Restoration of St Aidan Orthodox Church in Cranbrook, BC

February 23, 2018

“Fr. Andrew, I love what you are doing to restore the Church over on 7th Ave and 2nd St. South.”

I can’t count how many times I have had this expressed to me over the last several months! Of course, I’m not hard to spot in my “street clothes” consisting of a long grey cassock, black vest and large silver pectoral cross dangling at my chest. But I have been amazed and overwhelmed with the support and good wishes of the Cranbrook community, dozens of whom who have stopped me as I made my way around the streets of Cranbrook, congratulating us for the amazing restoration of our church with the large distinctive silver Cupola (dome), one of our treasured Cranbrook historical buildings

Our little mission parish of St. Aidan Orthodox Church purchased the church building on March 31 of this year from our good friend Bishop Ken and the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy; the previous owners (for the last 65 years). The church was formerly known as “The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin.” Although St. Aidan’s had been leasing the building from the Ukrainian Catholic owners for the last few years, being renters rather than owners, we couldn’t really start the badly needed restoration work that the 65-year-old historic building needed, even if we could afford it – which we certainly could not. Bishop Ken approached us asking if we would consider buying the building from them if they were to give us a mortgage for the entire purchase price of $250,000 (including the church and the 3 bedroom 2-story house next door – prices are pretty good here in Cranbrook) at 1% interest? This would make our mortgage payments about the same as our present lease payments to them. It wasn’t a real tough decision!

There had been a fire in 1979, and while the interior of the building was repaired, some of the rafters had been charred, and so the structural strength of the roof system was in question. Immediately upon purchasing the building, we hired a local structural engineering expert, and he confirmed we had big and expensive repairs to do. In addition, the stucco was original and needed restoration, the front stairs needed repairs and the roof ventilation system was defective; faithfully producing wonderfully huge icicles with sharp points each winter! Our small mission parish was now the proud owner of this classic historical building, but we had very little in the way of financial ability to take on this badly needed work.

Thanks be to God and the Columbia Basin Trust/Heritage BC and their Built Heritage Grant program! Within 2 weeks of our purchase, they announced a grant program which seemed tailor made for our situation. Upon applying for and receiving a $70,000 grant to do the needed restoration work, we have been able to spend the fall completely restoring the exterior of the church for a total cost of around $100,000.  New rafters; a properly double ventilated “cold roof” system; extended new cedar soffits and fascia; completely restored stucco repairs with a new stucco top coat on the entire building; new cedar front stairs; a new timber framed entrance roof; all crowned by a beautiful 24-gauge hidden fastener steel roof with state of the art snow fence system. We are now a certified “icicle free” building!

We were most fortunate to be able to hire our wonderful talented Orthodox brother and neighbor Jeremy Eisenhauer from Fr. Nilos’s, St. John in the Wilderness mission parish, who came out with his crew to complete most of the work, and all went beautifully. 

Come on out to the mountains here in beautiful Cranbrook, BC and see for yourself!  If you’re looking to move to a small place (20,000 people) with a 5-minute traffic jam at rush hour, reasonably priced real estate and a wonderful Orthodox mission parish give me a call!

Fr Andrew Applegate