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PARKLAND EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH

Ohaton

Other Names:
Lutheran Church
Parkland Evangelic Lutheran Church
Parkland Lutheran Church
Parkland United Lutheran Church

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
The Parkland Evangelical Lutheran Church is a small rural church located in the County of Camrose. It is a rectangular, wooden building with a steeply pitched gable roof and Gothic windows. The front (north) elevation features a central porch and a corner tower with a crenellated parapet. The rear (south) elevation has a shed-roofed porch and brick chimney. The church and its associated cemetery are situated on a small, landscaped plot of land that is clearly demarcated from the neighbouring properties by lines of mature trees. The church is located on Highway 26 approximately 8 kilometres northeast of the hamlet of Ohaton.

Heritage Value
The heritage value of the Parkland Evangelical Lutheran Church lies in its identity as an excellent example of rural Lutheran church design in Alberta.

Starting in the 1890s, the region around Ohaton attracted a number of Norwegian Lutheran settlers from Minnesota. After 1900, additional Norwegian Lutherans, this time from South Dakota, arrived in the area. In 1903, five families of the later group organized themselves into the Parkland Lutheran Congregation and began to hold worship services in their homes and raise funds for the construction of a church. The congregation grew and, in 1913, it was officially incorporated as the Parkland Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Congregation. The new congregation was accepted as a member of the Canadian District of the Norwegian Lutheran Church of America, which is now part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada. This synod followed a form of Lutheranism advocated by the Norwegian lay minister and reformer Hans Nielsen Hauge in the late 1700s and early 1800s. Hauge believed that Lutheranism should focus on personal faith experiences, more informal worship services, and a greater role for lay ministry. In 1930, the Parkland congregation formed a building committee and, using local labour, a basement was dug and a concrete foundation was poured. Due largely to the Great Depression, construction progressed slowly over the next 16 years. The church was completed in 1946 and was officially dedicated that October.

The design of the Parkland Evangelical Lutheran Church reflects the sensibilities of pietistic Lutheranism. These sensibilities are demonstrated by the overall simplicity of the church - its lack of decoration and ornamentation and the use of white paint throughout. The starkness of the interior is relieved only by the natural wood colours of the pews, the lectern, the baptismal font and the altar. The two sacraments of the Lutheran faith - Eucharist and baptism - are embodied in the altar area and the baptismal font. The altar itself is relatively undecorated and is situated lower to the ground and closer to the congregation than is generally found in Lutheran churches that do not follow Haugean principles. The painting of the "Light of the World" in the altarpiece shows Christ knocking at the door of the heart and is particularly expressive of the pietistic emphasis upon a deep, personal relationship to Jesus. A small choir loft located opposite the altar area embodies the distinctive importance of hymns in Lutheran worship services.

The Parkland Evangelical Lutheran Church is a fine example of Carpenter Gothic architecture, a form of design popular throughout western Canada that rendered the typically stone forms of Gothic Revival architecture in the more humble medium of wood. The church features typical elements of the Gothic style included the pointed-arch windows, asymmetry, and steeply-pitched gable roof. The dominant feature of the church is the corner bell tower with crenellated parapet and louvered ventilation openings. The open floor plan of the basement and the presence of a food preparation area speak to the importance of the church as a community gathering space in addition to being a place of worship. Despite the overall emphasis on simplicity, which is in accordance with Lutheran principles, the community's sense of pride in their church, which was built with local volunteer labour, is demonstrated through the detailed brickwork at the top of the chimney, the form of the crenellations on the top of the bell tower, and the craftsmanship evident in the altar, baptismal font, interior railings and other furnishings.

Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 2123)


Character-Defining Elements
Key elements that define the heritage value of the Parkland Evangelical Lutheran Church include those features that speak to its role as a rural Lutheran church:

- stark appearance caused by the predominant use of white paint on the exterior walls and interior walls and ceilings, and minimal ornamentation and decoration throughout the building;
- natural wood, handcrafted pews, altar, lectern, baptismal font and railings;
- place of prominence accorded to the baptismal font beside the altar;
- offset, square bell tower with crenellated parapet, louvered ventilation openings and one double-hung, gothic arched window on the east side;
- medium pitched, rafter supported gable roof;
- centrally located front porch covering a double door entry
- presence of double-hung windows with three light, arched transoms on the east and west elevations and flanking and surmounting the front entry;
- open floor plan of the basement and presence of a food preparation area;
- floor plan of the main floor with a small vestibule area separated from the nave;
- small choir loft located at the back of the church opposite the altar area;
- association and spatial relationship with the church's cemetery located to the south of the building and a second cemetery located immediately to the east of the church property.

Key elements that define the heritage value of the Parkland Evangelical Lutheran Church include such general elements as its:

- single massing and the rectangular shape of the building;
- exterior walls clad in unusual, bevelled cedar drop-siding with rounded lower edges, corner boards and skirting;
- cedar shingles on all pitched roof surfaces
- single flue, brick chimney capped with brick detailing located on the rear (south) elevation;
- shed-roofed porch on the rear (south) elevation covering staircases leading to the basement and directly into the nave;
- fenestration pattern of rows of arched windows on the east and west elevations, the furthest north window on the east elevation and the furthest south window on the west elevation being shorter than the rest;
- circular, louvered ventilation opening on the front gable and a square, louvered ventilation opening on the rear gable;
- poured concrete foundation with parging;
- V-jointed, tongue and groove fir flooring in the nave and vestibule;
- fir mill work;
- interior walls clad in 1930s era gypsum board;
- wood frame construction with a post and beam substructure on a board-formed concrete foundation;
- basement level fenestration pattern of six-light single windows, four on each of the east and west elevations and one on the front elevation;
- relationship to the landscaped plot and the lines of mature trees that demark the boundaries of the church property.


Location



Street Address: RR #1
Community: Ohaton
Boundaries: Portion of the northwest quarter of Section 32, Township 46, Range 18, West of the Fourth Meridian
Contributing Resources: Buildings: 1

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD
4
18
46
32
14 (ptn.)

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

Latitude/Longitude:
Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
53.017392 -112.580756 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: 2010/04/21

Historical Information

Built: 1930/01/01 To 1930/01/01
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): Religion, Ritual and Funeral : Religious Facility or Place of Worship
Current Function(s): Religion, Ritual and Funeral : Religious Facility or Place of Worship
Architect:
Builder:
Context: HISTORICAL CONTEXT

After the Calgary and Edmonton Railway was completed in 1891, the vast prairie lands of central Alberta out from the rail line became viable for homesteading. Often, successful settlement of members of a particular ethnic group would attract other people of that nationality to the same area, so that, by the turn of the twentieth century, several distinct ethnic pockets could be detected in the central part of the province. In the area around present day Camrose, a number of Lutheran Norwegians from Minnesota took up land during the mid-1890s. They were soon joined by friends and other family members, and also by immigrants directly from Norway. Trappings of Norwegian culture and the Lutheran faith are much in evidence in this district today.

In 1903, several Norwegian immigrants from South Dakota filed for homesteads on land southeast of Camrose. That same year, four of them, named Gilbert Oppen, Andrew Shevrin, Ole Grasdahl and Thomas Bragar, decided to form the basis of a Lutheran church, and so they became charter members of what they called the Parkland Lutheran Congregation. The other founding member was Albert Hardy. At the same time, the wives of these men, along with a few others, decided to form the Parkland Ladies Aid.

Services and meetings were at first conducted in private homes and in the nearby Hampton and Hartland schools. The first pastors were visitors from Bardo, although Andrew Shevrin also served as a lay pastor. Finally, in 1904, Reverend Halvorson was appointed the first of a number of resident pastors who would serve intermittently during the early part of the twentieth century. The arrival of the Canadian Pacific Railway, and the subdivision of the town site of Ohaton in 1905, brought more settlement to the area, especially to the east, and so it was no doubt felt that a resident pastor was warranted.

Though the Parkland Evangelical Lutheran Congregation was incorporated in 1913, and the Luther League for young people formed the following year, the community was not provided with a church until 1930. This was probably the result of the existence of other Lutheran churches in the district and the fact that only certain of the newer immigrants to the east were of the Lutheran faith. At Ohaton, for the most part, the local schools and the home of Raymond and Clara Bragar provided a venue for services and meetings. Finally however, in June 1930, the Congregation appointed a building committee, and Milford Bragar drew up plans for a church building. A basement was dug and a foundation laid, but, due mainly to the Depression, and the consequent shortage of funds, progress was slow. Finally however, in October 1946, the Parkland Evangelical Lutheran Church was completed and was dedicated by Reverend Mars Dale. It has served the community ever since, although services in recent years have been intermittent due to the small congregation.


HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE

The historical significance of the Parkland Evangelical Lutheran Church lies mainly in its provision of structural evidence of the Norwegian ethnicity and Lutheran faith of the settlement southeast of Camrose during the early part of the twentieth century, even though the church building was not begun until 1930 and not completed until 1946. In the case of Ohaton, the Lutheran congregation was originally composed mainly of Norwegians from South Dakota. Its expansion was not great however, as other Lutheran churches sprang up in the district, and the settlement wave of the early twentieth century saw many non-Lutherans enter the area, especially to the east.



Additional Information

Object Number: 4665-1042
Designation File: Des. 2123
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File: HS 31685
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 (Des. 2123)
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