Petrolia’s Anglican church is bringing history into the light.
Christ Church has existed in the community since 1866. After holding services on the east end and then Railroad Street, the church laid down permanent roots in 1882 on the corner of Henry and Oil Streets. Atop the brick church was a steel Celtic cross, near the bell tower.
In 1957, that five-foot cross plummeted to the ground as the historic church burned. Church member Sylvia Fairbank says at the time, firefighters decided to save the bells pouring all the water on the tower to save them. The sanctuary collapsed into the basement and the cross went with it.
It survived and when the church was rebuilt, it was placed in the boiler room for safekeeping.
That’s where Fairbank found it about a decade ago. “I’ve always wanted it to go outside to be seen,” she says.
Fairbank mentioned the cross to Wayne Strevel – a member of the church’s board of directors. He took the project on.
He enlisted the help of his employee and lifted the cross – which he says is likely several hundred pounds – into the back of a pickup. “For it’s age it was in pretty good shape,” he says.
They brought it to John Duff Ltd. Where staff removed parts of the cross to clean and sandblast it. It was then painted and mounted on a steel base.
Strevel poured some concrete at the church door and planted the original cross there for all to see.
“I’m excited and happy it’s here,” says Fairbank as she stood on the lawn of the church Tuesday adding it will be nice to have the addition for the church’s 150th anniversary next year.
“It’s absolutely beautiful.”