Written by Stephen Thompson
Canada West Mission Centre Historian
Vol. 1 | No. 3
In recognition of June being “Hills of Peace Month,” I am going to share how the grounds came into the possession of the church in Alberta. I am drawing on written accounts from two people “who were there:” Ethel Hayden, from Calgary; and Jean Walrath, from Edmonton.
Ethel: The Hills of Peace grounds holds a special place in the hearts of young and old who ever attended a camp there and (have) been surrounded by God’s spirit and the feeling of peace. Renting grounds at Sylvan Lake was not to our liking.
Jean: (At the 1956) District Conference and Reunion held at Sylvan Lake, Alberta, Will McLeod told of a quarter section of land on a lake that could be suitable to build a campground.
Ethel: (It) had a spring-fed lake, lots of trees for shade, and very sandy soil which meant no mud when it rained.
Jean: Six people went immediately to investigate. They were Alvin Walrath, Dave Larmour, Will McLeod, Norman Olson, Vida Diaper and Cecil Diaper. A most favourable report was brought back. The same week on Saturday, a district meeting was held at Sylvan Lake. A vote to buy the land was taken…and passed unanimously. At the same meeting the people voted in favour of Alvin Walrath being put in charge of developing and building the camp. On Sunday a collection was taken and approximately $600.00 was raised.
Ethel: The land was bought in 1956 and work parties soon began. Many weekends and some holidays were spent travelling on muddy roads and later gravel to start developing the grounds.
Steve: And on the story goes up to the present day. Purchase documents from the time indicate the price paid for the land was $856.00. This is an story of rapid decision making. As Ethel suggests, there had been a feeling, probably for some time, that the people wanted a reunion grounds of their own. But still – in a matter of one week, Will McLeod told the District Conference (probably on Sunday) about the land; a party of six people immediately (probably on Monday) set out to go look at; they came back and reported favourably – despite what must have been very difficult road conditions and a much longer trip than it would be today. They had another business meeting on Saturday and approved the purchase! Amazing!
Now – while you’re thinking about it, go to that notice about “June is Hills of Peace Month” elsewhere in the Weekly Wire and make a donation to support the continuing operation and maintenance of this wonderful campground.
Ethel Hayden: “Hills of Peace Camp”, a one-page history published as part of a history of Alberta District, assembled in 2003 when the district was being folded into the Canada West Mission Centre.
Jean Walrath: “History of the Hills of Peace Campground,” unpublished, undated.
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