr. Rae decided to reside in Red Deer, and helped rent a hall for assembly meetings above the Stewart Brothers Implement Agency at 5009 - 49 Street. This location was called the Red Deer Gospel Hall. A full schedule of meetings was implemented from the start, Lord’s Supper on Sunday mornings, Sunday Schools at noon, Gospel service on Sunday evenings, and several week-night meetings. Samuel Edwards and Walter Stinton were also involved with Mr. Rae in starting the assembly.

Less than a year later, the new assembly held its first Bible Conference, with 85 in attendance. In 1932, the Christians purchased a building at Ross Street and 48 Street, a site directly north of the present Balmoral City Hall. Later that year, the assembly incorporated, with trustees William Baines, Roderick J. Munro, and Samuel S. Edwards. Only 19 months later, the assembly took over a Nazarene church building 4801 - 48 Street. Financial assistance was provided by some of the brethren at the Sixth Avenue Assembly in Calgary. The building was primitive by current standards, no water or sanitation facilities, and poor heating and ventilation. Speakers at the opening of the new Red Deer Gospel Hall in August 1933 came from Calgary, Granum, and Westlock. Leadership in the early days was supplied mainly by William Baines and Frank Graham in addition to those already mentioned.

Outside speakers at the assembly in the 1930s included Ernest Tatham, Fred Elliot, John Smart, C.O. Bowen, John Sommacal, and Albert Stephenson. Bill and Joan Clark were mainstays of the assembly in its early period up until World War II, when Bill Clark joined the army. The E.B. Godfrey family and the John Tomalty family moved to Red Deer in 1937 and became substantial helpers in the work at Red Deer Gospel Hall. Others who came during and after the war were the families of Jacob Huber, Ben Kits, and Len and Norma Tomalty. The William Gurnetts, who had been in full-time work at the Youngstown Gospel Chapel moved to Red Deer in 1966 and provided needed leadership.

Elders were recognized at that time: Jacob Huber, Allan Edwards, Bill Gurnett, Lewis Edwards, and Frank Graham. Many others have been elders since then. Of the many women who have been involved in leading and teaching youth programs over the years, mention may be made of Verna Tomalty, Barbara Gurnett, Mrs. Godfrey, Myrie Woods, Marjorie Straight, Judy Falk, Ruth Edwards, and Donna Roberts.

The assembly grew steadily and needed a larger building. In January 1971, a funeral chapel on a three-acre plot east of Red Deer was purchased. After many alterations, it was opened in September 1971 as Balmoral Bible Chapel.

In 1972, the Gurnetts moved to Edmonton. The assembly felt they should have a full-time worker, and selected Terry B. Wiebe, who began in 1980. Students from Prairie Bible Institute became active in the assembly in 1982 and were a great help in speaking, teaching, and working with the youth. Balmoral Bible Chapel and its antecedents have commended many to the Lord’s work in Africa, France, Belgium, Italy, India, Spain, and the Caribbean islands. Others have been commended to the home field. Bob Shorten and Fred Lane are full-time workers for the assembly. Over 250 attend Balmoral Bible Chapel today.

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The small town of Elnora is a few miles southeast of Red Deer. The Salem Christian Assembly near Elnora began in 1982 on the grounds of Salem Acres. John H. Adams and Ralph Brundage were those who initiated the work. John Adams, S. George Loney, H.Y. Pedersen, and David Broadhead have been the elders. About 20 adults and youngsters attend Salem Christian Assembly.

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Drumheller was a coal mining community northeast of Calgary in its early days. The assembly testimony there was established by immigrants from Scotland and Europe. Sam Shannon arrived in Drumheller around 1931, at which time an assembly was already meeting on Sundays in the Odd Fellows Hall. Bible studies were held during the week in private homes.

A.B. Hunter, a mine inspector, was one of the leading brothers in the early days, and when he was transferred to Edmonton, the meeting suffered. Those who remained felt they could no longer afford the rented faci1ities, but took possession of a small building in Newcastle, a miner’s community west of the city.

Around 1940 the opportunity came up to purchase a building in Drumheller on West 3rd Ave. It was known in the community as the Tin Hall because of the sheet metal siding. The meeting place eventually took the name Drumheller Gospel Chapel. The brethren involved in the meeting were Sid Pike, Joe Dewar, Mr. Sanderlock, and Sam Shannon, forming a company of 15 or 20 along with their families, and more for special meetings by some who lived in surrounding communities.

The Pikes moved away in 1943, the Shannons in 1945, and the Dewars in 1946. Mr. Sanderlock continued on as best he could but there was talk of selling the building. When the coal mines closed down following World War II, people moved away. George Vansan arrived about then and faithfully carried on the work. The assembly disbanded in about 1990, but a Sunday School work continued for several more years.

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Granum is a ranching community southeast of Calgary. The Granum assembly was started by two brothers, Jim and Alec Calderwood, sometime after 1923. Jim had moved from the Westlock area to Granum to start farming. The Calderwood families had come from the assemblies in Northern Ireland and from the Presbyterian Church.

The assembly began in the Jim Calderwood house; then a small Jumbo Valley Hall was built on the corner of Alec Calderwood’s farm. C.O. Bowen and Willy Wilson were instrumental in helping out in the early years. Mr. Joseph Doukes was also an important figure at Jumbo Valley Hall. The Granum assembly was discontinued around 1960 to 1965.

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Lethbridge is a small city southeast of Calgary. At one time, it had two assemblies, Lethbridge Gospel Hall and Lethbridge Gospel Chapel. The Gospel Chapel disbanded in the late 1970s, but the Gospel Hall, which was started by Mr. Silas Best in the 1940s, continued into the 1980s. Harry Frouse was a leading brother in the Gospel Hall. An assembly called The Good News Centre was begun in Lethbridge at the end of 1998, the result of the initiative of Stephen Kember.

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In the early 1900s, the Burdge, McKellar, Burkinshaw, and other families settled in an area known as Berry Creek, about 25 miles southwest of Youngstown, which is about 60 miles west of the border with Saskatchewan. Some of the homesteaders brought with them a real faith in God through Jesus Christ. By 1914, the Berry Creek Gospel Hall was built. Through the witness of the believers, and the Sunday meetings, many came to faith in Christ Jesus.

A few of the Christians had connections with the assemblies on the west coast. In those early years, a young man, John Smart, came to Alberta to work in the harvest. Archie McKellar was a farmer and an evangelist at heart and used to reach out to areas around Berry Creek, driving a horse and buggy in the 1920s. For some years he went about 20 miles east to another area called Crocus Plains. In the early 1930s, John Smart came back and with Archie McKellar held an evangelistic series at Crocus Plains that reached many for the Lord.

The drought and the depression of the 1930s caused many farmers to leave these areas, but Sunday meetings were carried on by local believers using the Crocus Plains school house, about 12 miles south of Youngstown. The William Gurnetts moved to Youngstown in 1953 from northern Ontario and worked to encourage the believers and reach others.

In 1959, a decision was made to purchase the Crocus Plains school house, which was not being used as a school, and move it into Youngstown. The Berry Creek Gospel Hall was closed then. Sunday meetings were begun at the Youngstown Gospel Chapel in 1960 and have continued. The Youngstown Chapel has been enlarged several times to accommodate the numbers.

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The Coleman Christian Assembly in southern Alberta was started in 1958 by Cy Bryant and Bob Woods in 1958 and continues. An outreach of the assembly is Crowsnest Camp, a Bible camp for children.

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In the Michichi area of Alberta, approximately 20 miles northeast of Drumheller, a group of believers began home meetings in about 1912, and later met in the Sunbeam school building. In the formative years, the families of Joe Blair, Doug Griffin, Bob Hunter, and Dave Johnston attended, along with John Watt who came 18 miles by horse and buggy once a month to fellowship with his brothers and sisters in Christ.

In 1925, Bob Hunter commenced a Sunday School work, with William Campbell and Mrs. Adams helping with the classes. Later, the assembly began meeting in the Starland School building as the Starland Gospel Hall in Michichi on Sundays for the Lord’s Supper and Sunday School, and an evening Gospel service. As many as 90 worshippers were in attendance, with some coming from as far as seven miles away.

The surnames of others who enjoyed fellowship at the Starland Gospel Hall throughout the years were Elliott, French, Gosling, Halbert, Jensen, Johnston, Jolson, Kingcott, Long, and Phillips. Lena Beath, after teaching locally for three years, went as a missionary to Angola where she remained for eight years.

In the late 1950s, the public school was closed, whereupon the assembly bought the school building and continued to meet there until the mid-1970s, when it finally closed its doors after most of the flock had moved away from the region.


  • Questionnaire responses and other correspondence
  • A History of Balmoral Bible Chapel, Red Deer, by Lewis Edwards, 1999