STAINED GLASS WINDOWS IN KNOX UNITED CHURCH
In the fall of 2001, the Rev. Wallace (Wally) Hargrave came to Terrace as the minister for Knox United Church. He brought a sense of deep spirituality. Like most Churches, Knox was struggling to manage its finances and maintain the physical facility. Wally felt that beauty was closely linked to spirituality and, if we looked after our spiritual health, the temporal things of the Church would follow. One day, from the pulpit, he asked if anyone would be interested in installing an in memoriam stained glass window in the Church.
Rosie Cruickshank, whose husband had died a number of years previously, had been waiting for just such an opportunity to have a stained glass window installed in George’s memory.
With some research, I was able to contact Claude Rioux, who has had a lot of experience working with stained glass. He received his training in Montreal, where he learned the art of Stained Glass as a hobby. Prior to moving to Terrace, he had re-worked a large window in a Montreal Cathedral. Subsequently to moving to Terrace, in addition to his job as a surveyor, he continued to work in his basement workshop at his hobby of stained glass. At the time that I contacted him, he was already in the process of making and installing stained glass windows in the United Church in Kitimaat Village. These were in First Nations Motif, with salmon, eagle and other artistic forms.
He designed the first window for Rosie: a dove, overlaying a beautiful golden cross. Rosie and the rest of the congregation were thrilled with the result of Rosie’s donation of the first stained glass window started a trend.
The second window was purchased by the United Church Women to honour the women of the Church. It goes back to the start of the Terrace branch of the Womens’ Missionary Society (WMS) in 1913. Later the group evolved into the United Church Women (UCW). This window consists of “praying hands” and, at the bottom, a hand shake with an adult and a child signifying the multi-generational interest of the women.
The third window was designed to honour the music of the Church, as music is a very important part of Knox. With beautiful gold colours, it consists of a pipe organ, a silhouette of choir members and an open hymn book.
The fourth window was funded by Marion Clift in memory of her late husband, Ev. Clift, who had been a long time Terrace resident. He had been on Town Council and had started and operated a high quality Mens’ clothing store, Ev’s Mens’ Wear. In retirement, he had spent a lot of time in his boat on Lakelse Lake, fishing. Therefore, the theme had to be fishing so the window consists of disciples in a boat hauling in fish in a net, with an over-arching rainbow.
The fifth window was funded by the Sparks family in memory of Joan Sparks, who was a long time member of Knox United and a staunch supporter of the UCW. She loved morning glories and humming birds so the window was made with pictures of flowering vines and humming birds and with a lit candle to express the light of Christ.
The sixth window was purchased by community members, headed by Charlie Meek in memory of Vesta Douglas. Vesta was a long time, much loved teacher in Terrace. Long after her retirement, children still loved to visit her home especially at Halloween, which she made very special. She supported many community organizations and quietly supported a variety of endeavours in Knox United, especially in the music ministry. She was a Freeman of the City of Terrace. She loved red roses, thus the prominent red rose in the window. The wheat represents the transition between death and new life.
The seventh window was installed by Marianna Ferretti in memory of her late husband, Arnold. It may have been prophetic, because she wanted room on the plaque to include her name as well and, in fact, she did die about one year later. They had come from Nova Scotia so the motif is an image of Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse. The cross, the dove and the over arching rainbow complete the Christian symbolism for this window.
The eighth and ninth windows were placed on either side of the entrance to the sanctuary by the Strangway family in memory of Tia Azak. Tia had a large number of physical disabilities and was part of the Strangway family until her death at age 21. Despite her disabilities, she was a “ray of sunshine”. Close contact had been kept through her life with her natural parents: Russell and Margaret and, through Margaret, she was a member of the Killer Whale Clan. One window represents Jesus with a child, embodying Jesus’ love of children. The other is of a Killer Whale, embodying her First Nations Culture and surrounded by hearts, indicative of her loving nature.
The tenth window was placed by Mags Gingles in memory of her late husband, “Junior”. He had loved many of the outdoors activities, and these are depicted in the window. The shamrocks represent his Irish origin and, with their three leaves represent the Trinity. God’s hands embrace the world and the eagle, although a wonderful regional symbol is also scriptural: “On Eagle’s Wings”. This window truly represents the wonderful world that God created.
The eleventh window was commissioned by the Lennan Family in memory of Ron Lennan. Ron had been an integral part of the Church, right from the time when the old Church was moved from Lakelse Avenue to its present location. The old Church is the present Church Hall. He also was very involved with building the present Sanctuary. He made all of the original windows. For all of his life time in Terrace, he looked after the Church maintenance and was involved with all of the Church activities. He was so helpful to the UCW, particularly with their Christmas bazaar, that he was made an honorary member. Since Ron was a carpenter, as was Joseph, this window depicts Jesus as a boy, using a plane on a a piece of wood. The boy is under a shade tree in front of a Palestinian carpenter shop.
The twelfth window was installed by the Strangway family in memory of Jean Strangway. Jean had been a doctor in Terrace for many years and was a very active member Knox, involved with worship, UCW and the choir. Appropriately, her window was installed behind the choir loft and consists of the sun’s rays shining on a flying dove over a lake, with mountains in the back ground a view similar to that seen from the Strangway cabin at Lakelse Lake.
The thirteenth window was installed by Marion Clift’s Family in conjunction with the Terrace Historical Society. It was in memory of Marion, who was pre-deceased by her husband Ev. Her daughter, Sally Smaha, was instrumental in finalizing the design. Marion lived well into her nineties. She was very community minded, involved in many Terrace organizations. She was an active member of Knox and a senior member of the Guild. Despite her age, she had a continuing interest in young people and was the first to donate towards a basketball net for the Church Youth Group. Her window shows a Shepherd looking towards Golgotha with the three crosses. The gentian, which was her favourite flower, is included and an Angel is caught in the sun’s rays, truly depicting Marion’s Spiritual gifts.
The fourteenth window is in process of being designed. This one will be donated by Carol Julseth to honour the pioneers who settled and opened up the West and the Terrace area. It depicts wheat, which represents new life, a scythe, which represents the back breaking work the early settlers engaged in and a Church, which nurtured the faith that gave them the purpose and strength that they needed to open up the country and to leave a legacy for us today.
We were extremely fortunate to find and artisan as skilled as Claude. We fed him the ideas and, with his extraordinary insight and artistic talent, he was able to bring the themes alive, working in the basement workshop of his Jackpine Flats log home, which he had built himself. His home was built with the same loving attention that he gives to his art work. His house is replete with works of art in glass and with his works in progress. He has become well known in the Northwest, has made a number of windows for Churches in the Nass Valley and has had commissions as far away as Alberta.
So from Wally’s dream and Rosie’s wish to honour her late husband, has been a legacy born. The sanctuary has been enhanced as a beautiful, worshipful space, which is appreciated, not only by the Congregation Members, but also by those who come to enjoy various music events in the facility.