Built in 1851, this limestone church was built for 87 indigenous families in the community known as Indian Settlement and is still running to this day. St. Peters Dynevor Church is a local landmark and is a now a national historic site.
St. Peters Dynevor Church geocache site is located north of East Selkirk, Manitoba, Canada at N 50º 11.008´ latitude and W 96º 50.368´ longitude. If you find the geocache and scan the QR code inside of it, it brings you here to learn more. Watch all of our videos on our YouTube Channel. Other heritage content can be found on our Red River North Heritage Youtube channel.
In 1851, about 87 indigenous families, around 500 people, from the Red River region, wanted a church that could withstand the extreme temperature changes of the region and become a sacred gathering place that would survive for generations.
St. Peters Dynevor was built in the period from 1851 to 1853. It was the church for the local community, made up of many First Nations people of Saulteaux and Cree heritage.
The church was built from limestone, a material that was durable and plentiful in the local area. At least 80 cords of limestone were needed for the foundation and walls of the church. The limestone blocks were very heavy and it took many days to haul them from the riverbank and nearby quarries to the building site.
The original bell tower served the church for over thirty years, but it had to be dismantled in the early 1880s due to a safety issue. It was rebuilt in 1904 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the church.
In 1999, a committee of volunteers from the indigenous community, and local historians was formed under the direction of Lorraine and Don Swanson to raise funds to repair and restore the church to its former glory.
As the floor was rotten, it had to be removed, and the walls needed major repair and a fresh coat of paint. As a designated heritage building, archaeological excavation was required to inspect the ground under the church floor. This excavation recovered more than 200 artifacts, including mammal bones, tool fragments, building materials, and bottles, dating back to the 1800s.
No story about St. Peter’s Church would be complete without mentioning Chief Peguis. Chief Peguis established St. Peter’s Church with Reverend William Cockran.
Peguis originally came from Sault Saint Marie and he met and befriended several French fur traders while residing there. They called Peguis’ people Saulteaux, meaning people who jump or shoot the rapids, because the people jumped and leapt across the rapids as they speared fish on the Saint Mary’s River. Today, descendants call themselves Saulteaux, Ojibway, or Anishinaabe.
Chief Peguis held firm to his spiritual beliefs and traditions for many years, refusing to surrender to the teachings, religion, and language of Christian missionaries. However, he was a deeply spiritual man, and after much persuasion, consented to a Christian baptism as an old man. He accepted the Christian name William King.