The earliest record of Anglican activities in Jasper (known as Fitzhugh until 1913) comes from 1909, when Walter Leversedge, a traveling missionary, began his thirty nine year ministry in this diocese.
The Anglican Church began in 1913 with the donation of a small boxcar to hold services. Dry cedar logs were then donated by Mr. McCall of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway.
A tent and school building served as the first house of worship until 1914. Under the direction of the Reverend G. Provis (first Rector) a log church was constructed.
The Women's Auxiliary of the Missionary Society of the Church of England, along with two main donors, provided the bulk of the finances needed. The two main donors for the first church building had each requested a different name for the church. To please both, the church was named St. Mary & St. George.
PA 4-1 The first Anglican church at 705 Geikie St. 1927
A wooden tower was added in 1915 to provide living quarters for the Rector. In 1923 the mission of St. Mary & St. George became a parish.
Henry Allen Gray (first Bishop of Edmonton) consecrated the church of St. Mary & St. George on August 2, 1914.
The First Great War further determined the history of this church when a young man was killed in Palestine. He had intended to serve as a priest in this diocese following the war.
As a memorial to her son the anonymous donor gave the present building (1928) with the request that a New Testament and a string of olive beads found on his body, be placed in the structure itself.
PA4-5 St. Mary & St. George 1934
The generous lady's identity was revealed nine years after her death in 1953. She was Marion Beatrice Smith of Bournemouth, England, and she was also the benefactress of six other Canadian diocese.
The church in which you have the privilege of worshipping today is based on a blueprint for a 14th century English Gothic church, designed by Mr. A.M. Calderon of Edmonton and built with local materials.
It is a church of gifts from near and far. The font, which originally belonged to the old log church was given by the Women's Auxiliary, and the ewer by Mr. and Mrs. Brydon in memory of their mother.
PA 4-2 Interior of St. Mary & St. George 1918
PA 4-6 Anglican Church Chancel at Harvest Festival 1934
The oak panelling in the sanctuary was the gift of Mrs. May and G.L. Slocock of Newbury, England. Friends from England gave the altar cross. The processional cross, in hand-beaten brass, the work of Omar Ramsden of London, was given by the late Viscount Willingdon who, when he was Governor General of Canada, laid the foundation stone of the church on July 29th 1928.
PA 4-19 First Sunday School at St. Mary and St. George Anglican Church, Jasper, Alberta. [ca. 1915]
(l-r) back: Mr. Provis. front: Harold Allen, May Allen, Annie Milner, Phyllis Lofts, Dora Allen, Fielding Niven and Leslie Lofts.
PA 4-31 St. Mary and St. George Anglican Church
Women's Auxiliary, Jasper, Alberta. [ca. 1941]
To complete the church, the Edith Cavell Memorial Tower was added in 1932. Those who contributed were requested to sign and subscribe to the Book of Forgiveness, so named for its inscription taken from her last words "I bear no hatred nor bitterness in my heart towards anyone."
Edith Cavell was born in England in 1865. After working as a governess for several years, she decided to become a nurse. She returned to school in 1896 at the London Hospital, Whitechapel. In 1907, Cavell was offered the opportunity to take charge of a clinic and teaching hospital for nurses in Brussels. Here, Cavell helped raise the standards and status of the nursing profession.
When World War I broke out in 1914, Cavell was in England visiting her mother. Despite the misgivings of her family, Cavell quickly returned to Belgium and her school. She persuaded her students to aid all wounded soldiers that came through their hospital regardless of their nationality, including German soldiers. Cavell's war efforts soon progressed to aiding British, French, and Belgian soldiers escape from German-occupied Belgium to neutral territory, where they could rejoin their armies. There were rumours that German soldiers were shooting those who assisted Allied troops, but Cavell ignored them, reasoning that "We shall be punished in any case, whether we have done much or little, so let us go ahead and save as many of these unhappy men as possible."
It is believed that Cavell helped over 250 men escape. On August 5, 1915, Cavell was arrested and sent to St. Gilles Prison in Brussels. Cavell neither denied her involvement in helping Allied soldiers, nor did she plead for mercy. Despite the intervention of many, including the American and Spanish ambassadors, Cavell was found guilty. Even so, she said: "Standing as I do in view of God and Eternity, I realise that patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone."
Cavell was shot October 12, 1915 at the Brussels execution grounds, and was buried a few feet from where she fell. There was international outrage at the news of her death. In England, she was mourned as a national heroine. In 1916 the Government of Canada named one of Jasper National Park's most notable mountains in Cavell's honor, thus ensuring that this great humanitarian would never be forgotten.
PA 4-12 Annual memorial ceremony at Mount Edith Cavell for the British nurse by the St. Mary and St. George Anglican Church, Jasper, Alberta. Aug 9, 1925
PA 4-18 Mount Edith Cavell Memorial Service by
St. Mary and St. George Anglican Church, Jasper, Alberta.
In 1985 the Alberta Ministry of Culture declared St. Mary & St. George an Historic Resource on the grounds that it reflects the 14th century English Gothic revival in Canada and is the only remaining ecclesiastical structure designed by A.M. Calderon.
Currently the church is one of the most popular ecclesiastical venues for weddings in the Rocky Mountains and a main point of interest for tourists who each year visit Jasper from all over the world.
In 2001 a visit from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and His Royal Highness Prince Phillip, marked another significant and memorable event in the life of St. Mary and St. George.