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St. Stephen's Church

Cardston, Near

Other Names:
Harrisville Church
St. Stephen's R C Church
St. Stephen's R. C. Church
St. Stephen's Roman Catholic Church

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Heritage Value

Character-Defining Elements


Street Address: N/A
Community: Cardston, Near
Boundaries: Portion of Legal Subdivision 5, Section 2, Township 2, Range 26, West of the Fourth Meridian
Contributing Resources: N/A

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD
5 (ptn.)

PBL Legal Description (Cadastral Reference):
Plan Block Lot Parcel

Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
49.093398 -113.382974

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type


Recognition Authority: Province of Alberta
Designation Status: Registered Historic Resource
Date of Designation: 1989/09/18

Historical Information

Built: 1907/01/01 To 1907/01/01
Significant Date(s) N/A
Historic Function(s): Religion, Ritual and Funeral : Religious Facility or Place of Worship
Current Function(s):

St. Stephen's Roman Catholic Church is located in what was once the rural community of Harrisville. The community was made up of immigrants from a diverse number of ethnic backgrounds that were united in their Roman Catholicism. Harrisville was thus an enclave of European and Canadian settlement in an area settled predominately by American Mormons.

The social development of the community was organized around St. Stephen's Church and the school district. Catholic church services were originally conducted in the homes of the settlers by Oblate priests from Standoff. The Standoff Mission had been established in the 1880s as part of the Oblate mission in southern Alberta. In 1900 the community made the decision to construct a church. In December of that year, the men of the area made the trip to Mcleod with six teams and sleighs to purchase materials for the building. Volunteer labour provided by the area residents completed the church in August 1901. It occupied land provided as a grant from the Crown in February 1901 to the Catholic church. After the building was damaged by high winds in 1901 and 1904, it was rebuilt at its present location in 1907.

The construction and appearance of St. Stephen's Church was typical of churches in many small rural congregations during the settlement period. Its significance in the history of the Catholic church in southern Alberta, however, goes beyond its role in the actual community of its location. It represents a widespread effort at a Roman Catholic mission in a region where the small number of Catholic settlers made it difficult to organize and sustain Catholic congregations. These difficulties were particularly apparent in Whiskey Gap, Del Bonita and Cardston. The oldest Roman Catholic chapel in the extreme southern portion of the province, St. Stephen's Church at Harrisville, reminds visitors of a significant mission effort in a unique south-western pioneer situation.

Additional Information

Object Number: 4665-0580
Designation File: DES 0438
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File: HS 75448
Website Link: N/A
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. 438)
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