Glenbow Museum Celebration

One of the newest pieces in the Glenbow Museum in Calgary comes from the Raymond Buddhist Church. An ornate shrine has been recast in the role of a museum piece.

The shrine was built in Kyoto, Japan in the early 1930's. It is made of wood, gilt, and gold leaf. Its painted with a lacquer metal paint. The brilliant gold of the shrine and its elaborate decorations reflect Amida Buddha’s radiant compassion and wisdom. The scrolls on either side of the shrine represent Shinran Shonin (1173-1262 A.D.), who founded the school, and the Eighth Abbot, Rennyo Shonin (1411-1499 A.D.), who developed the sect in its present form. The Double Wisteria, representing humility and reverence to Amida Buddha, is the Jodo Shinshu crest.

Raymond Buddhist Church shrine, 1976, Glenbow Archives NA-5720-26

The Raymond Buddhist Church was the first Buddhist temple in southern Alberta. It operated from 1929 until May 21, 2006.

The building originally housed a school and a Mormon church before it was sold to the Buddhist community in 1929 for $5,000.00. The first focus of devotion for the congregation was a locally made shrine and a scroll from Japan. This magnificent shrine was received as a gift in 1946 from the Japanese community in Royston, B.C. The Amida Buddha statue was sent from New Westminster, B.C. The Raymond Buddhist Church was the social, spiritual and cultural centre of the Japanese community in this rural farming area. The Church ran a Japanese food store, and sponsored fun community gatherings, theatre performances, sports, parades, educational activities and spiritual events. The building was designated a Provincial Historic Site in 1984.

A small Japanese community worked in farming and coal-mining in Alberta prior to 1942. During the Second World War, Japanese-Canadians living in British Columbia were uprooted by the Canadian government and forced into internment camps, losing their homes and businesses. Due to a labour shortage, many Japanese-Canadians were sent to Alberta to work on sugar-beet farms where they faced many hardships. Gradually, they settled permanently in Lethbridge, Raymond, Coaldale, Taber, and Picture Butte. A Buddhist Church was founded in each location as a cultural centre of the community.

To celebrate the exhibit, Glenbow is having an afternoon of Japanese culture.
Rev. Leslie Kawamura and Rev. James Martin will lead a blessing ceremony for the beautiful Japanese Buddhist shrine recently donated to Glenbow.
Enjoy a wonderful dance performance by the Kaede Cultural Society and finish the afternoon with some tea and Japanese snacks.

Sunday, May 3, 2:00-4:00pm

Glenbow Museum
Level 2, Art of Asia Gallery
130–9 Avenue S.E. Calgary