July 11, 2018 7:26 pm
Updated: February 14, 2019 3:45 pm

Iconic Alberta church could be rebuilt after devastating fire

WATCH: For nearly 140 years it stood as an historical landmark, but in May 2017, the McDougall Memorial United Church was reduced to rubble. Jill Croteau has details on the vision to rebuild it.


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There is an initiative to take the scorched remains of an historic church and rebuild it to its former glory.

READ MORE: Historic Old McDougall Church destroyed by fire

In May 2017, fire gutted the McDougall Memorial United Church.

The chapel east of Morley on Highway 1A was built nearly 140 years ago by Brenda McQueen’s great, great, great-grandfather. She made fond memories there.

“For my whole life I’ve been coming out here. It’s always been a very important part of my life.”

Brenda McQueen, great, great, great-granddaughter of George McDougall

Jill Croteau

McQueen is now president of the McDougall Stoney Mission Society. The group is hoping there is enough salvageable wood to rebuild.

“It’s something I am so proud of that even though there was a fire, I thought it was the end,” McQueen said.

“We are moving forward and it’s a very positive thing for the history of Alberta.”

Over the past month, a restoration team has been sifting through the rubble. The crew, headed up by Dave Chalmers, is documenting what they uncover and will prepare a possible rebuild using this history rich wood.

Burned remains of McDougall Memorial United Church

Jill Croteau

“I was always optimistic, maybe overly, but it paid off,” Chalmers said. “There’s a lot of material we can re-use.

“It looks bad from a distance but when you get up close and personal, there’s a lot of material.”

They have close to 100 pieces of timber to go through. Beyond the lumber, they’re saving everything that’s authentic and found some real blessings in the rubble.

“We were hoping to find the elusive bell. We thought it would be covered under debris but we found the bell and it melted but we saved all the brass. With any luck, we could make a new bell,” Chalmers said.

Historic bell salvaged from the rubble

Jill Croteau

“It’s incredible. That’s why I get emotional. It’s been a part of my life and I have the vision it can be a part of the future,” McQueen said.

The volunteer society is hoping to secure provincial government funding along with its own fundraising to pay for the rebuild.

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