Written by Jennifer Strassel
In 1905, a student of Toronto’s Wycliffe College, W. Ellis, came to Lac du Bonnet and held Anglican services in the one room school house. With area population near four hundred at the time, Ellis was about to gather enough families to form a congregation.
The St. John’s Anglican Church was built in 1906 by local residents Thomas Houston and Alexander Spence, with Spence’s three sons, Bill, Warner and John, employees of the local J.D. McArthur Lumber Mill and Brickworks, as labourers.
The 24 x 45-foot church, placed on a traditional east-west axis on a corner lot, was constructed using wood and bricks manufactured at the local lumbermill and brickworks. It consisted of an entirely wood frame building with tie rod truss roof supports and eight Gothic-inspired windows. A wood burning stove, with a brick chimney extending out of the southeast corner of the roof, provided heat. It cost $850 to complete. An additional $100 was raised by the people of Lac du Bonnet to provide church pews.
The first church service was held on August 12, 1906.
The arrival of the incumbent Reverend A.A. Adams, from Kenora, on September 9, 1906, marked the official opening of the church.
By 1908, the church was cleared of debts. On October 4, 1908, the church was consecrated by the First Bishop of Keewatin, RT. Rev. J. Lofthouse, and given the patronal name St. John.
In 1916, under Rev. R.E. Lemon, a 32-foot belfry was added at the church entrance by local residents Hans Johnson and Henry Park. A simple cross topped the pyramid spire with decorative corbels and twelve wooden louvers let the bell tolls be heard throughout Lac du Bonnet.
By 1917, the St. John’s Anglican Church provided services in Whitemouth, Pointe du Bois and Pinawa (at the Winnipeg Electric Railway Company’s generating station).
A small parish hall was added on the east side of the church in 1923, under Rev. T.H. Broughton. The hall held Sunday School, Cub Scouts and Girl Guides.