HISTORIC CHAPEL — The faith community at Our Lady of the Lake chapel hopes to raise some $200,000 to repair the historic structure, which sits above Last Mountain Lake in south central Saskatchewan. (Flegel photo)
Historic chapel to be repaired
By Frank Flegel
SASKATCHEWAN BEACH, Sask. — Our Lady of the Lake RC Chapel sits over a hollowed-out hill just below the valley top above Last Mountain Lake. It is a unique structure that won a 1974 Massey Award, now the Governor General’s Medal in Architecture, for its architect, Clifford Wiens. It is one of only four structures in Saskatchewan to have received this prestigious recognition.
Unfortunately, time has taken its toll on the structure
and the four massive wooden glued support beams have deteriorated to
the point where the roof is in danger of collapse and the chapel cannot
be used. The Archdiocese of Regina, which built and owns the chapel and
the six lots around it, told the faith community last fall that it could
not afford to pay for the repairs, estimated to cost around $200,000,
and the chapel is to be torn down and the property sold. That didn’t
sit well with some of the folks who use the chapel, so they decided to
do something about it.
Arnold Flegel, a retired mechanical engineer, has lived
in Kannata Valley, next to Saskatchewan Beach, since the mid-1990s. He
also served Kannata Valley as councillor and administrator. He and his
family have attended services in the chapel every summer and didn’t
want to see it torn down. He helped form a committee including architects,
the Last Mountain Pastoral Council, the chapel faith community and the
Resort Village of Saskatchewan Beach; Carleen Desautels agreed to chair.
The intent is to raise the $200,000 estimated to put the
chapel back in useable condition. “We can’t call it a restoration,” said
Desautels, “because it’s suggested that the wooden beams
be replaced with steel beams. So we’re calling it conservation.”
The committee made an application to Heritage Canada for inclusion in
the list of the top 10 most threatened and has approached the Saskatchewan
Association of Architects for their support. Clifford Wiens, now living
in Vancouver, is supporting the project by acting as consultant.
The community, with the approval of Archbishop Daniel Bohan, is holding
summer services in the United Church in Silton, about a mile from the
The chapel was originally known as the Silton Chapel and was for the
use of Roman Catholic services, but because of its unique structure and
location several denominations used it for weddings.
The archdiocese has agreed to help the committee by acting as a repository for funds raised and held in trust for the project.