Doing Research… and lovin’ it!

History was never my strong subject in school and I’d be embarrassed if you asked me how many history books are on my ‘recently read’ book list. If it’s a story about pioneering in the Yukon or northern BC, I’ve probably read it, but other places don’t usually interest me unless I’ve travelled there and have some personal time invested in the locale. I know, I know… I’m missing a lot.

So last fall I surprised myself by agreeing when I was asked if I would become our church’s historian. It’s not meant to be a big job — a history was compiled seventeen years ago, so the groundwork has been done — but there were no photographs included in it. The request is “to document the many events, milestones and accomplishments … in our ministry to each other and to the community around us,” and to do that, photographs are imperative.

St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Haney, BC
St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church and Manse – Haney, BC (circa 1907-1910) *

People have been contributing, I’ve been scrounging, scanning and sifting through everything I’ve collected. And I’m loving it! Who knew dry old church history could be so fascinating?

Those of you who write historical fiction, with all the research it entails, have probably known this all along.

What do you enjoy most (or least) about researching material for your writing?


* Photo  via Maple Ridge Historical Society archives

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Published by Carol

A freelance writer of fiction and non-fiction living on the West Coast of Canada.

15 thoughts on “Doing Research… and lovin’ it!

  1. I grew up in Haney, Carol! But I don’t remember the church. Was it on 3rd Avenue or what is now called Laity? I think what you’re doing is fascinating. I’m currently researching the UK and it makes yearn to be there in person. I like research. I find the most difficult aspect of it to be keeping notes I can read afterwards. I think as long as you keep yourself excited about what you’re doing, the rest should get easier. I think. Haha.

      1. The spelling *is* Laity, Joylene. There have been three Presbyterian churches in Maple Ridge / Haney… the original one pictured here became a part of the United Church in Canada during the 1925 union. It is still in its original location at 22279 – 116 Avenue. It was designated as a heritage site several years ago.

      2. No wonder I don’t remember it. I lived at the opposite end of town in Hammond. Great pictures, Carol.

  2. Oh how I love history! I could spend hours learning about the past, dreaming about what it must have been like to live so long ago, and exploring old photos. Which is probably why I write historicals 🙂

    Great post!

    Christi Corbett

    1. Thanks, Christi. I don’t write historicals, but I’ve certainly been enjoying my exploration of all the old photos and historical information related to this project.

  3. What a wonderful project Carol. I am sure you will enjoy every minute. I love history and exploring old buildings, pictures etc. The St. Stephens United Church in East Delta is 120 years old and has some great history as well. I’m sure some story ideas will come from this.

    1. I always have to smile a bit when I hear of a United Church that’s said to be older than 87 years, since the United Church didn’t come into existence until 1925. But I know what you mean — the building and so many of its people came through the church union and continued their history, just as a different denomination. That was the case with the church pictured above, too. It was only Presbyterian from when it was built in 1888 until 1925, but that early history formed a significant part of our current congregation’s roots.

      1. You are so right. St. Stephens I believe, was a Congregational Church unitl 1925. It is the building that we are talking about and many of the same farm families.

      2. I should have done my research first Carol. I was incorrect. Here is what I found: “Originally a Presbyterian denomination, it was a place of worship and community for the McKee, Kittson, Honeyman, Robertson, Smillie, Dennis and Huff families, thus serving as a valuable legacy of Delta’s pioneering origins and earliest settlement” This was from Historic Places in Canada.

      3. Thanks for following up and discovering the background behind St. Stephens. There is so much fascinating historical information available!

  4. Had a great History teacher in High School, and enjoy it to this day. Especially enjoy reading about “ghost” towns and would love to travel around Wash/state and western states to visit them. Actually have a “novel” idea for one. 🙂

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