Aq’am restoring St. Eugene Church

100-year-old structure getting a facelift, both on the outside and inside.

Aq'am is in the process of restoring the 100-year old St. Eugene Church.

Aq'am is in the process of restoring the 100-year old St. Eugene Church.

Restoration work continues out at the St. Eugene Mission church, which is getting an exterior facelift before shifting to more work in the interior of the building.

The outside work, which includes structural components with the steeple and roof systems, a roof replacement, repairing the wooden siding and facade, is expected to be completed by the end of the summer.

The building, constructed in the late 1800s, features a tall steeple, stained glass windows, buttresses at each corner and cut shingles as well as priceless artwork and statutes inside the building. In fact, the stained glass windows were imported from Italy and are still in their original condition.

Built by local Aq’am band members, the interior was pieced together using a tongue and groove methodology, opening for worship on Palm Sunday in 1898.

The building is one of the few remaining Victorian-era wooden churches in the province.

In a statement by band elders developed in 2008, the church represents significant heritage value.

“The church symbolizes the spiritual values of the past and illustrates the importance of religion in the late 19th century community,” reads the statement. “The church represents the spiritual evolution of the community and it is a symbol of the imposition of the European culture onto the area.

“The site has a history of 10,000 years of settlement. There is a continuous history of this site being a place of gathering and brining people together from around the region to celebrate and congregate. It is a traditional ceremonial gathering place. The size of the church reflects the size of the community at the time the church was built. The church is part of the legacy of the community and it continues to be valued as a place for the celebration and honouring of all the significant events of life.”

Restoration work on the church began in 2011, as the building was lifted, underpinned and given a new foundation. MDG Contracting is the contractor on the current project and is utilizing local subcontractors to complete the various aspects of the restoration.