Stone Butter Church

history,historic places,Duncan,Cowichan,church,buildings,first nations,Roman Catholic,Father Peter Rondeault,Comiaken Hill

Stone Butter Church – Comiaken Hill

In the 1870 Roman Catholic missionaries were intent bringing the local Cowichan Indian communities into their flock. Father Peter Rondeault, a missionary to the Cowichan Indians, decided to build a church for the Cowichan Indians.

The stone church was constructed on Comiaken Hill, using money collected from the sale of the butter churned from the milk of Father Rondeault’s cows to pay the Cowichan Indians that worked on the church, hence the name “The Butter Church”. Services were held in the church for ten years, 1870 to 1880.

While Father Rondeault’s church was solidly built it was on rather shaky ground as title to the property had not been obtained. A verbal agreement between the Cowichan tribe and Father Rondeault authorizing the construction of the church on Indian land was not sufficient for the Bishop Demers, and he ordered that a new church be built on land with clear title.

The congregation moved into the newly built St. Ann’s Church at Tzouhalem, the stone church was deconsecrated, and then fell into disrepair shortly after the doors and the beautiful stained glass windows were removed and installed in St. Paul’s Church on Saltspring Island.

Repairs were attempted in 1922, in 1958, and in 1980 the church was rebuilt as a cultural centre, but again rapidly reverted to a vandalized shell of a former church.

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