A LIFE HISTORY OF LATE JOHN CALVERT, REABORO - HIS WORK FOR CHURCH

 

The Late John Calvert , a well known and highly respected Christian gentleman, resident in Reaboro for the greater part of his long and exceedingly useful life, was born in Port Hope, Ont., on August 13, 1832. In the family in which John was a member there were ten children - four sons and six daughters - and although he was the oldest son he only ranked as the third eldest, having two sisters older than himself. His father and mother (Mr. and Mrs. George Calvert) were of English extraction, both having been born in the county of Yorkshire. In 1832 they embarked from Liverpool for Canada, crossing the Atlantic in a sailing vessel, which operation occupied six weeks and three days. Immediately they planted their feet on terra firma they proceeded to Port Hope, which at that time was very sparsely populated, the country being two-thirds forest. Mr. Calvert entered the employ of Messrs. Wade and Jeykell, farmers and gardeners, whom he served for eight years, which formed a striking contrast with the duties that fell to the lot of the English weavers to which not only he but his father before him had been apprenticed.

When John had reached the age of five his father moved a little out of Port Hope, the lad going to live for some time at Cobourg with his Uncle and Aunt Simpson, which afforded him the opportunity of attending school; a short time afterwards he went to stay with his uncle, William Calvert, resident about two miles east of Port Hope.

In the year 1841 the Calvert family left Port Hope for Bloomfield(now Baillieboro),and, although only nine years of age, John seeing the misery and degradation caused through the consumption at that time of large quantities of intoxicating liquor and tobacco, became so disgusted that he resolved he would never become addicted to either of these habits-a resolution to which he strictly adhered throughout the whole of his life. Often was he heard to repeat the following:

"No Whisky, brandy, gin or rum

Into my mouth shall ever come,

and here I pledge eternal hate

To all that will intoxicate.

Cigars,, tobacco, O abhor,

Gainst then wage eternal war.

No vicious deeds or words profane

My lips or life shall ever stain.

I mean to live both wise and good

That I may dwell at last with God."

About a year later John's father and mother (who had formerly belonged to the Church of England) were converted at special meetings, shortly after the opening of the new Baptist Church at Bloomfield, which building was presented to the Baptist denomination by Mrs. Graham, a wealthy American lady.

From his early days John was a boy of the fields, being able to plow with great efficiciency when but twelve years of age, and a1so proved himself to be of material assistance to his father in the summer months, at which season of the year boys having reached John's age were permitted to absent themselves from school. On attaining the age of 15, John's father rented another farm of 100 acres, about 2 1/2 miles distant from Bloomfield (the Robt. Storey farm), and the boy, having now left school, looked after this farm for three years, staying with his grandfather and grandmother, Mr., and Mrs. Thomas Calvert. Mrs. Thos. Calvert was an intense lover of the Word of God, and her life made a marked impression upon the youth's mind, and through the combined influence of his grandmother and mother he began to take an interest in the Scriptures, turning up the preacher's text on its announcement and carefully following his line of argument.

On John's coming of age the Calvert family removed to the Township of Ops, purchasing 100 acres, lot 11, con. 10, east of what is now known as the Village of Reaboro, which he helped to clear.

After the elapse of another twelve months, John took unto himself a wife of the Cavamites, being united in marriage to Ellen Jane Thorn, youngest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Thorn.

His twenty-sixth year, however, was the most eventful year of his life. It was this year he passed from darkness into light, from death unto life through surrendering himself unreservedly to Jesus Christ, whom he trusted as his personal Saviour. Mr. Calvert entered upon active service for his Master, deeply interesting himself in the Sunday School at Hill Head, where the Baptists were carrying on mission work, although there was no organized church there at that time. Having some knowledge of music, he gathered together every Sunday morning at 8.30 a number of boys and girls ranging from eight to twelve years of age for half an hour's practice before the appointed hour for the school to commence, and so successful was this singing class that the minister (Mr. Daniel Wright) was constrained on one occasion to exclaim that he had not in all his experience heard a choir capable of excelling the one trained by Mr. Calvert.

At the age of 30 he was baptized by the Rev. Mr. McIntyre in the River Scugog, two miles south of Lindsay, with five others. A few months afterwards the Lindsay Baptist Church was formed with fourteen members, of which Mr. Calvert was one.

After the elapse of two years Mr. Calvert was elected to a place on the council for the Township of Ops, which consisted of fine men, and in March of 1864 the question was put to the council by the Reeve, "What are we going to do about giving licenses to sell intoxicating liquor?" to which Mr. Calvert replied that he strongly objected to the granting of such, whereupon the Reeve stated that the council was obliged to grant licenses, but in order to overcome the difficulty and to wipe out this traffic they were at liberty to raise the license fee (which was at that time $40) to any figure they wished. The fee was there and then raised to $200, resulting in the total abolition once and for all of the liquor traffic from the rural communities in Ops.

Owing to the Lindsay Baptist Church having been materially strengthened numerically, and also to the fact that the Baptists were increasing in the vicinity of Hill Head, it was considered an opportune time for the formation of a Baptist Church at Hill Head, which was affected In 1867, Mr. Calvert being elected by the members one of the deacons.

On September 28th, 1867, Mr. Calvert's wife, who had worked nobly and incessantly for Christ from the moment of her conversion, entered upon her eternal rest, after an illlness of only 21 days, having contracted typhoid fever when visiting the sick and ministering to their needs, leaving five children to mourn her loss : Fanny, Charlotte, Ellen, Albert Edward, John Thorn, Robert George - the last named being only four months old.

On September 26th, 1868, Mr. Calvert married Miss Emma Parkin, youngest daughter of Mr., and Mrs. Samuel Theodore, Joseph Fletcher, February 13th, 1906, Mr. Calvert's second wife died, the children of this marriage being:-Samuel James, Samuel Theodore, Joseph Fletcher, Annie Delinda, James Leslie, Jessee Briggs, Earl Wellington.

In the year 1881 at a meeting consisting of eight men, it was decided to build a new church at Reaboro, the eight men (Mr. Calvert being one) contributing amongst them that night $800 towards the expenses of same. The summer of 1882 saw the church erected, at a cost $1300, and within the space of two years from its erection the outstanding amount had been liquidated. There being at that time no resident minister, Mr. Calvert took a very prominent part in weekly prayer meetings.

Mr. Calvert’s genial disposition resulted in him being loved by all who knew him, old and young alike, his numerous friends whom he delighted to visit always extending to him a hearty welcome. He had a place on the deaconate ever since the Reaboro Baptist Church was organized, and was superintendent of the Sunday School from the year 1864.

On Sunday, November 9th, 1913, Mr. Calvert being 81 years of age, walked a distance of two and a half miles through a very heavy rainstorm in order to be at his post in the Sunday School, although he was only greeted by three children, to whom he made known the way of life, and after attending church service, at which there were only five present, he dined in the village. The storm not having abated, and being anxious to reach home as soon as possible, he set out immediately after dinner to cover on foot the distance he had already walked that morning, and when outside the front door he turned around with umbrella in hand to the preacher and sang sweetly and cheerfully:

"We'll stand the storm; it won't be long; we'll anchor by and by."

Mr. Calvert attributed his good health and long life to trusting in the Lord-and to applying the laws of common sense to his manner of living.


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