In 1910, Alexander McKay, a skilled journeyman living on the North Shore of Shuswap Lake, began cutting the logs for a new church building, with the help of other local settlers. The church, which was finished in midsummer of 1911, was built entirely by volunteer labour, the result of brush clearing, tree chopping, planing, sawing and mortaring, a huge effort of a few dozen men and women who wanted a place to worship.
Mrs. C.C. Davidson was chosen to lay the corner stone. She was the daughter-in-law of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, Sir Charles Piers Davidson and she had come with her husband to this lake settlement in 1909. The Rt. Rev. Adam Urias de Pencier travelled all the way from the Pacific Coast to consecrate this new Anglican church with its cobble stone foundation, log walls and hand-hewn shingle roof. Present for the great occasion were the settlers from the lakeshore communities of Sorrento, Blind Bay, Scotch Creek and Anglement. A congregation of 65 people was present at the consecration by Bishop de Pencier on December 10, 1911.
On Trinity Sunday, May 18, 1913, the new parish was placed in charge of the Rev. R.E. Grice-Hutchison. The first wedding at the church took place in 1920 with the Rev. Grice-Hutchison officiating. He married Alfred and Edith Salter, who were immigrants from England homesteading in the Notch Hill area. The Salter’s grand-daughter, Pamela, was married in the same church some 64 years later.
In 1938 the church building, which had been constructed of unpeeled fir logs, was found to be full of dry rot which forced an almost complete rebuilding of the structure. The new design was executed under Kamloops architect, Ian Robertson Marrison, F.R.A.I.C. It was his idea to redesign the outside of the building showing white stucco and timbers to give it a Tudor look. The remodeled church was reopened by the Bishop on July 10, 1938.
As the district began to grow after the Second World War, the developing population supported a renewed growth of interest in St. Mary’s which began to have a regular pastorate in the early 1970s. An inspired idea had grown in the community for an agreement between the Anglican Diocese of Kootenay and the Kamloops/Okanagan Presbytery of the United Church of Canada. This Ecumenical Shared Ministry began on July 1, 1971, with the Rev. Norman Wilkinson as Incumbent.
In 1974, the Roman Catholic Church needed a new home in the Sorrento area and began using St. Mary’s church as their place of worship. From the early 1980s until 2009 the congregation, known as Our Lady of the Lake Parish, held regular masses on Saturday evenings or Sunday mornings in our church, moving into their own building in June of 2009.
From an active congregation of about fifteen parishioners in 1970, St. Mary’s has shown steady growth. In 1975 the Church Board established a fund to enlarge and modernize the church building to accommodate an increased population and a Sunday School. In 1986, the building committee, with the help of the Diocese of the Anglican Church, ordered the construction of an addition to the church. A local contractor, Terry Ramsay, undertook the work. The finished building now has more than double the capacity of the original, with an extended chancel and ample office and vestry space. The new downstairs has a hall and kitchen and modern plumbing.
In 2004, St. Mary’s purchased the residential property on the East side of the church with the help of parishioners, the Diocese of Kootenay and the Anglican Foundation. This property is an acre in size and was purchased for future expansion.