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Whale Cove tears down community’s first church

Whale Cove lost a part of its history last week as the community’s first ever church was demolished.

It had been at least a decade since the building had been used after it fell into disrepair.

“It was one of the last original buildings in the community,” said Susie Kritterdlik, one of the church’s lay readers.

The first Anglican Church in Whale Cove was demolished last week after it fell into disrepair.
Cody Punter/NNSL photo

The Anglican Church was originally located at Tavani in the 1950s, but when the community of Whale Cove began to take shape, it was disassembled and moved to the community by dog team.

The late Reverend Armand Tagoona, lay leader Moses Aliyak, and other community members helped to put it up as a church and resident parish in the early 1960s.

Hamlet councillor Lewis Voisey, who is one of the community’s founding members, was baptised in the church at Tavani before it was relocated.

He remembers the church getting stuck when his father-in-law, John Towtongie, was helping to pull it.

“I was up there when they got it stuck in Tavani,” he said “In those days if we could do something we had to finish it. Nothing ever seemed to get stuck. They must have been pretty strong. Today if you get something stuck they just leave it there I suppose.”

The Anglican diocese made the decision to tear down the church years ago. However, it wasn’t until last week that the hamlet decided to finally demolish it.

“We’ve tried to take it down for a few years now,” said Voisey. “It was just going to be an eyesore if it stayed any longer.”

The Anglican bishop for Nunavut previously visited the community to bless the old church because it was closing down, said Kritterdlik.

Because of Covid-19, the bishop was unable to travel to Whale Cove for the demolition.

“It was sitting there for a long time. We were just waiting for it to be demolished,” said Kritterdlik. “Nothing else could happen. We couldn’t keep that building. It wasn’t healthy for the community.”

As a young woman growing up in the community, Kritterdlik became involved with the Anglican Church, in most part because her husband was a member. Kritterdlik said she had many fond memories spent in the church.

“My parents were churchgoers and they went every time there was a service. I remember a lot of weddings and baptisms for babies,” she said. “It was a really important place for me.”

She was not in town for the demolition but watched a live stream of it online from Rankin Inlet.

“I watched it and it was emotional for me. I was just envisioning who used to be there and everything that happened before. I wasn’t sad it was just memories coming back to me.”

Voisey said he was out fishing at his cabin when the church was torn down.

“When I came home from fishing I went down to the dock. I never even noticed it was gone. And then I went back and I realized there’s something missing here.”

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