A quick trip into Kelowna’s history as church time capsule cracked open

A time capsule sitting in the cornerstone of St. Paul's church was opened Tuesday, offering a brief glimpse into Kelowna's past.

Rev. Richard Chung on Tuesday opened the time capsule set in the corner of St. Paul's church. Here the protective fabric is removed and he gets the first peek of what's inside.

As Kelowna’s daily newspaper announced the Soviet Union had launched a vessel that was orbiting the moon, local residents were looking forward to a new era of prosperity at home, with construction of a new bridge over Okanagan Lake.

The most robust industries of the region were lumber as well as farming cattle and fruit. Meanwhile, Calona Wines was offering its first bottles, to much enthusiasm.

Those are just a couple story lines that emerged as the time capsule that had been set in the corner stone of St. Paul’s United Church since 1957 was cracked open Tuesday morning.

Opening of the capsule, which was found in November as the congregation got ready to bulldoze the old church so St. Paul’s Sanctuary project could be built, prompted nearly 100 locals to withstand  drizzly and cold conditions.

Half a dozen of those gathered have been part of the church since it was constructed, although most were children back then, and had no recollection of what was within the metal box that was sealed with keepsakes from a  time past.

Lorraine McClarty, however, was a congregation member of the First United church back in the day, the emcee of the opening pointed out.

“She knows what’s in it—she’s the only one–but she’s not telling,” the crowd gathered was told.

It’s good that she stayed mum, as the time capsule clearly caught the imaginations of numerous Kelowna residents.

Rev. Richard Chung was the designated box-keeper in the months since its discovery, and when people learned it was in his possession they couldn’t help but prod him for details.

“”People I’ve never seen before were coming up to me and saying ‘what’s in the time capsule?'” he said, noting that he was even asked while relaxing in the sauna at the H20 Centre.

“I have no idea,” he would tell them.

It was securely ensconced in the recesses of his closet, between piles of underwear, he told the crowd, grinning.

Although he joked about keeping the secrets of the capsule, Chung pointed out that he didn’t actually care about the particulars of the box—they are really secondary to the spirit in which they were tucked away.

“What really matters is what (the capsule) represented,” he said. “It represents the faith, dreams, loving prayers and sacrifice that congregation members of 1957 put into it… it represents their faithfulness and dreams for the future.”

And those dreams, he said, laid the groundwork for the realities of today.

“As we open (this box) let’s remember them and celebrate their faith,” he said.

The contents will be displayed at a later date, and a yet disclosed location, in the weeks ahead.