The 125th anniversary of the founding of the Catholic parish in Kamloops spans the history of the city, and shortly after the Canadian Pacific Railway was completed across the country. But a few small clarifications to Mike Youds’ article (Oldest Catholic Parish Celebrates 125 Years, The Daily News, Dec. 6) are in order as background to this historic anniversary.
The Oblates of Mary Immaculate were not the first to introduce Catholicism to the region. In 1842, Father Modeste Demers, a priest from Quebec accompanying the fur traders annual brigade to New Caledonia, baptized a number of children at Fort Kamloops. Following Demers, the European Jesuits entered the region.
Jesuit Father John Nobili visited Kamloops briefly in 1845 and 1846 and established a chapel, the original St. Joseph’s church on the Tk’emlúps Indian Reserve.
The Oblates came to the Kamloops area after 1860 with Father Pandosy as director of missions to the Interior Salish peoples. The St. Louis Mission and St. Ann’s Convent at Mission Flats, intended to serve the white settler population, were not established until 1878 by Oblate Father Charles Grandidier.
In 1883, Father Jean Marie Le Jeune arrived in the area and took over the mission but it was soon abandoned because of its location. Two miles to the east, Kamloops was growing with the arrival of the CPR. In 1887, the original Sacred Heart Church was built at the corner of Second Avenue and Battle Street. Le Jeune presided there until he was placed in charge of ministering to the First Nations of the region from St. Joseph’s on the reserve.
Congratulations to the Kamloops Catholic parish for reaching this year’s historic milestone!
Executive Director/Curator, Osoyoos & District Museum and Archives