Trinity Norwegian Lutheran Church

11040 River Road
Delta, BC

Built: 1910
 

Trinity Norwegian Lutheran Church is a prominent front-gabled church with a corner entry, octagonal spire and semicircular apse. The church is situated on a steeply sloped site overlooking the Fraser River in the Scandinavian neighboorhood of Annieville.

Status: Still Standing

Trinity Norwegian Lutheran Church - 2006
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Heritage Value

The establishment of Trinity Norwegian Lutheran Church in North Delta reflects the strength and continuity of the Scandinavian community that settled in the neighbourhoods of Annieville and Sunbury in the late nineteenth century. The salmon fishing and processing industry was integral to Delta's early development. Beginning in 1870, the earliest salmon canneries were built along North Delta's Fraser River waterfront, and thrived as an industry that provided work for thousands of out-of-work immigrants after the completion of the railway and the subsidence of gold rush activities. Drawn to the booming fishing and canning industries, Scandinavian immigrants settled in the area surrounding the canneries, in settlements that came to be known as Annieville and Sunbury. By the turn of the twentieth century, Delta was home to a leading salmon fishing community, and was second only to Steveston for local canning capacity. This expansive growth of this Scandinavian fishing community left a distinct mark on the social landscape of North Delta, and led to the establishment of community services, including a school in Sunbury in 1897, another in Annieville in 1906, a local post office in 1901 and this landmark church, that remains an anchor to the community.

Trinity Norwegian Lutheran Church is also of historical significance for its association with the growth of the Lutheran denomination. With an increase in Norwegian immigrants working in the booming fishing and canning industries, a local Lutheran congregation was first organized in 1892, including Norwegians from South Westminster, Lulu Island and New Westminster. Their first meeting place was a rented Chinese mission church in New Westminster. In 1904, funds were raised by the community and a church was built on Norum Point in North Delta. With the construction of a railway line on land just below the church by the Great Northern Railway, and River Road being built just above, the congregation decided to move to a new location. Construction was started in 1909 by Olaf Stokkeland and a group of volunteers, many of whom were Delta's earliest Norwegian pioneers. The church was completed the following year and dedicated on May 22, 1910. The Ladies Aid, established in 1904, purchased two bells for the church, and services were conducted in Norwegian until 1940. Today this church is still used for its original religious purposes and continues in its role of community service and as a place of worship.

Trinity Norwegian Lutheran Church is further valued as a good example of an elegant Gothic Revival vernacular church that retains many of its original features. Grand in size and form, the church has a rectangular plan and front-gabled roof, and is distinguished by its majestic corner spire, and a semicircular apse reminiscent of a boat's wheelhouse. Gothic pointed-arch windows with coloured and textured glass accent the sides of the church. The interior is beautifully detailed, with fir pews that replaced the original chairs in 1926. Well maintained and with few substantial changes other than a southern addition built in 1978, the church remains in excellent, and mostly original, interior and exterior condition.

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that define the heritage character of Trinity Norwegian Lutheran Church include its:

  • prominent siting at the crest of a steeply-sloping hill in the centre of the historic Annieville community, with commanding views of the Fraser River
  • continuous use as a church
  • ecclesiastical form, scale and massing, as expressed by the one-storey height with basement, rectangular plan, front-gabled roof with closed eaves and closed gabled transepts, semicircular apse, and projecting square corner tower with octagonal spire and corner entrance
  • wood frame construction with lapped wood siding
  • Gothic Revival-inspired details, such as the pointed-arch windows and the finials on the octagonal steeple
  • exterior architectural details, including sandstone cornerstone on west face of church, six-panel front doors with transom, and a rear exterior red-brick chimney
  • windows such as double-hung, one-over-one wood sash windows with horns, and Gothic pointed-arch multi-paned windows with coloured and textured glass
  • a coloured glass, crescent-shaped window on west side of church
  • interior features, such as raked flooring, wooden altar in apse, chamfered ceiling, original panelled doors, unpainted tongue-and-groove wood siding in vestibule, and wooden wainscoting
  • fir pews dating from 1926
  • landscape features, such as mature fir trees at rear of property