Restoration of historic St. Andrew’s Anglican Church postponed

St. Andrew's Anglican Church in Fort Selkirk, Yukon. Photo: Liz Hargreaves
St. Andrew's Anglican Church in Fort Selkirk, Yukon. Photo: Liz Hargreaves
Published September 4, 2015

St. Andrew’s Anglican Church, located in the Yukon’s historic Fort Selkirk, was slated to undergo a major restoration this summer, but the project has hit a snag.

The building’s sill logs-those that are in direct contact with the ground and together form the church’s foundation-are rotting, and need to be replaced.

Bruce Barrett, historic sites project officer with the Yukon government, told the CBC in July that the current logs would be replaced with pressure-treated wood. The replacements would not be visible once the restoration is completed. Barrett had hoped the project would be finished by the end of the summer.

Unfortunately, the work on the foundation has been pushed back to the summer of 2016 due to a delay in the creation of the project’s engineering plans, said Barbara Hogan, historic sites manager with the Yukon government. It was judged there would not be enough time left this summer to finish the restoration, and working on the building during the winter is unfeasible, she told the Anglican Journal in an interview.

St. Andrew’s was built in 1931 using wood and various materials scavenged from the abandoned Yukon Field Force barracks. The Force, an agent of the Canadian government, was stationed in Fort Selkirk in 1898 to defend and uphold Canadian sovereignty during the Klondike Gold Rush; it departed less than two years later.

The church is one of three buildings that remain of the Anglican mission that was set up by the Rev. Thomas Henry Canham in 1892 to minister to Fort Selkirk’s unique blend of settlers and Indigenous people-the other two being a log schoolhouse and a mission house-and the only building in Fort Selkirk that was designed by an architect. Bishop Isaac O. Stringer, among the primary forces who pushed for the church’s construction, dedicated it in the year it was built.

St. Andrew’s was used regularly until the early 1950s, when Fort Selkirk’s populace drifted away almost entirely after the settlement was bypassed during the construction of the Klondike Highway. The church’s last regular minister, the Anglican missionary Kathleen Cowaret, moved to Minto in 1953.

Today, Fort Selkirk and St. Andrew’s are jointly owned and operated by the Selkirk First Nation and the Yukon government’s department of tourism and culture.

Fort Selkirk itself is accessible only by boat or by plane, and the church is no loner used for services. It does, however, host and occasional wedding, said Hogan.


  • Ben Graves

    Ben Graves worked as an intern for the Anglican Journal until August 2015.

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