The First Rector

July 1, 2011 marked the 100th anniversary of St. Catherine’s registration as a parish in the Diocese of New Westminster. The official recognition of St. Catherine’s came with the arrival of the Reverend H. Fane Edge as the church’s first rector. Rev. Edge served at St. Catherine’s for just over two years, but during that short time he made an impact on both the parish and the community.

Herbert Fane Edge was born in England and studied Divinity at Bishop’s University in Lennoxville, Quebec. He came to St. Catherine’s directly from his studies in Lennoxville. He was 26 years old.

When he took his position as vicar he had not yet been ordained a priest, although he would recently have been ordained a deacon. Rev. Edge’s must have found some time for further theological studies during his first year at St. Catherine’s. His ordination to the priesthood took place on June 2, 1912. The Coquitlam Star reported the event under the headline “Coquitlam Pastor One of First Two Trained for Church of England in British Columbia”:

"At Christ Church of Vancouver Sunday morning the Bishop of New Westminster, Rt. Rev. A. U. De Pencier, D.D., assisted by the Venerable Dr. Pentreath, archdeacon of British Columbia, ordained the first deacons and priests of the Church of England trained in British Columbia for the church. Among the priests ordained was Rev. R.F. [sic] Edge of Coquitlam."

Within months of his arrival in Coquitlam Rev. Edge had become actively involved in the church and the wider community. By his first Christmas season he had acted as chairman for a concert given at the work camp for the “boys” constructing the local Asylum (Essondale) and had given a Christmas Party for the children of Coquitlam. He also had participated in a concert sponsored by the Women’s Auxiliary at which he performed several songs. Early in 1912 he helped to organize a Basketball Club (associated with the Coquitlam Young Ladies Club) and served as referee for its games. By spring he had designed and erected a small belfry on the church. In April 1912, with the help of several members of the Men’s Club, he constructed a two-room vicarage adjoining the church. He also organized a choir for the church, which recently had purchased an organ.

In addition to his other duties, Rev. Edge devoted some time to raising funds for the church. In 1911, he secured $200 from the directors of the Coquitlam Terminal Company for the Men’s Club. The following year, he made another appeal, and the directors donated $100 toward the construction of a new church on Mary Hill (a dream that was never realized). Despite his efforts, the financial position of the parish would remain precarious.

In February, Bishop de Pencier appointed Rev. Edge to the post of Immigration Chaplain at Vancouver, a position that included the Chaplaincy to Hospitals and Jails. Rev. Edge was to remain as Priest-in-Charge of Coquitlam “because the church is unable to support the mission as a vicarage.” He would continue to reside in Coquitlam, but his official headquarters would be the Archdeacon’s office on Pender Street, Vancouver. He would continue evening services and “occasional visiting” at St. Catherine’s.

With his appointment as Immigration Chaplain, Rev. Edge’s service at St. Catherine’s was nearing its end. In September 1913, the Bishop of New Westminster appointed the Rev. J.C. Mitton to take over the services at St. Catherine’s beginning October 1. Rev. Edge continued for a time as Immigration Chaplain and subsequently was chaplain at the Burnaby prison farm. In August, 1914, he accepted a post as rector of St. Alban’s Church, Edmonds (Burnaby).

I do not know where Rev. Edge went after his service at St. Alban’s. I suspect he eventually returned to England where he died in 1973. This suspicion is based on a biographical sketch of Canadian artist Joe Plaskett: “In 1973, Plaskett inherited the cottage in Suffolk from an old family friend, an Anglican clergyman named Fane Edge, whom he had been visiting annually in England for 15 years.” If anyone can add to this biography, please post a comment or e-mail