Collaborative effort tells history of early Ladner and its churches

A beautifully-illustrated history of pioneer life in South Delta and the early history of both Ladner and St. Stephen’s United churches is now available for purchase.

A Heart for God in the Heart of the Village has been put together by Ken Atkey (posthumously) and Catherine Bone (wife of now retired Rev. Jim Short).

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The release of the book coincides with the anniversary of the United Church of Canada, which marks its 94th year on June 10.

Bone explained that when the restoration of the church took place in 2012, lots of history was unveiled. Photos were taken and the idea of a historical look at the churches was suggested.

Atkey had already compiled years of research, notes and stories, but passed away days before the church re-opened.

“What I think is important about this book is that it covers the first churches that were here and that history. You can’t tell that history without telling the history of Ladner Village,” said Short. “If you don’t know a lot about Ladner, you will learn a lot by reading this book.”

The book offers a perspective of the area and how the pre-union denominations (Methodist and Presbyterian) brought their communities of faith alive through their ministries and buildings. Throughout the book there are stories of the struggles of farmers, fishermen and homemakers as they settled in South Delta.

The collaborative effort by Atkey and Bone is the result of meticulous research and collection of bits and pieces of documents, stories and photos about Ladner United and St. Stephen’s churches.

Along with Bone, others in the church, including long-standing member and local historian Matt Rogers and Atkey’s wife Marion, helped on the project.

“Ken wrote a lot about the area and it became evident that this should be a book about the purpose of this congregation and not singularly about this building,” said Bone. “I wanted to honour Ken’s writing and the history of the ministry of this church. It was also my way to say thank-you to Ladner United as Jim and I leave Ladner United after 18 years.”

Marion said she is pleased how the book came together.

“I wasn’t that familiar with all the research he was doing. I knew he spent a lot of time in museums,” Marion recalled. “He was always researching something.”

Rogers said there are a lot of threads that tie this book together with others that have been written.

“There are probably five or six things written about Delta and this book pulls them all together,” he said. “Books like this open up areas of inquiry. What you find when people come into Ladner Village is that they see it as a neat place. Having lived here for many years, you know there have been changes, but you have to have some reference points and that there is a history. And with a book like this, you get a sense of what life was like and to keep those connections that are so important.”

The book costs $45. It’s available by emailing Diane Catt at: or by calling Karen Bowing at 604-946-6426. All orders must be placed by June 13.




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