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Settling In: Highlighting 50 Years of Kitimat's History

Kitimat Worships

With all the many nationalities living together, churches of different denominations worked "towards the harmony of the community".

 People of the Snow, John Kendrick


Establishing spiritual places in Kitimat was a challenge in the early days.  As the Aluminum Company of Canada administered employment and services, only those hired and with special permission could be in the town.  The Presbyterian Church minister Reverend Fulton was sent back to Prince Rupert twice before finally being admitted, having been told there were already enough churches in Kitimat.  Reverend Tucker of the Anglican Church had to get hired on as an engineer with Kitimat Constructors to stay (Dorothy Leuze, 2003).

With the arrival of many from the Azores and elsewhere, the Recreation Hall at Smeltersite served as the Catholic worship centre.  The United, Catholic, and Christian Fellowship put Smeltersite School into service.  Once a year, the Greek Orthodox community used the newly constructed Rod & Gun Club beside Kitimat River as their church. 

Once much of Nechako neighbourhood was completed, congregations began worshipping in the town.  Baptist and Alliance both worshipped at various times in a house and chapel on Cormorant Street.  Nechako School, having become the town’s main worship centre on Sundays, had a natural ecumenical gathering of Christians in the hallways after the services.

“We all met there, at the same time for Sunday school and church.  Each denomination had one or two rooms and the Catholics had the gym.  We used to say, when the Pentecostals sang, we all sang because they had a small band.  Each group carried in their boxes of hymn books and in some cases a small portable pump organ.”

Dorothy Leuze, 2003

By 1959, seven of Kitimat's thirteen congregations had built their own places of worship.  Millions of volunteer hours were put in by the congregations of each church.  Catholics worshipped in the basement of their newly constructed St. Anthony’s School.  Kitimat Ministerial clergy and laypeople took turns travelling out to Kemano, providing chaplains to the Kitimat Hospital, and daily devotions on the local radio.

Congregation at Kitimat Presbyterian Church

The congregation at the Kitimat Presbyterian Church, December 25, 1963.

United Church exterior

The United Church was the first church constructed - completed in 1957. The building was chosen by the Kitimat Northern Sentinel to be Kitimat's "first landmark". Photographed by Max Patzelt in 1964

Father MacDonald

Father MacDonald outside the Catholic chapel and trailer rectory in Smeltersite, 1954. 

Christ Church Anglican Interior

Christ Church Anglican, 1961.

Kitimat United Church Interior

United Church service, March 22, 1964.

Catholic Church

Christ the King Catholic Church, 1964. The Church was built on the bottom floor of the main building, the gymnasium to the right. Above the church St. Anthony's Elementary School was located.