History of Victoria County - Part 18 - Methodism in Lindsay

The Methodist church in Lindsay stands a close second to the Catholic church in point of time.

In 1832, two years after Father Crowley had said his first mass in Ops, the Rev. Conrad Vandneen rode in from the Cavan Circuit over the quagmire trail through the forest and preached to a tiny log cabin conventicle. Successors in this mission work were the Rev. John Law, in 1833, the Rev. John Black in 1834, and the Rev. William Young in 1835.

In 1836 Cavan was united with the Peterborough Circuit and Lindsay was supplied from the Brock Circuit on the west. The missionary from 1836 to 1838 was the Rev. Cornelius Flummerfelt, who was followed in 1839-40 by the Rev. Horaco Dean, whose son, later became Judge Dean. In 1841 and 1842, the visiting pastor was the Rev. John Sanderson, a gentle soul known throughout the countryside as "Little Peculiarities," because of his constant rebroof of critics of their neighbors: "You know we all have our little peculiarities." Under his direction an acre of land was secured from the government on the southwest corner of William and Wellington Streets and a small frame building, used as a school during the week and as a church on Sunday, was erected. This building, which is at once the oldest school, and the oldest Protestant church in Lindsay, still stands at No. 23 Wellington Street. In 1852, on the erection of a second church, it became the Methodist parsonage. It is now occupied by a cobbler.

The subsequent pastors up to 1852 were the Rev. Herman Davis in 1843, the Rev. Gilbert Miller and the Rev. Samuel Fear in 1844, the Rev. Gilbert Miller and the Rev. Abraham Dayman in 1845, the Rev. William Young in 1846, the Rev. David Hardy in 1847, the Rev. C.W.M. Gilbert in 1848, the Rev. John Sanderson in 1849, and the Rev. Cornelius Flummerfelt in 1850-51. None of these ministers lived in Lindsay at all except the Rev. David Hardy, who sojourned in the village during 1847.

The First Resident Methodist Minister

The first official resident minister was the Rev. Thomas Hannah, appointed in 1852. During his ministry a much larger frame church, more recognizable in its architecture, was built next to the original building but fronting on William Street. It is occupied at the present day by Skitch's Carriage Works. The earlier structure was then occupied by Mr. Hannah as a parsonage.

From 1854 to 1868 Lindsay was now the head of a circuit and during most of that period two preachers were required to cope with all the country appointments. The senior incumbents were, as follows: - 1854-56, Rev. J.C. Osborne; 1857, Rev. James Greener; 1858-60, Rev. D.C. Clappison; 1861-63, Rev. S.C. Philo; 1864-66, Rev. A. Edwards; 1867-69, Rev. James Greener. The assistants were the following: - 1854, Rev. Garrett Dingman; 1855, Rev. W. H. Chard; 1856, Rev. James Ash; 1857, Rev. A.L. Peterson; 1858, Rev. David Jackson; 1859, Rev. W.W. Miller; 1860, Rev. J.H. Stinson; 1861, Rev. N.S. Burwash; 1862, Rev. N. Galbraith; 1863, Rev. Thomas Adams, B.A., 1864, Rev. W.F. Morrison, B.A. In 1865 most of the country appointments were formed into an Oakwood Circuit. In 1868 all remaining outlying charges were annexed to Oakwood and the Lindsay church was left to devote all its energies to development at home.

A floating debt of several hundred dollars was now paid off in 1869 and preparations were made to build a new brick church and a new parsonage. In 1870 the Rev. Mr. Greener was succeeded by the Rev. C. Freshman, D.D. A lot was purchased in this same year on the northwest corner of Bond and Cambridge streets and a parsonage built. In 1871 a church of white brick was put up on the same property at a cost of $12,000. It was dedicated to divine worship on December 17, 1871, by the Rev. G.H. Davis. The ministers for the next fifteen years were as follows: - 1872-74, Rev. James Brock; 1875-76, Rev. Charles Fish; 1877-79, Rev. Wellington Jeffers, D.D.; 1880-82, Rev. John S. Clarke; 1883-84, Rev. Wm. H. Elmsley; 1885-86, Rev. M.L. Pearson.

A Season of Amalgamation

In the early eighties, two local congregations of similar tenets, the Episcopal Methodists and the Bible Christians, amalgamated with the Cambridge Street church. The Episcopal Methodists were the dominant division of the Methodist church in the United States. A mission on Peel Street flourished in the seventies, but was closed in June 1881 by the Rev. George Abbs, the presiding elder of the district because of the atrophy of funds and enthusiasm. The Bible Christian church had begun in England in 1815 in an evangelistic revival within the Wesleyan Methodist church. Its leaders were pursued by the Methodists with the same bitter persecution that they themselves had suffered from the Church of England in the previous century. In Canada, a wider toleration helped to heal the breach but separation prevailed until the eighties. A Bible Christian congregation in Lindsay built in 1873, at a cost of $3400, a white brick church on the east side of Cambridge Street between Wellington and Peel streets, the building occupied today by the Baptists. Their chief pastors during the next ten years were the Rev. Mr. Ayors, the Rev. Mr. Roberts, the Rev. R.T. Courtico, and the Rev. Mr. Limbert. On February 12, 1883, the congregation voted to joint he Methodist church, and one Sunday morning in the following summer the members marched up Cambridge Street in a body to be welcomed back into their ancestral folds. Similar reunions of Methodist sub-denominations were being accomplished throughout Canada at this time and on Tuesday, October 23, 1883, a service of commemoration and thanksgiving was held in the Cambridge Street church.

The congregation had by these amalgamations become uncomfortably large for the church building. Alternation and additions were therefore made in 1866. Extensions were made on the north and south sides, giving additional seating capacity for several hundreds. A gallery was built around the north, east and south walls of the interior and a pipe organ, fronted by a choir loft, placed in the west. The pulpit was placed in front of the choir. While this remodeling was in progress, the congregation met each Sunday in the upstairs auditorium of the town hall. The church was formally reopened on December 19, 1886.

The pastors of the Cambridge Street church since that time have been as follows: - Rev. Wm. Williams, D.D., appointed 1888; Rev. T.M. Campbell, 1891; Rev. S.J. Shorey, D.D., 1894; Rev. Thomas Manning, D.D., 1897; Rev. Geo. W. Henderson, D.D., 1902; Rev. Geo. J. Bishop, D.D., 1905; Rev. J.P. Wilson, D.D., 1908; Rev. S.J. Shorey, D.D., 1911; Rev. A.H. Going, 1915; Rev. E. Val Tilton, 1918.

East Ward Methodist Church

A second Methodist church, functioning in the East Ward of the town, is now forty-three years old.

For some time prior to 1878, the Rev. James Greener, a superannuated minister, had been carrying on pastoral work in the East Ward on his own initiative. No church of any denomination existed east of the river. In 1878 the Mayor of the town, Colonel Deacon, gave Mr. Greener a quarter of an acre of land on Bertie Street, and Mr. Greener, on his own responsibility and at his own expense had a little wooden church built on it. On the 17th of November, 1878, the building was dedicated to the service of God.

The Rev. Mr. Greener was followed by the Rev. W.A. V. Pattyson, the Rev. Thomas Culbert, and the Rev. G.W. Dewey. In 1888, during Mr. Dewey's pastorate, the two storey frame church veneered with white brick was built on the southeast corner of Queen and Caroline streets. The building was 58 feet long by 42 feet wide and had the main auditorium upstairs and the Sunday School on the ground floor. The Bertie Street church was converted into a double dwelling-house. It was burned down on February 18, 1892. A parsonage was built on St. Paul Street in 1889.

The pastors since the time of the Rev. Mr. Dewey have been as follows: - Rev. Newton Hill, appointed 1891; Rev. John W. Totten, 1894; Rev. James McFarlane, 1897; Rev. A.J. Harvey Strike, 1900; Rev. H.L. Phelps, 1904; Rev. Jos. R. Real, 1908; Rev. David Balfour, 1910; Rev. J.S. McMullen, 1913; Rev. C.H. Coon, 1917.

In 1920 steps were taken to put up a new church on the southwest corner of Lindsay and Wellington Streets. On March 17, 1921, a $25,000 building of red brick was opened by Dr. Chown, General Superintendent of the Methodist church in Canada.

The Methodists in Lindsay total 2262.

Next - History of the County of Victoria Part 19

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