Hope photographer Ray Daws was able to salvage a few charred pages of a Bible from the site of a burned church in Quilchena. (Ray Daws photo)

B.C. photographer surprised to find church built in 1876 destroyed

Church in Quilchena was set ablaze in January, but will be rebuilt

A photographer from Hope took a road trip, hoping to capture images of an historic B.C. church this weekend, but was shocked at what he discovered.

Ray Daws says he and his wife drove to Quilchena, just outside of Merritt, to photograph the Murray United Church, which was built 143 years ago. Instead, they found a charred building where the charming church once stood.

“To our dismay, we found a pile of ashes being combed over by the pastor and his wife (Jack and Mavis Polmans),” said Daws, who sometimes contributes photos to this newspaper. “Apparently the church was hit by an arsonist on Jan. 11, 2019, who also torched three other churches in the area on the same night.”

READ MORE: Arrest made after historic B.C. church hit by arson

Daws hadn’t heard the news earlier this year, and reached out to share his discovery with others in Hope who may not realize the landmark is no longer there. He also wanted to let people know that there are plans to rebuild the church and a GoFundMe is collecting donations toward the efforts.

“This may be a repeat story, however I thought it might be a good read for the people in Hope and they might want to contribute.”

And while he didn’t get the photos he had intended to take, Daws did leave with a memento of sorts.

“Looking through the ashes we found a few charred pages of a Bible that the pastor said we could have,” he said. And chances are, in years to come there will be a familiar site in Quilchena.

The GoFundMe was last updated in late July with a journal entry that says “building plans are now being drawn up in the progression of the rebuild!”

It doesn’t list an exact timeline for the rebuild, but says there have been “countless hours spent by members of Trinity United in Merritt, along with some very dedicated community members,” pushing toward the resurrection of the church.

The historic Murray United Church on Highway 5A in the Nicola Valley was built in 1876. It had recently been refurbished through grant money from Canada 150 and was more than a church to the small community, hosting antique quilt shows, weddings, concerts and more.

“The grant money was used to repaint the inside and outside, repair the windows and walkways of the cemetery as well as place a memorial stone of those in unmarked graves, in its small, but rich historical cemetery,” the GoFundMe explains. “This included over 2,500 hours of volunteer work, a three-year project that was just completed this last year in 2018.”

One of the features left at the church include its original brick chimney.

– with files from Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Disaster recovery resources available for CRD residents impacted by flooding

Deadline is Aug. 5, 2020 to apply for disaster financial assistance

Williams Lake RCMP capture fugitive walking along Highway 97 in city limits

Witness said they could hear police yelling for suspect to ‘get down’

City of Quesnel sets dates for phased reopening of facilities

Playgrounds, washrooms and sports fields to open June 8, spray park June 15

COLUMN: Students head back to the classroom in Quesnel School Distict 28

District management and staff continue to serve the city and surrounding area well during COVID-19

Quesnel gold pan relocation prompts rally, response from mayor

“At its current location, it doesn’t let us tell our story”

March dental conference key to many of B.C.’s COVID-19 cases

Early infections from China, Iran were quickly contained

Vancouver Island First Nations gather to remember woman fatally shot by police

Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council requests an independent investigation

MAP: Dr. Henry reveals which B.C. regions have seen most COVID-19 cases

B.C. health officials release a first look at how the novel coronavirus has reached all corners of the province

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation woman, 26, fatally shot by police in Edmundston, N.B.

Police were conducting a well-being check at the time of the incident

Seniors to receive up to $500 in promised COVID-19 emergency aid in early July

The Liberal government first promised the extra help in mid-May, but had to create a new system to deliver the aid

VIDEO: Revelstoke bear wanders into Animal House pet store

Staff got ready to chase it out with a broom

New study is first full list of species that only exist in Canada

Almost 40 per cent of them are critically imperilled or imperilled and eight are already extinct

Federal aid for care home systems needed ahead of second wave, advocates say

Ontario Long Term Care Association calling for more action

Most Read