St. Stephen's United Church

9696 Ladner Trunk Road
Delta, BC

Built: 1890-91

St. Stephen's United Church is a prominent, one-storey wood-frame front-gabled Gothic Revival church standing in open, rural farmland. It is located close to Ladner Trunk Road within sight of other rural residences, with mature trees along the front perimeter and a parking lot adjacent.

Status: Still Standing

St. Stephen's United Church - 2004
click photo to enlarge

Heritage Value

St. Stephen's United Church is valued for its association with pioneering Delta families and the early development of the East Delta community, settled at an early date in the district's history on account of its flat, fertile land. The first country parish church on the site was built in 1881 on land donated by the McKee family, one of the original pioneering families in the area; two years later the church burned down, and was replaced by this current structure in 1890-91. Originally a Presbyterian denomination, it was a place of worship and community for the McKee, Kittson, Honeyman, Robertson, Smillie, Dennis and Huff families, thus serving as a valuable legacy of Delta's pioneering origins and earliest settlement.

Additionally, St. Stephen's United Church is valued as a good and early example of a simple, Gothic Revival vernacular church structure. Modest in size and form, the church, with its basic rectangular plan and front-gabled roof, is distinguished by Gothic pointed-arch windows. Notably, some of the windows retain their original etched glass panes, with a small, unetched quatrefoil pattern; this glass would not have been available locally and would have been an expensive imported feature. Typical of Presbyterian churches, the decoration of St. Stephen's was minimal and restrained. Well maintained and with few substantial changes other than a rear addition, the church remains in excellent, and mostly original, interior and exterior condition.

St. Stephen's United Church is an early surviving example of the work of prominent local contractor, John B. Elliot (1857-1930), after whom one of Ladner's streets is named. Elliot worked extensively throughout Delta, building many of the most prominent early homes and many commercial buildings, including canneries.

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that define the heritage character of St. Stephen's United Church include its:

  • original and intact setting, set back from the street on a large lot
  • location in a rural context with views across productive farmland
  • continuous use as a church
  • ecclesiastical form, scale and massing as expressed by its one-storey height, rectangular plan and projecting front entry porch
  • front-gabled roof with closed soffitts, bargeboards and frieze
  • post foundation with vertical tongue-and-groove cladding at foundation level
  • wood-frame construction, clad with wooden drop siding and cornerboards, with simple wooden window surrounds
  • additional exterior features such as its enclosed entrance porch with original front door with diagonal wooden panelling and original hardware, with dentil course and pointed-arch transom above
  • regular fenestration, such as: narrow, 5-over-4 double hung wooden-sash windows with horns, with Gothic pointed-arch tops; imported quatrefoil design etched glass; and circular window in the front gable (now blocked in)
  • interior features including original millwork, vertical wooden tongue-and-groove wainscoting, diagonal tongue-and-groove panelling above, large panelled cove at the junction of the wall and ceiling, and wooden pews
  • associated landscape features such as grassed churchyard and mature trees