Arizona Church – 1898

The church is a simple frame structure with gothic windows. Throughout the building’s life as a church it was not equipped with pews but used chairs instead. It was originally a Presbyterian church. Methodists rented it until 1925 when the Methodist Church of Canada, the Presbyterian Church in Canada, the Congregational Union of Canada and General Council of Union Churches amalgamated into the United Church.  Arizona Church at that time became a United Church.

The Arizona United Church remained in use until the mid 1960s when it was closed for regular services however it was re-opened for weddings and funerals. Former members of the church raised money to have it moved to the museum in 1974. As it was typical of the rural churches of the prairies, the Museum was pleased to accept donation.

The Arizona district was settled in 1883. As the area was isolated the community came to be named “Arizona” because early settlers joked that they were so far away from civilization that they might just as well be in Arizona, U.S.A. This isolation meant that there were no trappings of civilization such as schools or churches in the early years. The area, some twenty years after settlement, received rail service when the Canadian Northern Pacific (CNoP) built a rail line from Portage La Prairie to Brandon through the area. This rail line eased life in the area considerably.

The first settlers were Mr. and Mrs. Fred Roseberry and these pioneer citizens were prominent members of the early Methodist congregation. The first Church services were held in their home. Using private homes for church services was a common practice in pioneer Manitoba. After the formation of a school district in 1885, the Methodist congregation in Arizona used the school classroom for church services, another common practice in pioneer Manitoba.

The church services were conducted in the Roseberry home by Rev. J.W. Bell, who walked from Carberry – a distance of 17 miles – every Wednesday morning. According to legends passed down through the years, Rev. Bell carried a gun enroute to these services in Arizona so that he could take advantage of duck shooting along the way.

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