Aberhart's Westbourne Church / Stampede Expansion

Status of new or continuing risks to heritage sites

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Aberhart's Westbourne Church / Stampede Expansion

Postby newsposter » Tue May 30, 2006 8:19 pm

Updated March, 2011 - see bottom post


For news about Stampede expansion and other heritage sites, go here:
http://www.calgaryheritage.org/CHIForum/vi ... ?p=184#184


The 1910 Westbourne Baptist Church (home to the Victory Outreach Centre from 1992 - spring 2007), may be demolished for Stampede expansion. This brick gothic revival church is where William Aberhart preached before founding Alberta Social Credit and becoming Premier. As you can see from the photos below, the building, aside from the paintjob, is largely unchanged. More historic info, and information on who to contact in support of the building is below the photos.

Here is a link to a 1965 photo on the Calgary Public Library website, which shows the church before the white paint:
http://cdm280501.cdmhost.com/cdm4/item_ ... OX=1&REC=2

The colour photos are recent.

The following is drawn from Harry Sanders' Historic Walks of Calgary:
The church was built in 1910, and remained the home of the Westbourne congregation until 1967. From 1915 to 1929 evangelical layman William Aberhart ministered at Westbourne Baptist. It was here that he launched his radio ministry, the "Back to the Bible Hour" in the 1920s. By the end of that decade, he launched the Calgary Prophetic Bible Institute and built its headquarters on 8th Avenue SW (now demolished). Aberhart went on to found the Social Credit party and serve as Alberta's premier from 1935-43. His protege Ernest Manning followed as premier until 1969.

Here's more on Aberhart and Westbourne from the Canadian Encylopedia: http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/ ... RTA0000012

The risk:
The church is in the way of Stampede expansion plans, including a future hotel on Olympic Way. The building may have to be moved elsewhere in the expansion zone and find another use, but right now demolition seems more likely. The Calgary Exhibition and Stampede has plans to retain and re-use a number of other buildings on the heritage inventory within the expansion zone, but the fate of Aberhart's church is unresolved. You can find more about the Stampede expansion plans and other buildings here: http://www.calgaryheritage.org/CHIForum/vi ... .php?t=122

:arrow: If you have something to say about the possible loss of this building, contact area Alderman Madeleine King, madeleine.king@calgary.ca. Ald. King is also a City Council-appointed member of the Calgary Stampede Board, and the Calgary Heritage Authority. If you want to contact the Stampede Board, the Chairman of the Board and President is Steve Allan. The main email is reception3@calgarystampede.com. As always, a cc. to the info@calgaryheritage.org is appreciated.

Link to an article in February 16, 2006 Fast Forward about the displacement of the Victory Outreach Church.


Larry Heather photo - Inside Westbourne. January 2007
Last edited by newsposter on Fri Mar 11, 2011 8:45 am, edited 10 times in total.
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Postby newsposter » Sat Dec 30, 2006 12:55 pm

The fate of William Aberhart's Westbourne Church in the Stampede expansion zone remains uncertain. For more on William Aberhart, check out the excellent website of the Aberhart foundation. Click on 'The Man' at left for an MP3 of Muriel Manning (wife of Ernest, mother of Preston), reminscing about Westbourne Baptist and Mr. Aberhart.

Stampede development is continuing with the Casino under construction and the Round-Up centre expansion seeking development approvals. Here is a November 24 news article about their plans (free access as of this posting), and a link to the Stampede development page:
- http://www.canada.com/calgaryherald/new ... a721cd3d06
- http://development.calgarystampede.com/ ... ur_future/

The Victory Outreach centre has had its stay extended for a few months while it seeks to raise funds for a new home. Reportedly it is planning to move to the historic Ogden Hotel/Alyth Lodge. See the link:
http://www.calgarypubliclibrary.com/cal ... ogdenh.htm


Art Dixon, President of the William Aberhart Historical Foundation, recently passed away. Here is a link to the obituary. He contributed a lot to the people of Alberta.\

http://www.socialcredit.com/photos/art_ ... ituary.jpg
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Postby newsposter » Mon Jun 04, 2007 5:09 pm

May 27 2007 Herald Story on "The Vanishing Face of Victoria Park". This was the last day Westbourne Church was open as the Victory Outreach Centre. Excerpt below:

The church's ultimate fate is unknown, according to Stampede officials.

"It is either moving or being demolished, but it can't stay where it is," says Warren Connell, vice-president of park development and operations.

"That's right where the hotel is going."

Of the 220 properties that once made up Victoria Park, the Stampede has demolished 92 of them and retained three for preservation. Others were taken down by other developers over the years.

Two more homes will meet the wrecking ball before Stampede's opening night, July 6.

Connell said he's working with the city's historical society (Calgary Heritage Authority) to determine what to do with the church.

"It's far easier for us to clear-cut than preserve," he says, "but the Stampede is about preserving western values."

http://www.canada.com/calgaryherald/new ... aa1154a53e

May 28 2007 Herald story "Victory Centre marks legacy of Success". About the moving of the church from Vic Park to another historic building in Ogden, the old Ogden Hotel.

http://www.canada.com/calgaryherald/new ... 7b51aaf6f6
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Postby newsposter » Wed Aug 22, 2007 10:34 am

The future of Westbourne Church seems more secure after an action by City Council in June 2007. In passing amendments to the Stampede lease, essentially involving the transfer of 'expansion lands' to the Stampede, Council added that "Prior to the transfer of any Lands listed on Calgary's Inventory of Potential Heritage Sites... that the protection and preservation of these sites be resolved to the satisfaction of the City of Calgary Senior Heritage Planner."

In correspondence related to the this file, the Senior Heritage Planner indicated that municipal designation was the preferred means of protecting the sites. In their correspondence the Stampede did not support designation, but indicated that they believed the church could be accommodated in the "youth campus" area. This is couple of blocks east of the current Church location, where four other historic sites are being preserved (an Edwardian grocery store as the Kinsmen Centre, the Oliver House, the Weston bakery as part of the Olds college campus, and the Rundle Ruins). But they added that they had not done the planning or stakeholder consultation and were therefore unwilling to make firm commitments. In any case, this all seems like a step forward. Click this link for more information about these other sites and Stampede expansion in general: http://www.calgaryheritage.org/CHIForum/vi ... ?p=184#184

From the June 25, 2007 minutes of City Council


Amendment to previously authorized amended and restated lease, transfer of beneficial ownership, land exchange and right of first offer to purchase.

That Council:
1. Approve the amendments to the previously authorized amended and restated lease as outlined in Attachment 2;
2. Approve the transfers and land exchange recommendations as outlined in Attachment 2;
3. Approve the right of first offer to purchase recommendations as outlined in Attachment 2;
4. Authorize Administration to negotiate the terms of an agreement with CES, to the satisfaction of the Director of Corporate Properties & Buildings, such agreement to provide, among other things, for the transfer of the exclusive right to the CES’s trade name for the Calgary Exhibition & Stampede in the event CES fails to host the annual Calgary Exhibition & Stampede for a period of two consecutive years;
5. Authorize Administration to resolve the future of the Beltline Community Association to the satisfaction of the Director of Community & Neighborhood Services prior to any disposition of reserve on the Community Centre lands or transfer of land ownership of the Community Centre lands; and
6. Direct that report C2007-49 including its Recommendations and Attachments remain confidential until the conclusion of the in-camera portion of the 2007 June 25 Regular Confirmed Minutes – 2007 June 25

Moved by Alderman King, Seconded by Alderman Jones,

That the Administration Recommendations contained in Report C2007-49 be adopted; after amendment as follows:

Attachment 2, page 4 of 6, item (2) (e) (iv)
(iv) Prior to the transfer of any Lands listed on Calgary's Inventory of Potential Heritage Sites as set out in Attachment 5, that the protection and preservation of these sites be resolved to the satisfaction of the City of Calgary Senior Heritage Planner.

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Postby newsposter » Wed Jan 16, 2008 10:26 am

The Westbourne Church will have to be moved or incorporated in the project described below. Moving elsewhere on the grounds is most likely. See above for the history on this.

Full story at the link - excerpts below

http://www.canada.com/calgaryherald/new ... 460c5ebc2c

Mario Toneguzzi
Calgary Herald

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Calgary Stampede has struck an exclusive agreement with Alberta Development Partners to explore the development of a main street retail zone at Stampede Park....

...The main street retail area will involve between 150,000 and 200,000 square feet of mixed-use entertainment and retail. It will be between 12th Avenue S.E. and 14th Avenue S.E. along Olympic Way S.E. A hotel project is also part of the plan.

By late spring or mid-summer, the Stampede hopes to have a plan for the project presented to the city for a development permit application. Completion of the project is planned for either 2010 or 2011...
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Postby newsposter » Thu Jan 22, 2009 8:56 am

http://www.calgaryherald.com/opinion/Sa ... story.html

Save Bible Bill's old church

By Larry Heather, For The Calgary Herald
January 22, 2009

With the ongoing expansion of the Stampede grounds, the future of the historic old Westbourne Baptist Church is uncertain. Those passing by the 436 13th Ave. S. E. site in the scant remains of Victoria Park may see only an old and perhaps outdated white, brick building. The new Stampede Casino now surrounds it to the west. But a rediscovery of the profound history emanating from the 250-person chapel makes it an important link in the history of Alberta.

Established as a mission church of First Baptist in 1905, the present structure was built in 1910 from a grant given from the Westbourne Church in London, England. The British pastor there, Dr. John Clifford, had an active interest in Baptist outreach in Calgary. So the new church was named in honour of its English counterpart, and retained that historic building name over 102 years until the present.

The original Baptist congregation moved out in 1967, eventually to relocate to the new Westbourne Church in northwest Calgary. After several vacant years, the little church revived as a meeting place for the Victory Outreach Centre--which ministered mostly to the poor --for 15 years, until their last service was held at that site in May 2007.

A miniature but distinct example of a gothic revival style, the small mission congregation of modest means was in need of a preacher in the year of 1915. On Dec. 15 of that year, just after the close of the Great War, the increasingly popular and able William Aberhart offered his services as a lay pastor for no remuneration. He would minister to them, while continuing his day employment as a high school principal of the new Crescent Height Collegiate Institute, all the while building a reputation as one of Western's Canada's leading educators. The church grew and prospered under his teaching.

Conversions and discipleship by Aberhart at the West-bourne Church formed crucial leadership associates, who would later be invaluable in the start of new ventures of his influence in the future. Muriel Preston (Manning) and Cyril Hutchinson (later the Prophetic/ Berean Bible Principal), were both young people in the congregation at the time.

Thursday evening prophecy classes taught by Aberhart attracted many from other churches and came to be known as the Calgary Prophetic Bible Conference. It quickly outgrew the 250-person capacity at Westbourne Chapel, and eventually settled in the much larger Grand (1,600 seats) and Palace theatres (2,000 seats). It was at the Palace that the radio broadcasts, encouraged by CFCN founder W. W. Grant, began in the fall of 1925. Aberhart's radio preaching grew to an eventual audience of more than 300,000 and provided the original sponsor a brick and rafter campaign to fund the building of the new Calgary Prophetic Bible Institute at 516 8th Ave. W. in 1927.

The first student to sign up was the Rosetown, Sask., farm-boy, Ernest C. Manning. The Westbourne congregation moved to the Institute Auditorium for its services, as well. But in 1929, disagreements over Aberhart's dominant leadership led to a split, with at least half of the people returning to the old church building, the others remaining with Aberhart at the Independent Bible Institute Baptist Church (later to become Bethel Baptist). Muriel Preston had been drafted at the age of 13 as the Westbourne pianist by Aberhart. She then became music director of the radio ministry.

The theories of Social Credit originator Maj. C. H. Douglas, via the writings of Maurice Colbourne, were critical in launching Aberhart's interest in monetary reform in the depths of the Depression. As the Social Credit teaching mixed with Aberhart's radio evangelism, a ready response of hope in the depths of the Depression resonated in the vast radio congregation. The movement first formed as study groups designed to pressure the provincial United Farmers party to monetary reform.

Being rebuffed in their efforts, Aberhart launched from the study groups the Alberta Social Credit party. Their victory in the 1935 election propelled Aberhart into the office of premier, and his movement later under Ernest Manning would complete 37 years of administering the government of Alberta. Muriel Preston made the Edmonton migration to marry Ernest a year later.

The Western Baptist Bible College was started at Westbourne in 1934 to 1939, when it was temporarily closed for the wartime involvement of its would-be students. (It is now the Northwest Baptist College&Seminary in Langley, B. C.) In an interesting twist, this second college formed from the old Westbourne has an Aberhart student bursary program from an endowment fund from the Aberhart Radio Ministry.

These major developments all began with the launch of Aberhart's ministry as a lay preacher, in that Old Westbourne Baptist Church. This historic church should be preserved on the Calgary Stampede grounds. Its transformation into an Aberhart legacy museum is the most logical and lasting use for this vital catalyst in Alberta history. A place which memorializes the profound heritage of William Aberhart for future generations of Albertans.

Larry Heather is director with The William Aberhart Historical Foundation, founded in 2000 by the late socred MLA and Speaker of The House Art Dixon, C. M.

© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald
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Postby newsposter » Thu Mar 05, 2009 10:14 am

A new Aberhart documentary is part of a ten-part series, The Premiers which begins on March 1st CPAC, channel 109.

Link to CPAC The Premiers
http://www.cpac.ca/forms/index.asp?dsp= ... 225&lang=e

William Aberhart - Alberta

Sunday, March 22nd, at 7 pm Mountain Time

An evangelist known as "Bible Bill," William Aberhart served as premier from 1935 to 1943 as his province faced bankruptcy. He ran on the promise to feed and cloth the destitute and made it his lifelong goal to fight the injustices of the poor. Acting on the principles of Social Credit, Aberhart led Alberta by challenging the banks, courts and the press as he sought to reform the system for the people.

Featuring lively and candid interviews with Aberhart’s friends from the Calgary Prophetic Bible Institute, including Larry Heather, Olive Hutchinson and Mary Macomber, and Aberhart’s granddaughter Patricia Hilton, the documentary reveals the story of a man who was the symbol of salvation at a time of extreme economic hardship.

CPAC presents The Premiers, an unprecedented TV event that documents the lives and legacies of ten dynamic leaders. Produced by award-winning journalist Holly Doan, The Premiers focuses on the premiers and provinces that shaped a nation. The series features rare archival film never before seen on television and lively interviews with colleagues and commentators such as Conrad Black, Shirley Douglas, and John Crosbie. The documentaries capture the Canadian experience – from British Columbia to Newfoundland – as told through the political struggles of the country’s most unforgettable premiers.
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Postby newsposter » Sun Mar 29, 2009 2:08 pm

Posted on behalf of Larry Heather of www.aberhartfoundation.ca

You may be interested in reviewing Holly Doan's The Premier's CPAC
special on William Aberhart which first showed Sunday, March 22 at 7pm.
The online version is available at the link below. It is thirty minutes
long , but well worth the time. It contains a variety of viewpoints, but is
the best by far for along time on this major personality in Alberta History.

You can now view the Aberhart Premier's video at the link below, as well as BC Socred Premier WAC Bennett and the other premiers profiled:

http://www.cpac.ca/forms/index.asp?dsp= ... 225&lang=e
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Postby rainbow2009 » Mon May 11, 2009 6:39 pm

simulation credit auto
Thanks a lot. This link is brilliant! ^^ :shock:
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Postby newsposter » Fri Jul 02, 2010 10:43 am

More time to figure out what to do with Westbourne church...

Major Stampede entertainment complex to open a year late
Delay blamed on economic downturn
By Tamara Gignac, Calgary Herald June 17, 2010

A massive, $150-million entertainment and shopping complex planned for the Calgary Stampede will open almost a year behind schedule...
Read more: http://www.calgaryherald.com/business/M ... z0sY2Qva3o

Link to a 1965 photo of the Church - currently painted white and behind a fence on Olympic Way. http://cdm280501.cdmhost.com/cdm4/item_ ... OX=1&REC=2
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Postby newsposter » Mon Nov 29, 2010 8:38 pm

See above ^ for information on several historic buildings in the Stampede expansion zone.

Calgary Stampede Park moves ahead with $400-million expansion
Several projects to be completed by 2014
By Mario Toneguzzi, Calgary Herald November 9, 2010

CALGARY - With the economic recession behind us, Calgary's Stampede Park is moving forward with its $400-million expansion and redevelopment that will be completed within the next three years or so, the Herald has learned...

Read more: http://www.calgaryherald.com/business/C ... z16jX0bwNf

Link to the Stampede's development page:
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Postby alisontin » Mon Jan 10, 2011 10:37 pm

Thanks a lot for sharing the links here, it is very helpful.

Binders and Covers For You
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Postby newsposter » Fri Mar 11, 2011 8:43 am

Upcoming radio shows on the past and possible future of historic Westbourne Baptist Church, in the "Stampede Expansion Zone"...

Dear Friends,

In Downtown Calgary on the Stampede Grounds is a building of great historical importance that is recognized by The City of Calgary as a
Heritage Resource. It is the old Westbourne Baptist Church Building which
housed congregations under such Preachers as William Aberhart, Ernest Hansell, and Morley Hall. Speculation of the Stampede moving the building to another site would prove to be a disappointing break in the true history and contribution this building has to offer. It would be best preserved as a museum to the Political & Protestant Baptist history of the past.

These next two Sundays on Gospel Road ( March 13th & 20th, 2011 -
AM1140 Radio, 2pm ) we will examine The Early Days of Westbourne Baptist. Interviews recorded of Mrs. Muriel Manning, John Hutchinson, Arve and Emma Wilkinson, and Albert Stewart will give us insight into the rich history of both Aberhart and Morley Hall and John Cunningham eras of this storied Church location. We will here an outline of the Church's origin and history, and hear some readings of the early Westbourne Young People's Society newsletter, the Cheer Up. ( A young sixteen year old visitor from Rosetown, Ernest Manning is written of in 1927 three times!)

And you will hear about how we can preserve this building as a major tourist attraction and museum for the benefit of the coming generations.
Tune in and tell others about these special Gospel Road shows coming up on The Early Days of Westbourne Baptist. That's starting this Sunday at 2-3pm.

Yours Truly,
Your Gospel Road Host,
Larry Heather

PS Pass this message on to those you think would be interested.
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Postby grigorianz » Sat Mar 26, 2011 1:03 am

Some links do not work (
vision correctionкосоглазие

Postby newsposter » Sat Apr 02, 2011 12:28 pm

Dear CHI Forums,
Just a note that a significant amount of pictures and documents relating
to the history of the old Westbourne Baptist Church have been added
to the Preacher's Page of www.aberhartfoundation.ca

Of particular interest to the arts is the woodwork and crafts of Alfred J. Girling, who made the old pulpit and communion table which still exist at the new Church location.

Larry Heather, Director
William Aberhart Historical Foundation

(posted on his behalf by NP)
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