McDougall's Storied History
Our Early History
1st church - Circa 1872
McDougall is the original and oldest Protestant congregation in Alberta.
The church was named after an early Methodist missionary by the name of Rev. George McDougall (1821-1876) who arrived in Edmonton with his wife Elizabeth Chantler in 1871.
Construction of the first church was completed in 1873.
|2nd church with McDougall Manse in foreground - Circa 1892
A second church built in 1892 helped to accommodate the growing congregation.
The current sanctuary was built in 1910 and seated 2,000 people. That was when Edmonton had a population of 20,000 and the church was the crossroads of the community.
After 1925 the congregation was merged with three other denominations, Presbyterian, Congregational and Methodist to form the United Church of Canada.
|1st church building on 1885 street in Fort Edmonton Park
The old wooden 1873 church building was moved to Fort Edmonton Park in 1977 where it now serves as a museum on 1885 Street.
Annie Jackson becomes Edmonton’s first female police officer and the first female constable in Canada in 1912
It has been 100 years since Miss Annie Jackson arrived for her first day of work as a special constable with the Edmonton police department on October 1, 1912.
The Ontario-born Jackson came to Lacombe to visit her sister in 1909 and moved to Edmonton the following year to work for the Children’s Aid Society and the Ruthenian Home for Girls, which assisted immigrant women in finding work and learning English.
Police became concerned because pimps were hanging around the city’s railway station, recruiting naïve young farm girls and immigrants who came to the capital seeking work. R. B. Chadwick, who was in charge of hiring for the police department, received 47 applications for the position of protecting the morals of young women and girls. Chadwick declared she was “well qualified for the work, for she has had experience in the same class of work for the Methodist church.” Jackson’s hiring was big news, appearing in a British newspaper with a headline that read: “Police Woman Appointed to Guard Canadian Flappers.”
Annie Jackson started with the police department on October 1, 1912, earning a monthly salary of $75. The 33 year-old wore an ankle-length skirt and a large, prim hat on the job, and was tasked with protecting “the morals of Edmonton’s young girls,” warding off the pimps who were hanging out at city train stations, prowling for young women.
She kept the flappers on the right side of the law until 1918, when she married William Henry Kelcher and was forced to quit her job. They were members of McDougall Church (then Methodist). In 1919, she gave birth to their son, Henry Murray Kelcher, who was active at McDougall church as treasurer and trustee until his passing in 2001.
Annie – by then known as Annie Kelcher – died near her home on October 30, 1959 when a speeding car skidded 30 metres on 103 Street, hit her, tossing her 25 metres. She was 80 years of age.
Between 1976 and 2002, the Edmonton neighbourhood of Jackson Heights, a nearby road, a park and a school were named in her honour.
The spirit for this congregation was set by it’s founder, Rev. George McDougall, and it has been an historic cornerstone in this city for over 100 years.
Culture, politics and community service were all part of our intentional, innovative beginnings. In the early and mid 19th century, the Christian values of the Church became the values of Canada and of Edmontonians.
For over 100 years, the current building (1910) has served as a pillar and the crossroads of the community. It cost about $70,000 to build. But McDougall Church is more than the sum of its parts. It is history...
- McDougall and the Methodist Church first employed Annie Jackson as a social worker and went on to become the first female police constable in the British Empire.
- World War I saw the Ladies Aid send thousands of packages to soldiers overseas and sewed thousands of garments for the city’s poor.
- During World War II, McDougall served as a social hub for many of the visiting servicemen in the city.
- We housed a Red Cross plasma-collection centre.
- McDougall was the first home of the predecessor of the Edmonton Symphony.
- It was the original home of the Edmonton Opera.
- We were home to music festivals.
- McDougall was the first home of the Salvation Army.
- It was the site of suffragette rallies in the 1900s and served as a union hall.
- We were the site of the University of Alberta Convocations.
Today, McDougall United Church continues its proud tradition of community outreach and social justice, and is a spiritual home for a diverse congregation. As well, we continue to open our doors to the wider community in partnership with this great city and its people.