Such was the dedication of a shy but tenacious man, the Rev. James Reynard, brilliant mathematician, accomplished musician, visionary and builder of St. Saviour's Anglican Church in Barkerville B.C.
In the most challenging of days during the Cariboo Gold Rush era, the Rev. Reynard overcame the obstacles of the great Barkerville Fire, horrendous winters, primitive living conditions and limited help, to build a unique "cathedral style" church in the year 1869.
Yesterday is alive in this old church, you may well sit in the very pew that accommodated such "gold rush characters" as John Bowron, Cariboo Cameron, Judge Matthew Begbie, Chartes Brew and Billy Barker, to name but a few. As you tread the original well worn stairs, enter through the ill fitting outer doors with their worn, hand-crafted metal handles, you enter into another lifetime, the mid 1800's.
Inside, as you pass through the veil of time, you may imagine the echo of "Onward Christian Soldiers" reverberating off the walls from Sundays past. You may feel a haunting presence, the black mid nave wood stove offering warmth to those standing closest. The lightly dusted pews sit silently while through the mist of your imagination, you will see men with facial hair dressed in dark suits, standing beside elegantly "hatted"and fussily frocked ladies, chins tilted upward, singing with purpose and conviction. Children in "Sunday best," fighting restlessness and boredom, participate resignedly in this weekly ritual, glancing at each other teasingly.
The aged distorted glass windows resting in weathered frames, witness to years of song and sermon, prayer and praise, joy and tears. In this other dimension you've entered, a robed balding Priest, pallid and weary, sings lustily but without passion, accompanied by a highly pitched pump organ, as he subconsciously prays that this mornings offering will provide for another week of food and lodging. The altar candles flicker as the breath of God slowly swirls about the sanctuary, causing moving shadows to dance off the polished brass cross.
St. Saviour's was built board by board with loving, humble and skilled hands, all for the Glory of God and the maturing of a rough and isolated community. This carefully maintained old church with its original Bishop's chair, pews, stove, pump organ and windows speaks to a pioneering part of our past, as a faithful symbol to our present, and the solid foundation of our future. When in Barkerville, please come and visit us and let your heart be warmed by God's Holy presence, by history's Holy dependence.