If you’re driving down Alberta 6 from Pincher Creek towards Waterton Lakes National Park, you may be tempted to take a side-trip out to St. Henry’s Church. If you do, you’ll find a picturesque church atop a small hill, with an interesting cemetery and a view of the mountains that may invoke a spiritual experience.
On the previous day, as I drove up to Pincher Creek, I had more fun exploring the backroads than I did at any official attraction. So on this day, I was looking for any excuse to turn off the primary route once again. I saw the sign for St. Henry’s Historic Church, and decided, “Why not?”
St. Henry’s was constructed in the first decade of the 1900’s, as immigrants arrived from Nebraska. Most of them were German, and many of the church’s early services were conducted in German. A sign says the church was established in 1907, but it wasn’t complete at that point. Parishioners were still sitting on boards on nail kegs, instead of pews. The main altar wasn’t put in place until 1917.
The building served as a Catholic church for 94 years. It’s still owned by the Diocese of Calgary, but it’s no longer an active Catholic parish.
Unfortunately, the church was locked, so I couldn’t go inside.
You can walk through this gate (complete with an apparent spelling error of “cemetary”)…
… and into the small cemetery behind the church. It’s a nice place, with a great view of the mountains in the distance.
The only thing that’s not picture-perfect about the church, is the rather ugly home that sits directly behind it. The house is a private residence, and was formerly used as the rectory. I tried to keep it out of all of my pictures, but it isn’t easy.
If you keep going down the road that passes the church, you can wander around the rolling prairie that stretches east from the mountains. This is just one of the old, abandoned homesteads that I found in the area.
I made a wide circle back to Route 505, and in the process, found another great spot to view the church.
The Bottom Line
A drive out to St. Henry’s Church isn’t mandatory for everyday tourists. But, if you’re interested in the history of the area, or you just want to snap some pictures of a quaint little church on top of a hill, it’s an easy detour off of Route 6.
St. Henry’s Historic Catholic Church is located off of Alberta Secondary Route 505. From Pincher Creek, take Route 6 south, and watch for the turn to the left, just after the railroad overpass. Once you’re on 505, go 8.5 kilometers, then turn right onto a dirt road (there is a sign). This dirt road climbs a small hill, taking you to the church.
Check out this time-lapse, dash-cam video of the drive to St. Henry’s Church, and other random places in southern Alberta: