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Minoru Chapel was Richmond’s first church

By Don Fennell

Published 2:24 PDT, Fri October 1, 2021

Nestled amidst a peaceful setting near the western side of Minoru Park sits a small, white wooden chapel seemingly impervious to time.

Richmond’s first church was originally constructed at the corner of River and Cambie roads in 1891 from a plan supplied by the Methodists during a period of church extension. The building was placed there, near the Fraser River, so that it could be easily reached by boat as Richmond—still very much in its infancy—had few roads.

Later a United Church, the building was moved, largely intact, to the park in 1967 and is a city-designated heritage resource.

The L-shaped structure features a corner entry tower and features what is believed to be the original cedar shingle roof. The windows are triangular pointed arches featuring elaborately designed coloured leaded glass.

The church, which seats 120 people, is also wheelchair accessible and hosts as many as eight weddings a day during the summer months, which are booked through the Chapel at Minoru Park at 604-687-7068. It is also available for spiritual services such as memorials, quiet prayer time and baptisms, as well as movie filming.

To the east of the church is the beautiful Pierrefonds Garden, designated as a provincial heritage site in 1979. It serves as a reminder of Richmond’s sister city twinning with the Quebec community which in 2002 became a borough of Montreal. Pierrefonds has a current population of about 65,000 residents.

A small, rectangular and formal sunken garden, it is accessible by an elaborate pathway that winds through Minoru Park. Designed by the city, the garden is also associated with the 1967 Canadian centennial to fit as an adjunct to Minoru Chapel.

The garden features French classical gardens and adheres to the original design intent of Desmond Muirhead, the landscape architectural firm that originally designed the park. Vegetation includes clipped shrubbery, an L-shaped rose garden at the outside of each corner, and a lawn area with a star-shaped planting bed in each quadrant.

Richmond and Pierrefonds became sister cities on July 29, 1967 by pledging to promote cultural, tourism, social and economic exchanges between residents. In 2008, Richmond hosted two students from Pierrefonds at the Zenith Global Citizenship Conference held for young leaders.

Richmond also has sister city relationships with Wakayama, Japan and Xiamen, China. The former twinning was established in 1973, although the history between the Japanese village and our city dates back to the 19th century. The twinning with Xiamen was established in April 2008.

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