Fairview Baptist Church’s Early Years

The first purpose-built home of Fairview Baptist (image taken after Fairview church had moved to other quarters and the space was taken over by a commercial enterprise (note stained glass windows were retained). n.d. (my estimate ca. 1914). First Baptist Church archival collection. (Positive made from negative in archives).

The first purpose-built home of Fairview Baptist. Image taken after Fairview church had moved to Fifth Ave. & Arbutus and the space was taken over by a commercial enterprise. Positive made from the negative using digital software. n.d. (ca. 1910-14). First Baptist Church archival collection.

Fairview Baptist Church, according to First Baptist Church’s first historian W. M. Carmichael, had its beginnings as a regional Sunday School. The school was an extension of First Baptist, launched at a January 1902 prayer meeting. Mr. and Mrs. Edward Peck were then living at the corner of Maple Street and West 3rd Avenue (2001 W. 3rd), where they ran a small grocery. The Pecks had “an unused room” at their home which was offered to the Sunday School. The School met at the Pecks’ for two years. (Note: This Mrs. Peck was not Mary Peck, a charter member of FBC, although she may have been related by marriage to Mary and Elias James Peck).

In 1904, the School moved into its first building at 2008-4th Avenue (near Maple). The building is shown in the image above (with a post-church commercial appendage, probably added between 1910-14). According to Carmichael, this church structure was built for $500. However, a check of the Vancouver Heritage Building Permits shows the cost to have been a bit higher: $1000. The architect/builder was R. E. Scarlett.

On August 23, 1905, the First Baptist members involved in the regional Sunday School “received their letters” from the denomination to organize as a separate church. The church was named Fairview Baptist Church. Rev. Peter H. McEwan was the first pastor. (Before accepting the pastorate at Fairview, McEwan had been the pastor at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Victoria. While there, he served as the construction supervisor for their church building; Thomas Hooper was the architect. The sanctuary was erected for about $8000 in 1892. Remarkably, it still stands as Victoria’s Belfry Theatre.)

By 1909, remarks Carmichael, “because of the laying of the street car tracks along Fourth Avenue”, (due to concerns for the safety of youngsters attending the school and crossing 4th Ave?) they sold this property and raised a new structure at the corner of 5th Avenue and Arbutus Street. This building was designed and built by Samuel Buttrey Birds for an estimated $5,500 (he also built the nearby Fairview Methodist Church at 6th and Fir and Chalmers Presbyterian Church at Hemlock and 12th).

With the move to Arbutus, there ensued an institutional identity crisis. The church’s name was first changed to “Fifth Avenue Baptist Church” and in 1913 it was changed again to “Kitsilano Baptist Church”. In March, 1922, following a tumultuous period for Kits Church and for the denomination generally (there was at least one significant split of the congregation at Kits), the church amalgamated with Central Baptist to form Fairview Baptist Church.¹ The building which houses Fairview today stands at 1708 W 16th Ave (near Pine).

Principal Sources:


¹Central Baptist Church (1908-22) stood on Laurel Street between 10th and Broadway. It was sold in 1922, after which it was used as one of UBC’s ‘Hottentot huts’ during the remaining years that UBC occupied the Fairview campus. Prof. Frederick Wood, in an oral history project of UBC (starting at the 9 minute mark), described Central as being a single-storey wooden structure. UBC later attached a second storey to the building. (Note: Prof. Wood mistakenly identified the church as being “First Baptist Church”; it was Central Baptist.)

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