History of Robertson-Wesley

a brief summary

From the Beginning

Union

Robertson Wesley United Church was born through the union of two historic Edmonton churches: Wesley Methodist Church and Robertson Presbyterian Church.

Wesley

Wesley Methodist Church began in the spring of 1907. Services were initially held in a tent and in the fall of that year a wood frame building was erected on 114 Street and 102 Avenue. In 1913 a new brick building designed by Edmonton architect G.H. MacDonald, was opened on 117 Street and 102 Avenue. Wesley church provided a spiritual presence in the community for almost sixty years, but with declining membership and changing population of the Oliver area the congregation amalgamated with Robertson United Church in 1971. The building was sold and the proceeds were placed in the Wesley Trust Fund, which supports community development projects.

Robertson

Robertson Presbyterian Church was founded in 1909 and was named in memory of James Robertson, Superintendent of Missions of the Presbyterian Church in western Canada from 1881 to 1887. The first wood framed building located on 116 Street and Jasper Avenue was replaced by the current building on 123 Street and 102 Avenue in 1913. The architectural style of the exterior is an adaptation of the High Victorian Gothic Revival. The plans for the building were bought from First Baptist Church in Calgary. The interior features curved pews and balconies with quarter- sawn oak used for the interior woodwork. The 30-meter steeple was a landmark for many years but is now partially obscured by high-rises. In the early 1950’s, the Memorial Chapel and Hall were built, adding much needed space for Sunday School, offices and meeting rooms.

Windows

The church has an eclectic display of stained glass windows. Five makers are represented: W. O'Neil (original windows located in east and west balconies), Y. Williams & E. Johnson (narthex), Frans Mayer & Minchin (main floor), R. McCausland (chapel) and Winter Art Glass (interior narthex).

Organ

The present 36 stop Gabriel Kney organ was installed in 1979. As a tracker organ, the action is totally mechanical, lever action connected directly to the individual keys, only the blower and console light are electrified.

Historic Site

The church was declared an Edmonton heritage building in 1989 and became a Historic Site in 2004.

It is a stunning example of pre World War I architecture of which few remain in this city.

Heritage Site

The City of Edmonton has designated the Robertson-Wesley site -- originally Robertson Presbyterian -- as an Historic Site, recognizing it as one of the distinctive pieces of architecture in the city. The related article on the city web site is interesting to read.