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RAYMOND BUDDHIST CHURCH

Raymond

Other Names:

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
The Raymond Buddhist Church is a two-storey building with a rectangular plan and a steeply-pitched gable roof. The building is painted gray with white trim and is clad in horizontal wood siding. It has a truncated tower with a decorative wooden plaque over the west side. It is located in Raymond at 35 Broadway Avenue South.

Heritage Value
The heritage value of the Raymond Buddhist Church building lies in its association with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Buddhist community in Alberta and for its architectural importance as a representative example of schoolhouse and church construction in rural Alberta during the early part of the twentieth century.

The Raymond Buddhist Church is significant for its association with two religious communities: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Japanese Buddhists. In 1901, with the assistance of the Canadian Northwest Irrigation Company, the Knight family established a sugar beet growing and refining operation. In August of that year, the Knight family assisted 150 Latter-day Saints in relocating to the area and the community of Raymond was founded. The area's population grew rapidly and a substantial town site quickly emerged. In 1903, the citizens of Raymond completed construction on the community's first schoolhouse. In addition to its use as a school, the Raymond Buddhist Church was also used for the Church of Jesus Christ worship services and community events. In 1910, the school moved to a larger building, but the building continued to be used for the Church of Jesus Christ and as a community gathering place. In 1929, the Latter-day Saints moved into the larger Park Avenue Chapel. The church is the only remaining original building from the period of Raymond's founding and the last original building connected to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Raymond.

Japanese settlers, mostly of the Jodo Shinshu Buddhist faith, began arriving in the Raymond area in 1904 and quickly became an integral part of the community. In 1929, they purchased the building previously used by the Church of Jesus Christ for use as a temple, school and a meeting place. In 1932, a co-op store, called the Kobai Kumiai, was established in the building which provided staple products to generate revenue to support the temple. The co-op operated until the 1990s. The local Buddhist community grew dramatically after the evacuation of Japanese people from coastal British Columbia during the Second World War. A large ornate Buddhist altar was donated to the Raymond sanctuary by a British Columbia-based temple in 1946. The building hosted numerous internationally respected Buddhist spiritual leaders and members of the Raymond Buddhist community assumed leadership roles within the larger provincial and national Buddhist organizations. In 2006, the Buddhist community relocated their temple to Lethbridge, taking most of the interior decorations and ritual objects with them. Prior to the temple's relocation, the building was the oldest continually used Buddhist sanctuary in Canada.

The Raymond Buddhist Church is architecturally significant as a representative of typical schoolhouse and church construction in rural Alberta during the early part of the twentieth century. Construction of Raymond's first schoolhouse began in 1902 and was completed in 1903. Built on a simple rectangular plan, the Raymond Buddhist Church is a spartan structure with little exterior ornamentation. In its two-storey scale, it reflected the rapid growth of the community in the first years of the twentieth century and the optimistic expectations of the years to come. The building featured four rooms for classroom instruction and was adapted for use as a religious facility and gathering place. The simple design and mixed use of the Raymond Buddhist Church was typical of the kinds of public buildings erected in early 1900s Alberta.

Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 1146)


Character-Defining Elements
The character-defining elements of the Raymond Buddhist Church include such features as its:
- austere, simple, yet monumental design;
- truncated tower;
- steeply-pitched gable roof clad in cedar shingles;
- horizontal gray clapboard siding and panel frieze of alternating vertical and diagonal tongue-and-groove boards;
- original fenestration pattern with original sills and dentiled head mouldings over windows and doorways;
- decorative wood plaque on front (west) side of the tower containing the symbol of the Buddhist sanctuary's patron saint;
- original floor plan, including large open interior rooms used for gatherings;
- original finishes including wood floors, painted tongue-and-groove wood walls and ceilings, millwork on door mouldings and baseboards, five-panel doors and associated hardware, light fixtures, wainscot and cornice moulding of main congregation area;
- transom windows, historic to the 1940s;
- counter and shelves of the co-op store.


Location



Street Address: 35 Broadway Avenue
Community: Raymond
Boundaries: Plan 5822 EJ, Block 3, Lots 19 and 20
Contributing Resources: Buildings: 1

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD
4
20
6
8
10 (ptn.)

PBL Legal Description (Cadastral Reference):
Plan Block Lot Parcel
5822 EJ
5822 EJ
3
3
20
19



Latitude/Longitude:
Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
49.460296 -112.661439 GPS NAD 83

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type

Recognition

Recognition Authority: Province of Alberta
Designation Status: Provincial Historic Resource
Date of Designation: 1984/01/05

Historical Information

Built: 1902 to 1903
Significant Date(s) N/A
Theme(s) Building Social and Community Life : Religious Institutions
Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life : Architecture and Design
Historic Function(s): Education : Primary or Secondary School
Education : Primary or Secondary School
Religion, Ritual and Funeral : Religious Facility or Place of Worship
Religion, Ritual and Funeral : Religious Facility or Place of Worship
Current Function(s):
Architect:
Builder:
Context: HERITAGE SIGNIFICANCE

The Raymond Buddhist Church was built in 1902-03 as the first public school in the town. Actual construction was accomplished by the collaboration of several Raymond pioneer builders and carpenters and the financial support of town founder, Jesse Knight. In 1912, following the construction of a larger school, the building became the new social and spiritual center of the Second Ward of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Raymond. Weekly dances, picnics, choir practices, concerts and worship gave the schoolhouse a new identity which it retained until 1929.

In March 1929, Raymond's Japanese Society purchased the Second Ward Church and became the Raymond Buddhist Church. It has since then been the oldest continuously active Buddhist sanctuary in Canada. The first Japanese settlers in Raymond came to work as farmers in the sugar beet industry around 1904. During the next few decades, they became an integral part of the agricultural and business life of Raymond and district.

The Raymond Buddhist Church is a simple two-storey wood, log and brick rectangular structure which originally had a bell tower and steeple. The design of the building is in keeping with that of other pioneer schools.

The Raymond Buddhist Church has thus served a variety of functions representative of the diverse character of the Raymond community.

Additional Information

Object Number: 4665-0482
Designation File: Des. 1146
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File: HS 29098
Website Link:
Data Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, Old St. Stephen's College, 8820 - 112 Street, Edmonton, AB T6G 2P8 (File: Des. 1146)
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