Haven of Hope — a proposed Christian retreat centre — would be built near a small lake just off the St. Mary River near Fort Steele.

Haven of Hope — a proposed Christian retreat centre — would be built near a small lake just off the St. Mary River near Fort Steele.

Christian retreat planned for Fort Steele

A Christian retreat centre beside the St. Mary River in Fort Steele is up for approval by the Agricultural Land Commission.

A Christian retreat centre beside the St. Mary River in Fort Steele is up for approval by the Agricultural Land Commission.

Haven of Hope would consist of a lodge, five cabins, a chapel and a caretaker facility on the riverfront property near the junction of the St. Mary and Kootenay Rivers.

Earlier this month, the Regional District of East Kootenay board of directors supported the application for non-farm use of the property, but the ultimate decision lies with the Agricultural Land Commission.

The retreat is a project of the Haven of Hope Society, a Christian non-profit made up of long-time friends who share the vision for a place for “whoever needs a haven of hope, a place to recuperate and rest,” said project developer Ellen MacBean.

The property was previously part of John MacLeod’s ranch, but hasn’t been used as a ranch for many years.

MacBean said Haven of Hope purchased the property in April 2013 after a province-wide search for the right place.

The journey started when MacBean was 11 and read a book about Florence Nightingale.

“I remember thinking, that is what I want to do with my life. It affected me profoundly. I remember reading it and knowing that was my destiny,” she said.

MacBean went on to become a physiotherapist and a hospital chaplain, before she and her husband began work with a prison ministry, matching inmates to caring people on the outside to form lasting friendships. Later, the couple worked in forensic psychiatric institutes, and built halfway homes.

“Haven of Hope is a culmination of having worked with sick and dying people, the mentally ill, the mentally handicapped, inmates, and being around people in all of their suffering and all of the joy that can also be found in the midst of suffering. That has birthed the desire for a place like this,” said MacBean.

Two years ago, MacBean and her family began searching the province for a location.

“We looked at houses all the way from Vancouver Island to the Lower Mainland and the Okanagan. When we came to Cranbrook, we just knew this was where we were meant to be. And we have not been disappointed, we just love it,” she said.

A year later, the society purchased the property in Fort Steele and began to dream about its future.

They are setting up bee hives on the property and leaving the flood plain to nature so that wildflowers will grow for the bees.

The property will be crisscrossed by walking trails, leading to a chapel built on a hill overlooking the rivers and Fisher Peak. A lake on the property will be used for swimming and kayaking.

“This is very much a place of refuge, if you need time to heal or be still, time to regroup, time to think about your life. It’s a place to come and walk and be quiet and listen,” said MacBean.

“For most people in life, they are distracted. This is a place to stop all that noise and just come and be still.”

Plans for the retreat centre are still being determined. In the meantime, the society waits for word from the Agricultural Land Commission.

Just Posted

Residents line up outside the Vernon Recreation Complex for their COVID-19 vaccine Saturday, June 5. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
No appointments necessary for first dose COVID-19 vaccine: Interior Health

People can just show up at clinics, register on the spot and get the shot

It happened this week in 1914

June 6 -12: Compiled by Dave Humphrey from the archived newspapers held at the Cranbrook History Centre and Archives

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry on Thursday, June 10, mentioned Grand Forks among two other COVID “hot spots” in B.C. Photo: Screenshot - YouTube COVID-19 BC Update, June 10, 2021
PHO Henry says West Kootenay city is a COVID ‘hot spot’ in B.C.

There are 11 cases of COVID-19 in the Grand Forks local health area, according the BC CDC

Supporters — and shoppers — lined up waiting at the Cranbrook Health Care Auxiliary Thrift Store on 8th Avenue South, waiting for the doors to open on the store's first day of operations since the pandemic forced its closure. (Photo courtesy Kate Fox)
CHCA Thrift Store re-opens in Cranbrook

After a closure of 15 months, due to the pandemic, the Cranbrook Health Care Auxiliary Thrift Store on 8th Avenue South has once again opened its doors for business.

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

The Queen Victoria statue at the B.C. legislature was splattered with what looks like red paint on Friday. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Queen Victoria statue at B.C. legislature vandalized Friday

Statue splattered with red paint by old growth forest proponents

Most Read