Swedish Lutheran Church – Dunlevy Avenue

This was the first Swedish Lutheran Church built in Vancouver, seen here in 1904, the year it was built, photographed by Philip Timms. It was built on the north-east corner of Princess (today that’s East Pender) and Dunlevy and was known as The First Swedish Church. There had been a house on the lot in 1903, and it looks like it was relocated next to the church, on the north side, and then altered and moved again in 1909, closer to the lane.

This building was founded by a visiting Augustana Lutheran, Pastor G A Anderson, whose congregation was in LaConner, in Washington. The newly established church had 34 members in 1903, and a year later the Rev. C Rupert Swanson organized the construction of the building that seated 100. It was 25 feet by 38, and cost $595 to erect. The census tells us that there were a number of Swedish carpenters in the city, and it’s likely that the cost was mostly the materials rather than the labour. The congregation grew, and in 1910 there was a new church that could seat up to 1,000, built a block away to the east.

This building was listed for several years into the early 1920s as ‘Miner Hall’, but there are no records of it being used, or any events associated with it. By the mid 1920s it was once again being used as a church – a Chinese Presbyterian congregation moving in, but by 1930 the address was no longer listed. However, the United Church Chinese Mission were based at a Dunlevy address from 1929. We think the new church was the ‘United Church Chapal and Seminary designed by H S Griffith in 1930. (The Chinese Presbyterians also built a new church on Keefer near Gore in 1930).

This new, larger building extending slightly further east. There was also a Christian Education Centre, and for nearly 70 years the mission relied on the Board of Home Missions and the Woman’s Missionary Society for financial support and leadership, and was known as the Chinese Mission, United Church of Canada. It achieved full self-support in 1955, and became known as the Chinese United Church.

Today the Chinese United Church Lodge provides 29 units of non-market housing, almost hidden by the landscaping. It was completed in 1993 and designed by Joe Wai Architects. The Chinese United Church joined congregations with the Chown Memorial United Church, and they jointly retain ownership of the land, which is leased to the Housing Society.

Image sources: VPL and City of Vancouver Archives CVA 786-50.01

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Posted 20 May 2021 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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