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Key Number: HS 31685
Site Name: Parkland Evangelical Lutheran Church
Other Names:
Site Type: 1603 - Religious: Church, Cathedral or Chapel


ATS Legal Description:
Twp Rge Mer
46 18 4

Near Town: Ohaton


Type Number Date View


Plan Shape:
Superstructure: Nailed Frame
Superstructure Cover: Wood: Clapboard (Bevel or Drop Siding)
Roof Structure: High Gable
Roof Cover: Wood Shingle
Exterior Codes:
Exterior: The Parkland Lutheran Church was constructed in 1930. It is a wood frame building constructed on a board formed concrete foundation. The substructure is post and beam with nominal 2 x10 floor joists layered in the basement ceiling with "V" jointed tongue and groove material and on the Nave floor with fir tongue and groove.

The roof is constructed of rafters layered on the exterior with sheathing and cedar shingles. There is a square single-flue masonry chimney on the south elevation that vents the furnace and stove in the basement.

The walls are layered on the exterior with unique beveled cedar siding with rounded bottom edges. Wood shaving insulation was installed between the studs and the interior walls were layered with a1930's type of gypsum panels. Millwork trim throughout is a good quality fir without special molding details.

There are 20 cedar windows. The Nave windows are the two-light, double-hung type with a 3 light arched transom above. There are 6-light awning basement windows all of which are in good condition.
Interior: A small functional oil furnace heats the building and a small electric service provides power as required.
Environment: This church site, with the cemetery, is located on the same highway as the Hegre Lutheran Church and the Hampton School both of which are Registered Historic Resources. Farther south there is the Webster/McLeod Homestead also, a Registered Historic Resource. Therefore within the same general area there are three sites that offer a glimpse into the education and religious practices from 1914 to the 1930's. Soon after this date, both schools and churches would amalgamate into the regional system.
Condition: The structure occupies its original location. The whole building including the floor plan is original construction with the exception of the furnace that was replaced by a modern unit, although the original is still in the basement. The building is has suffered little alteration, but is structurally sound.
Alterations: N/A


Construction: Construction Date:
Construction Started
Construction Completed
Usage: Usage Date:

Owner: Owner Date:
Parkland Lutheran Church

Architect: N/A
Builder: N/A
Craftsman: N/A

HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE: After the Calgary & 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 by members of a particular ethnic group would attract other people of that nationality to the same area, so that, by the turn of the 20th 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-1890's. 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 20th century. The arrival of the Canadian Pacific Railway, and the subdivision of the townsite 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 1946. 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. As early as June 1930 however, the Congregation had appointed a building committee, and Milford Bragar soon 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 Reverand 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 20th 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 had sprung up in the district, and the settlement wave of the early 20th century saw many non-Lutherans enter the area, especially to the east. No particular significance should be attached to the incorporation of the word "Evangelical" in the name of the Congregation, as Lutheran churches were doing this everywhere as a way to identify their fundamentalist roots and their divergence from Roman Catholicism.
Basement dug in 1930, structure completed in 1946.
Description of Historic Place

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 Carpenter Gothic windows. The front (north) elevation features an asymmetrically placed, square bell tower with a crenulated parapet and a centrally located porch. 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 architectural significance as an excellent example of rural church design in Alberta, particularly as a representative of Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran traditions.

Starting in the 1890s the region around Ohaton attracted a number of Lutheran Norwegian settlers from Minnesota. After 1900, additional Lutheran Norwegians, 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 began raising 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 the 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 traditions generated by the reforms of Hans Nielsen Hauge. The traditions are demonstrated by the overall simplicity of the church as evidenced by its stark appearance, the lack of decoration and ornamentation, and the use of white paint on the exterior walls and on the interior walls and ceilings. The starkness of the interior is relieved only by the natural wood colours of the pews, the lectern, the baptismal font and the altar. While this effect draws attention immediately to the altar area as the centre of worship services, 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 place of prominence accorded to the baptismal font speaks to the emphasis placed on that sacrament, which is one of only two practised in the Lutheran faith. A small choir loft located opposite the altar area reflects the important use of hymns in Lutheran worship services.

The church also exhibits many characteristics common to rural church design in Alberta. It is a relatively simple wood frame structure with a rafter-supported, medium-pitched gable roof clad in cedar shingles. Its exterior walls are clad in an unusual drop-siding that has rounded lower edges. Carpenter Gothic windows line its east and west elevations and flank and surmount the front entry. Access to the church is gained through a central double doorway, which is covered by a gable-roofed porch. The dominant feature of the church is the asymmetrically-placed, square bell tower with crenulated 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 to 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 crenulations on the top of the bell tower and the craftsmanship evident in the altar, baptismal font, interior railings and other furnishings.


Status: Status Date:

Designation Status: Designation Date:
Provincial Historic Resource
Record Information: Record Information Date:
WANG 1984/01/10


Alberta Register of Historic Places: 4665-1042
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