The Reverend Alexander David Pringle, sponsored by the Society for the
Propagation of the Gospel as a missionary priest arrived in the colony of New
Caledonia in 1859. Appointed to Fort Hope by Bishop Hills he immediately set
about establishing a reading room and library, the first in British Columbia.
Within a year of his arrival he began soliciting funds for the building of
The cornerstone of Christ Church was laid in July of 1861, and in November of
the same year Bishop Hills consecrated the Church. A National Historic Site, the
Church is recognized for its Gothic Revival Style, a style that was designed to
restore the spirituality of churches while creating a stronger British presence
within a population dominated by American gold seekers.
The style of the church owes much to the three people most involved in its
construction: Reverend Pringle, Bishop Hills and Captain Grant. Pringle drew
much of his inspiration from his travels in England and made mention of the
Great Exhibition of 1851 (Crystal Palace) in his letters. Bishop Hills' diary
refers to his strict adherence to "high church" standards, and Captain Grant of
the Royal Engineers volunteered his time to design the building.
Hope's urban character and Christ Church's placement within a block of the
public square (today's Memorial Park) is the result of the Royal Engineers who
laid out the town in 1860.
Other items of note within the church includes the section of carpet above
the doorway. This century old carpet covered the sanctuary until 1988. It was a
gift to the church by the Baroness Angela Burdett-Coutts, who also gave 35,000
pounds to the establishment of the Church of England within the new colony.
Christ Church was originally supported as a mission church, and through the
years the church body has responded to change. From 1971-1986 a team ministry
was in place (joining together other Anglican Parishes within the Fraser-Cheam
Area). A shared ministry with the United Church followed. In 1989 Christ Church
became an independent parish under the leadership of the Reverend Harold Vaughan
Thomas. Today, the Reverend Gail Newell continues to hold services. In addition,
Christ Church embraced its National Historic Site status in 2009 and established
an interpretive program with guided tours and costumed interpreters. Christ
Church's legacy as the oldest church on BC's mainland as well as the longest
operating church remains.