Sunday, October 22

Church History

My husband's father was in the Yukon long before we were. During the construction of the Alaska Highway, he left his wife and a couple of kids behind (Hubby wasn't born yet!) and came way up here for nine months to work construction while the road to Alaska was built. I'd always assumed he's worked in road construction, since he had a construction company with road building equipment, but hubby corrected me several years ago. His dad had done plumbing--his real trade--while he was up here. I asked hubby where he'd done plumbing, and he thought he'd plumbed the new highway camps built as the road went through.

Framed and mounted in the dining room, we have a postcard that my husband's father (Albin Stark) sent to his own mother (my husband's grandmother) while he was here. On the front is a photo of the little Anglican church in Carcross, which is a village 50 miles or so south of Whitehorse. On the back is a message to his mom.

My husband's father died when he was only 49 and my husband was only 11. I think part of the incentive for my husband taking the teaching job up here was that he would, in a small way, be following in his father's footsteps.* When the sons and I made a trip to Carcross recently, youngest son said, "It's weird to think that Grandpa Stark was once here."

I don't think Carcross has changed a whole lot since Grandpa was there, either. Here's a photo, taken by oldest son, of the same little church as it looks today. (You can click on the picture for the larger view.) It looks much the same as it did in 1943, except there is an electrical line to the church, a light over the door, and no bell in the steeple. There's also a boardwalk to the church in the old photo that isn't there on the new one. We had a family discussion about whether the windows are newer additions, and we think they are, but we can't be sure.

This church was built in 1904, but was located on the other side of the narrows and moved across the narrows on a scow several years later. It is still in use today, with services on the first and third Sundays of every month.

You can see more photos and read a little more about the village of Carcross here. It is truly one of the historical gems of the north, and it's location is breathtaking.

Oldest son has more photos from Carcross, too:
Update: Here's a pdf with a walking tour of the historic Carcross buildings, including this church and the Arne Ormen cabin mentioned by Judy in the comments.

*Hubby followed his father's footsteps in another way. He died of the same sort of cancer--it's hard to be sure, since details on his father's cancer are sketchy--one week after his 53rd birthday, leaving a young son who had just turned 13.