First Baptist Church’s Iron Fence/Notice Board Memorials

Dominion Construction drawings of Iron Fence/Notice Board Memorials. First Baptist Church Archives. Who the draftsman was (V.E.W.) is unknown to me. But the person who was the drawing checker, C.B., was almost certainly FBC Deacon and Dominion Construction Chief Executive, Charles Bentall. (Note: In the drawing, the notice board appears to be situated squarely (at 90 degrees) with the sanctuary wall. In fact, it was placed roughly at 45 degrees across the lawn).

Judging from what I’ve heard and what appears to be the ‘vision’ of the current First Baptist Church building project, upon its completion, there will no longer be an iron fence surrounding the garden near the tower entry. That is, to me at least, a bit of a pity — not only for the loss of the fence itself, but for what it (and the already-gone notice board) represented.

It may come as a surprise to many of today’s FBC members and adherents to learn that the iron fence was donated in 1952 by the Selman family as a memorial to three generations of Selmans in Vancouver, and the notice board in memory of Flying Officer Robert Gilroy (“Bob”) Selman, an FBC member who died in WWII. If you weren’t around the church in 1952, these are the sorts of facts that easily slip away. There is no plaque (correctly, in my view) on the fence, nor was anything affixed to the notice board, as far as I know, that identified these items as donations of the Selmans.

Excerpt from 1952 FBC Board of Management Minutes. First Baptist Church Archives.

For those who are regular readers of VAIW, the Selman name may ring a bell: the story of the drowning death of young Elva Selman at Second Beach in 1908. How was Elva related to these Selmans? She would have been, had she lived, a great-aunt of Gordon Rex Selman (one of the donors).

The wooden notice board, three or four years ago (after serving some 60 years), had decayed to the point where it could no longer function and had to be destroyed. It was replaced with the — patently unsuitable — digital monstrosity which, today, squats across the garden lawn behind the iron fence.

Part of the Iron Fence Memorial and the Notice Board Memorial in the FBC Centennial Garden. From Our First Century: 1887-1987, by Leslie J. Cummings, p.78.
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1 Response to First Baptist Church’s Iron Fence/Notice Board Memorials

  1. Bobby says:

    I concur with the writer. History if not retained gives no leadership to the future.

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