Glen Leslie Church

& Cemetery

Alberta, Canada


The following from the Grande Prairie Herald-Tribune

Cemetery storytelling a loving way to reconnect generations 

by: Sue Farrell Holler

        My parents' remains are buried in a pretty little cemetery that's a stone's throw from the house my dad built, and where I grew up. It's on a side hill beside a river and this time of year is abloom with the pink blossoms of ornamental crab trees and the soft green of newly unfurled leaves that thrive on the wood-land border.

            It's a quiet place, tucked away and unused for the most part. Most people who live in the area don't even know it's there.

When I spent the summer "at home" two years ago, I'd often take my morning coffee to the cemetery to sit with Mom and Dad. I didn't think about them really, or anything more than the ducks that swam at the water's edge. It was, rather, a place of contented silence. Being there wasn't morbid, or at all sad; there was just a serene type of comfort.

The cemetery was used for only a few years in the late 1950s when my eldest brother died in infancy. Except for the occasional foray with my best friend on damp and foggy nights when we'd hope to encounter ghosts, it wasn't somewhere I went as a child. It certainly wasn't a place I'd have thought to go for a few moments of quiet reflection. In my childhood, graveyards were creepy, and not something of my everyday experience.

Mine was a generation removed from death. The women no longer washed and prepared the bodies for burial, wakes were no longer held in front parlors, and funerals were no longer community events.

Death was remote. We seemed to know few people who died, and when someone in the family did, we were sheltered from the death as if it were a contagious disease. The adults would scurry off to take part in the grieving ceremonies, but we'd stay home - even when it came to close relatives such as an aunt, an uncle or a grandfather.

My parents kept us sheltered not out of malice, but out love. They thought it would be better for us not to be saddened, and perhaps not to be burdened by the sights, sounds and smells of death. It's something I wish they had let us experience, this understanding and normalizing of death as something every living thing will one day experience.

I was 'touched the other day to receive an email from one of my Mom's close friends, telling me she had visited Mom's grave with her grandchildren. While there, she told them about my mom and about their long friendship, and about others buried beneath the stones and crosses. I can picture them, walking hand-in-hand, she reminiscing about the people she once knew as she gently introduced the children to death and its customs.

The children will not likely remember the stories, but they will likely remember walking among the head-stones with their grandmother and the sound of her voice as she talked about old friends and neighbours. It's an image I know I'll hold for a long time.

In our culture, we don't like to think about dying and death, but grief is something children need to under-stand. It's a mistake to protect and remove them from the experience of death. They should be allowed to know it, to understand it and to be part of its rituals as much as they are a part of the rituals of life.

How much better to learn about death, and to understand it as a natural part of life, than to be faced with some day losing a friend or loved one without knowledge of grief and without any coping skills.

My mother's friend told me that when she was a child, the family went to the cemetery every Sunday to "visit" with people they once knew. The idea of a cemetery filled not with tears, but with families, stories shared, and the sound of children's questions is a loving way to be remembered.


Bezanson Homecoming Celebration

August 27, 2017

A lovely service was facilitated by Reverend Malcolm at the Glen Leslie Church on Sunday August 27, 2017. The service was one of the events of the "Celebrate Bezanson Homecoming Weekend". Reverend Malcolm is with the Forbes Presbyterian Church in Grande Prairie and had commented that he welcomed the opportunity to provide a service at Glen Leslie. Several members of his congregation from the Forbes Presbyterian Church were in attendance.


Reverend Malcolm provided bulletins for everyone on the details of the service which included the words of the songs. Ruth Boyd led the singing of "All Things Bright and Beautiful, What a Friend We Have in Jesus and How Great Thou Art".



Ruth Boyd

Once the service was complete, Carol Rigler (left) was convinced to play the organ. Although the organ was more than likely, obtained in January 1928 as inscribed on the back panel, it sounded like new as Carol Rigler played a tune. It was a wonderful morning, and everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

The Church had been decorated with several bouquets of home-grown flowers provided by Evelyn Ingraham and Wanda Zenner. The star attraction though was Mrs. Ingram’s rustic cream-can filled with chokecherry branches that were loaded with berries. Several comments were made as to how spectacular the Church looked now that it has been restored.

Reverend and Mrs. Malcolm enjoying the view from the steps.

Prepared by Wanda Zenner




The Alberta Historical Resources Foundation

Announced the 2016 Heritage Awards Recipients

Recipient:       Glen Leslie Church Preservation Group

Project:           Glen Leslie Church Restoration

Category:       Heritage Conservation

Harold Bulford, County Councillor for Division I
Wanda Zenner, President Glen Leslie Church Preservation Group

The awards ceremony was held at the historic McDougall Centre in Calgary on October 14, 2016. 

The evening began with a hors d’oeuvre reception.   Opening greetings were provided by Dr. Laurel Halladay, Chairperson of the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation who stated that the awards are selected every two years to recognize the outstanding achievements of Albertans engaged in heritage preservation, protection and promotion. Mathew Wrangler, Executive Director, filled in for the Honourable Irfan Sabir, Minister of Human Services who was unable to attend the evening’s festivities, and extended greetings as well.  

The formal portion of the awards ceremony commenced with the Glen Leslie Church Preservation Group receiving the first award of the evening.  Wanda Zenner represented the Group and delivered a short speech on the history of the Church, the restoration process and the Centennial Celebration.  She emphasized how important the little log building was and still is, to the Community.  Wanda closed by thanking the Foundation for their support and presented them with one of the books that were compiled not only on the history of the Church but of the Glen Leslie area as well. 

The County had nominated the Group and ensured their representation at the event by the presence of Harold Bulford, County Councillor for Division 1.

Wanda's speech  |  Video of event


 In 2014, Evelyn Ingraham began to landscape an area in the Glen Leslie Cemetery in remembrance of her husband, Leon who had passed away in July.  The completed project is a beautiful spot for all to enjoy as they remember their loved ones.

 Suncrest Memorials’ owner, Wes Shartner from Crooked Creek, donated his services to engrave and install a special rock with “Ingraham Meditation Area”.   The rock was one of the original foundation rocks of the Church that was built in 1915.

                            Donor Wall
A brick for each business or person who donated to the restoration project (at the North end of the church building)
Anyone having other photos please contact us.

The original organ in place for the July 19, 2015 celebration

Glen Leslie Church marks centenary

Charles Wales holds up a picture of him and his classmates back in 1920 when they were attending school at the Glen Leslie Church as well as a certificate honouring him as the Mayor of Glen Leslie for the day for his help in outlining the history of the church while celebrating the building's centennial on Sunday. The church has been restored and held a birthday celebration with some old photos similar to the on held by Wales. Jocelyn Turner/Daily Herald-Tribune

Charles Wales holds up a picture of him and his classmates back in 1920 when they were attending school at the Glen Leslie Church as well as a certificate honouring him as the Mayor of Glen Leslie for the day for his help in outlining the history of the church while celebrating the building's centennial on Sunday. The church has been restored and held a birthday celebration with some old photos similar to the one held by Wales.

Jocelyn Turner/Daily Herald-Tribune

One hundred-year-old stories came alive on Sunday when the Glen Leslie Church celebrated its centennial. 

Located on Highway 670, 21 kilometers east of Grande Prairie, the church was constructed in 1915 on a 10-acre church grant applied for by Thomas Leslie and Rev. Alexander Forbes. 

Charles Wales, who just so happens to be 100-years-old, shared some of his memories of the church, which was also a school between 1918 and 1928.

“I didn’t start school until Feb. 1, 1920... I went to school until I was in Grade 11,” he said. 

“They had to have eight kids to make a school. My brother wasn’t quite old enough but they put him in anyway.”

Wales said for the older kids, the teacher would teach them later in the day and give them lots of homework so they could stay home and do their chores.

“It was a way to keep (us) going to school,” he said. 

Altogether, Wales said there were about 35 students and just one teacher. 

“It was the only church in the county, the only church this big in the county,” said Wales of its importance. “And instead of building a school they used this.”

Wanda Zenner, president of the Glen Leslie Preservation Group said the community has been working for more than a decade to restore the church for the celebration on Sunday. 

“This little building and of course the adjacent cemetery is very important to this community and it really services a wide area now, all the way up to Grande Prairie, all the way up to the Smoky and into the Wapiti and quite far a ways north, up into Teepee Creek,” she said. 

Councilor Harold Bulford of the County of Grande Prairie and MP Chris Warkentin were on hand to help celebrate the prestigious milestone.

“When we see the community come together and really celebrate 100 years and also have this type of a building to celebrate around, I think it brings people together,” said Warkentin. “I think it reminds people of the values that the settlers brought. Not only were they concerned about coming here and building a future for their families but (it was) also important to build a community.”

Rev. George Malcolm, of Forbes Presbyterian, held a rededication ceremony for the church. There were old-fashioned games like three-legged races and sack races as well as cemetery tours and a barbecue for the dozens who turned out to celebrate the day. 

For more information about the church, visit

Twitter: @DHTJocelyn

By Jocelyn Turner, Grande Prairie Daily Herald-Tribune

Sunday, July 19, 2015 6:12:14 MDT PM

The Olson Family had a reunion on the weekend of the celebration. (Pictures)