Our Lady of Good Hope Church is a small, one-storey, wood construction church on the shoreline of Stuart Lake in Fort St. James. The church was built by George Blanchet in 1873 and was the first permanent Catholic mission north of Williams Lake. The church and its nearby graveyard are valued for their associations with Carrier First Nations and with Father Adrien Gabriel Morice, a France-born missionary priest of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, who ran a printing press for prayer books and a newspaper for the Carrier people, out of a cabin on the property.
Father Morice adapted a Dene writing system of symbols to represent the Carrier language. He is recognized as being the first person to make extensive transcriptions of material in an Athabaskan language.
While Father Morice’s linguistic achievements were celebrated in the past, more recently his use of fear tactics on Indigenous people to break their ties with traditional spiritual practise have come under criticism and Indigenous people are now feeling that Morice bullied them into Catholicism.
The historic church was in steady use until 1951, and still holds occasional services today. Headstones in the nearby cemetery still feature the Carrier syllabics that Father Morice worked with.