By Jamie Rieger
Driving down the Etzikom highway, one could see from a distance the ornate wrought-iron cross that marked St. Anthony’s Church. While the church has been locked since the 1990s, the cross remained atop its roof until recently when thieves stole it.
According the Bow Island RCMP, the cross was stolen sometime between July 1 and Aug. 12 of this year.
According to the property owner, who asked not be named, the theft was a blow.
“It hit me hard, because of the cross’s history,” she said, adding she had future plans for the cross.
St. Anthony’s Church has a rich history in the Granlea araa. It was first built in the Granlea area by English and Russian-German Catholic homesteaders in 1911 and was formally given its name several years later. The church initially accommodated more than 40 Catholic families, who maintained it and over the years, included a church hall, electrical lights, and a propane heater.
The congregation started dwindling in the 1970s and by 1980, only had 21 families. When the church closed in 1991, workers were removing the cross when they discovered a hidden time capsule that was dated Aug. 10, 1915. Inside, was the name of the St. Anthony’s priest at the time, Fr. Reibel, as well as the names of the parisioners who erected the cross.
The cross was eventually moved to the church’s adjoining cemetery, but at some point over the past two decades was placed back on top of the church, as a June, 2014 photo clearly shows it being displayed from the rooftop, a lasting tribute to the St. Anthony’s pioneers.
Anybody with information regarding this crime is asked to contact the Bow Island RCMP at 403-545-2784 or Crimestoppers at 1-888-222-TIPS.