The town of Bracebridge has moved one step closer to acquiring historic St Stephen’s church in Vankoughnet.
During the most recent Bracebridge general committee meeting, councillors requested staff look into the feasibility of acquiring the Anglican Church. Staff have also been asked to look into possible future uses for the building.
The committee voted to unanimously to pursue the acquisition, with Mayor Rick Maloney pointing out that the building was one of the oldest structures in the region.
“There’s been a great response from the community and we don’t just want to put a padlock on it when we take it over,” said Maloney. “This moves us on to the next stage and allows us to look at possible acquisition.”
In June 2022 the Anglican Church decided that given the declining number of active congregation and the lack of income caused by the pandemic closures St. Stephen’s would cease to function as an Anglican Church.
According to a history of the church compiled by Jennifer Milne:
‘On January 12, 1891 at 10:30 am St. Stephen’s Anglican Church was consecrated by Bishop Sullivan who said; ‘It is commodious and beautiful. I am astonished at what has been done in so short a time and at so small cost’.”
In August 2023 a group called the Friends of St. Stephen’s was formed with the goal of saving the church building and maintaining it as an active part of the community.
“A place where we can continue to gather for various occasions and celebrate our long history as a community,“ said the group in a statement. “The building will be available for numerous rental opportunities including but not limited to art shows, study groups, music nights, weddings and baptisms, makers markets, and nondenominational services. There has already been substantial interest from the community for this.”
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