Saskatchewan resident trying to save grandfather’s former Cupar church building

Photo from Andrea Lawrence. Movers help relocate the former St. Mary's Anglican Church in Cupar to its current location in 2012.

Jennifer Argue, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Last Mountain Times

Andrea Lawrence is asking for help and raising money to save the church.

In 2012, she moved the church from Cupar to where it now sits. It was once her grandfather Reverend William H. Tingey’s first parish, St. Mary’s Anglican Church. Lawrence paid to have it moved to a temporary location beside her home in the valley.

She intended for its location only to be temporary. Still, after a series of financial setbacks, she was left unable to afford the cost to move it 20 feet over onto a foundation she is about to have completed.

Now, the church isn’t in great shape. There is a tarp covering part of the roof; the remainder of the steeple was removed recently because it had become detached from the main building, and it had become a safety hazard.

Lawrence says she had finally found a contractor in September who would pour the foundation on the same day that she received a letter from the building inspector that the permit had been cancelled as it had expired. The notice of cancellation cites the initial plan review was approved in 2012 and that no construction had been started for the basement development.

The notice says that Lawrence has six months to apply for a new permit or to remove the structure. She took steps to remedy the situation, and the RM has told her she has the permit and can go ahead. She has everything in place for the foundation construction and expects the concrete to be poured within the week to the tune of around $24,000.

But now she says she is tapped out. She is very worried about how, after the foundation is in place, she will afford to get the building moved 20 feet onto the foundation fast enough so that the foundation doesn’t become compromised because of the weather.

She has inquired how much it will cost her to move it over and says she is having trouble getting movers to respond, and one ballpark quote she has is for $10,000. Prices have gone up since she first had it moved in 2012. From Cupar to its location, it was $18,000, and Lawrence laughs in disbelief as it’s hard to wrap her head around the cost.

“It was 18 thousand to move it from Cupar, like come one. And it’s already up. All you have to do is slide it over. It’s not a big deal.”

She was told it costs money to move the equipment to the location.

Lawrence’s friend set up a GoFundMe to help raise money to save the church. There has been $2,090 raised out of the $25,000 goal, with that money raised so far going towards the steeple and roof tarping work. Aside from donations, Lawrence has been offering photo shoots, selling her art, and selling a book she had printed on a compilation of letters from her other grandfather, First Officer Vernon Lawrence, who was a pilot in the Second World War and subsequent prison of war.

Lawrence gets emotional when talking about the permits, costs and inspections of having the church moved. “The only thing I have to keep saying is that I was trying to do things legally and trying to be safe with it.”

If Lawrence can’t come up with the money to move the church and it has to be torn down, she said it would be “heartbreaking. I’ve put $40,000 into it and fought..I’d have a very low heated crawlspace to store shit in.”