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St. John the Divine
On Lee House
Shilson House


Present day church St. John the Divine

St. John the Divine was built in 1863 by the Royal Engineers; it's one of the oldest surviving churches in BC.

Detail of Plan of Fort Yale
The site of St. John the Divine, suggested on an early plan of Fort Yale. (BC Archives: CM A177)
One might expect a church to be not very popular in a frontier town such as Yale, but miners were anticipating the installation of a permanent church. Early services were held in tents and building around town until 1863. The Royal Engineers were present in Yale for the construction of the Cariboo wagon road. With their help, a permanent Church of England was constructed on Albert Street. Strangely, no records of the job made by the Royal Engineers has been found to date, but most evidence suggests St. John the Divine was built in 1863.

Nothing stood in the way of the intrepid clergymen in the pioneer town.

Reverend Crickmer held the first services the original church building in Yale in 1860, but the honour of opening St. John the Divine went to Reverend George Hills, who four years earlier carried out the first services in Yale having only a simple tent at his disposal.

St. John the Divine in the 1880s
An early photograph of St. John the Divine from the 1880s. (BC Archives: a-03603)

The exterior appearance has changed since its early days, but it has avoided all major fires.

St. John the Divine is one of the oldest surviving churches in British Columbia. None one of the three major fires in Yale's early history touched the block on which it sat. Many of the early photographs show another building on the west side of the church. It was the Rectory, which was demolished in 1940.

More Photographs

In August 1982, Architectural drawings of the church were done by the UBC School of Architecture. They include interior and exterior views, a site plan, and details of the cross and steeple.

Main Floor Plan St. John the Divine Drawings
Click to see the drawings.

Present day interior
The interior of St. John the Divine is much like when it was built.

The interior, and some of the artifacts in the present day collection, are original to the church building or pre-date it.

The walls and rafters in today's building are original. Many of the artifacts displayed in the church are original, including a pew reputed to have been donated by Lady Jane Franklin, and a pump organ. To see more, search the St. John the Divine collection of ecclesiastical and textile artifacts.

1861 Pew Church organ
One church pew.
Accession number:
One pump organ or harmonium.
Accession number:

Just down Albert street from the church was a busy office on Front street. Go to visit the Barnard's express office page.

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Last updated 31 August 1998.
This digital collection was produced under contract to the SchoolNet Digital Collections Program, Industry Canada.
Produced by Schoolnet Digital Collections Team.