Calgary Then and Now: Knox United Church in 1912

One of Calgary’s most vibrant downtown churches used to be on a residential street.

It once towered over the residential street on which it stood, but now Knox United Church on 6 Avenue and 4 Street S.W. is dwarfed by the surrounding high-rises and office towers.

Its founder, Rev. James Robertson, first preached out of a local saloon before Knox Presbyterian Church was built in 1883 in the settlement that the following year would officially become the Town of Calgary. When construction of the railroad moved the city centre from Inglewood to what is now the downtown core, the church moved along with it – literally: the small wooden building was hauled on skids across the frozen Elbow River in 1884.

In 1886, a new church was built on the corner of Centre Street and 7 Avenue South, but it proved too small to keep pace with increasing attendance, and the church as it now stands was built in 1912. This picture was taken when what was dubbed “the Cathedral of the West” was still Knox Presbyterian Church. The congregation voted to join the United Church of Canada in 1925, and Knox United Church has been operating ever since.

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