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Presbyterian church celebrates 150 years in Nanaimo

NANAIMO – St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church celebrates 150 years with activities and events through summer.
Jill McLennan organizes music for an upcoming concert at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church. The congregation is celebrating 150 years in Nanaimo with events throughout the summer. CHRIS BUSH The News Bulletin

St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church will host a vintage car and antique show this weekend as part of a series of events scheduled throughout the summer to celebrate the congregation’s 150th anniversary in Nanaimo.

St. Andrew’s Presbyterian was established in 1865 by Rev. Robert Jamieson, who held services in Nanaimo’s courthouse until a sanctuary was constructed on Fitzwilliam Street in 1866.

Nanaimo’s population was about 600 people then and 19 of them were listed on the Presbyterian communion roll, which included coal and railway developer Robert Dunsmuir.

In 1902 a movement started to amalgamate the large number of church denominations under the United Church.

“Between 1902 and 1925 this was hugely, hotly debated and our congregation did not become part of that union, which is why we’re the oldest continuing Presbyterian congregation,” said Karen Hovestad, a congregation member.

In 1930, the cornerstone was laid for a new church building at the corner of Franklyn and Robson streets, which remained the congregation’s place of worship until 1972 when the property was sold. A new, multipurpose building was constructed at the corner of Departure Bay Road and Wassel Way where congregation continues to worship in its newest sanctuary opened in 1988.

The multipurpose building remains home to various church programs, including a community lunch on Thursdays that feeds about 150 per week, including about 110 students it draws from Wellington Secondary School.

“We’re feeding their mouths, feeding their tummies, feeding their souls in a very subtle way,” Hovestad said.

Also on this summer’s agenda is the creation of a gathering space behind the church. A dedication ceremony and laying of the cornerstone of the church constructed in 1930 is scheduled for Aug. 30.

The actual anniversary on Nov. 28 will be celebrated at Royal Canadian Legion Branch 256.

For more information, including upcoming events, please visit

Chris Bush

About the Author: Chris Bush

As a photographer/reporter with the Nanaimo News Bulletin since 1998.
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