The divided highway which straddles this tiny country church is the only hint that a metropolitan area of more than 700,000 people lies just thirty minutes to the north. Otherwise, this serene spot on the prairie is a place out of time, a remote spot on the table-flat plains that were once the bottom of glacial Lake Agassiz.
This church, however, is the last structure from what was once its own metropolitan area. Union Point United Church is all that remains of a Manitoba ghost town once known as Union Point.
Union Point once had a post office, a school, a general store, and a town hall. It was founded and named due to its location, which was a junction of several modes of transportation–steamboats on the Red River, steam trains, and stage coaches from The Red River Trail all used Union Point as a stopping point for provisions.
The original church that was built here in those pioneer days was destroyed in a fire in 1939, but Union Point United was rebuilt in 1940.
The Red River Trail eventually became a single, two-lane blacktop we know today as Highway 75, once part of the Meridian Highway. In 1988, Highway 75 became a divided highway when the southbound lanes were added, leaving Union Point Church in the median, with highway traffic speeding by on both sides.
They stopped holding services in this church in 1960, and it was almost torn down in 2005, but two area families bought the property for $1 and have since volunteered their time as caretakers.
Bill Redekop wrote about this place for the Winnipeg Free Press in 2013, and Ken Gigliotti captured the photo below, inside the sanctuary, which holds 80 parishioners.
This church is designated Manitoba Municipal Heritage Site number 342, and is described as a “Gothic Revival-style structure that succeeded an 1887 Presbyterian facility.”
An eighteen-wheeler rumbles by, heading south, toward Morris.
The stone on the right is the headstone of Daniel Lowe, who was the first burial in the Union Point Cemetery. He was the landowner who donated the land for this church and cemetery.
The foundation is not in great shape. It would be nice to see the caretakers get some assistance in preserving this little church, which has become a roadside sanctum for a congregation of travelers who visit two or three at a time.
Photos by Troy Larson except where noted, original content copyright © 2016 Sonic Tremor Media