The Anglican Parish of St. Peter, Quamichan has the distinction of being the oldest parish still operating on its original site in the Cowichan Valley. Appropriately standing on a rocky knoll – a site chosen by Bishop George Hills in 1866- it still fits the Bishop’s description of park-like glades of oaks then standing in 98 acres of glebe land.
In January 1866, Rev. W.S. Reece became the first resident clergyman for an area from Mill Bay to Chemainus, including Saltspring Island. Construction of the log church began in late 1866, with the first service March 10, 1867. Ten years later, this small church (45 seats) was demolished and the present ‘Early English style church rose to completion by February 1876, able to seat 100. June 14, 1877 ‘St. Peter’s Quamichan’ was consecrated in front of 200 persons, on a gala day with Bishop Hills and passengers from Victoria arriving on a chartered steamer.
This is the church worshipped in today, plus the 1893 west end addition and a 1930’s addition to the vestry. The church now seats in excess of 150 worshippers. Much later came the north door (funeral door), now used as the main entrance. The original door opening to the south is now primarily used for weddings and November 11th services. The unique 10 ton granite rock, moved down Maple Bay Road by parishioners in 1919, stands outside this door as a Memorial to the many parishioners who were lost in two World Wars.
Although St. Peter’s retains its wood interior, it is not dark. Beautiful stained glass fills only 3 of the 10 windows, allowing the sun to touch us as we worship.
One of this parish’s many glories is its historic cemetery. Sloping from the church to the meadow are graves dating from 1866, covered by a canopy of ancient oaks and fir trees, seasonally carpeted by many species of wild flowers. This peaceful, meditative and spiritual site brings people of all faiths in our community to stroll its paths. This large cemetery is lovingly maintained and a point of pride for parishioners.
The Cemetery Committee maintains a database of graves, does research, plans cemetery tours, commemorates our veterans in the cemetery, sells plots and arranges interments. The immediate future is taken care of by an extension of the meadow burial area, consecrated in 2002 by Bishop Barry Jenks.