Reverend F.E. Runnalls
Reverend Francis (Frank) Edwin Runnalls was born in 1895 in the farming community of Mt. Brydges, Ontario. He graduated from the University of Toronto with a B.A. in 1917, and from Knox Theological College (Toronto) in 1921 with a Bachelor of Divinity. After ordination, he was sent to the railway towns of McBride and Lucerne, BC. He married Nellie Oliver, a Sunday school teacher and daughter of Premier John Oliver, in Victoria in 1923. Runnalls also served the Church at Grand Forks (1923-1926) – during which time he joined the newly formed United Church of Canada; Riverview (1926-1932) and Cedar Cottage (1932-1941) in Vancouver; Knox in Prince George (1941-1946); Armstrong (1946-1953); South Arm-Steveston in Richmond (1953-1962); and Steveston (1962-1964).
Runnalls was a history buff and wrote a number of books including ‘The History of Knox United Church’, published in 1945 and ‘A History of Prince George’ published in 1946, after the typewritten copy he had given to the Prince George Public Library proved to be so popular.
In an oral history interview on the United Church of Canada website, Runnalls described what it was like in Prince George during World War Two. He said it was in interesting time after the Pearl Harbour attack and the building of the Alaska Highway. About 5,000 soldiers were camped in town outnumbering Prince George’s population of about 2,000. Many of the soldiers came to Knox United Church – as the new sanctuary had not yet been built Runnalls said it was often very crowded at services. Reverend Runnalls retired in the White Rock/Surrey area and died in 1990.