In 1883, when the first All Saints' church went up on Broadway, the wood-frame structure stood almost alone on the bald prairie.
The waters of Colony Creek that once flowed nearby soon dried up and in 1926 the church was demolished and rebuilt on an adjoining site so Osborne Street could extend through its property.
One hundred twenty-eight years later, a narrow stone path off the corner of Colony and Broadway leads to an old garden door, tucked away in the corner of an 85-year-old English Gothic-style building in the middle of what is now a modern, bustling city.
It is beyond the garden door that the real story begins, for it is here that the history of the present All Saints' Anglican Church may be seen, rich in tradition, character, faith and beauty.
"It's inspiring," says Mary Galloway, people's warden of All Saints'.
"People are always amazed when they come in here."
"This church is so steeped in history," adds rector's warden Barb Hicks. "Each piece of art is a religious tribute to God, His servants and the saints."
Along both walls of the long, rectangular nave sits what the church believes is one of the largest collections of William Morris stained-glass windows in North America.
The majority of the church's stained-glass windows are the work of three English firms -- Morris and Co., Lowndes and Drury and J. Wippell and Co.
Entering by the main door, the visitor sees four windows depicting Moses, Elijah, Abraham and Isaiah from the Old Testament. Above the west door in the nave is the Commissioning of Joshua by Moses. All point to Christianity's Judaic roots.
The William Morris windows along the walls of the nave vividly and colourfully tell the story of the life of Christ. Designed in sets of three, they were installed between 1926 and 1950.
According to Pat Bovey, a parish member who is also an art historian and a former director of the Winnipeg Art Gallery, "William Morris windows are very renowned internationally and very much tied into the pre-Raphaelite artists of the late 19th century."
Morris was, she adds, "a founder of the arts and crafts movement."
He was also a prolific artist who not only produced textiles, furniture and stained glass, he wrote poetry, fiction and produced translations. His medieval-inspired work had a major influence on church decoration well into the 20th century.
"The windows are very significant," says Bovey, because "the powers that be really went out on a limb to incorporate contemporary art into the building at that time."
Scenes from Christ's life can be seen here in large windows filled with bold, rich hues of red, green and blue.
Above these windows are smaller ones, also in sets of three. The 12 apostles can be seen in the central windows, with saints of the church on either side.
High up above the altar are three brilliant windows that were originally installed in the first church in the late 1800s. The Nativity window and an Ascension window were designed by J. Wippell and Co.
All the windows in All Saints' are memorial windows, many given in memory of fallen soldiers and other loved ones. One much more recent window occupies much of one wall in the sacristy and was installed in memory of Anne Marriott, a member of All Saints' who died in 1994.
Designed by European Art Glass in Winnipeg, the striking window depicts women of the Old Testament surrounded by the symbols of the 12 tribes of Israel.
"I commissioned the window in memory of my wife," says Bert Wold, who was married to Marriot in 1974.
"My wife was a strong advocate of feminine independence. It stood for a lot of things. My wife was Anglican, I'm Jewish -- we shared both (faiths) with each other. It is titled The Matriarchs. That's who these women are."
When asked what the significance of all the windows and art is, Galloway does not hesitate. "To the Glory of God," she says.
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sent nov 15-16 2011 with art
All Saints' is known for its music as well as its windows. Its 59th annual Advent Procession with Carols is on Nov. 27 at 4:30 p.m. Its Charpentier Christmas Eve service is at 11 p.m.
The church has adapted to the times and is now home to three parishes, All Saints' Anglican, St. Benedict's Table and St. Andrews Anglican mission (Sudanese Community Church). It is also home to Agape Table.
The Lady Chapel contains windows portraying the Madonna and female saints, the original altar from the first church and many other historical artifacts, prints and paintings.
Tours can be arranged by phoning 786-4765. For more information see its website: allsaints.mb.ca