Our Religious Hertitage

The Church of the Ascension - 1906

The Church of the Ascension (Anglican)
Submitted by Mr. Norman Hagfdorn

The present church of brick construction and true Anglican architecture was built in 1864. It is located on the corner of Albert and Inkerman Streets in the village of Paisley on a parcel of land donated by the late Samuel T. Rowe, who as a pioneer settler of the village of Paisley took up land south of the Saugeen River. The church is built on a raised elevation and set well back from the street lines, surrounded by trees and shrubs creating a picturesque setting and quiet atmosphere.

As no exact records were kept prior to 1855, it is difficult to collect true facts and history of the early days which lead up to the forming of a congregation. According to bits and pieces of history handed down through the years, services of the Anglican faith were held in Orchard's Tavern before 1855. The Parish register does show that a Church of England service was held by Rev. Hodge in 1855 with the object of forming a congregation. The year 1859 marked the first visit to the village by the Bishop of Huron. RT. Rev. Benjamin Cronyn. Bishop Cronyn held a service in St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church for the purpose of baptising and confirming a number of young people and once again attempting to establish a congregation. In 1862 the Rev. R.S. Cooper was appointed incumbent of the Paisley Parish. Through his efforts funds were collected in Toronto, Hamilton, Galt, and Guelph for the erection of a Church building. The church which still stands was completed in 1864 and was opened on Christmas day of that year. Rev. Cooper remained as incumbent until 1868 at which time he was succeeded by Rev. Robert Cordner in the beginning of a rapid succession of incumbents. We will not attempt to deal with all of these incumbents or their many accomplishments even though each one made a lasting impression on the parish.

During the period of 1876-78 the church was enlarged and a Chancel added under the leadership of Rev. Wall. The church mortgage was paid in full during the incumbency of Rev. Brethour (1880-82). Application was made to the Lord Bishop of Huron to have the church consecrated. Added significance to this event was that Bishop Alford of Hong Kong was asked by Bishop Cronyn to consecrate the church, thus giving us a tie with the church throughout the world. While he was in the parish Bishop Alford baptised a number of young people one of whom was Mr. S.F. Ballachey, who would be remembered by many for his dedicated service to the church. During the time of 1888-90 a rectory was purchased. This was used for six years and then sold when a fine large white brick residence was built on Albert Street a few houses south of the church for use as a rectory. In 1904 the church came under the leadership of Rev. L.W. Diehl who set a record (15 years) for the most lengthy tenure of any incumbent. During this time the church was redecorated, but of greater note is the installation of handsome new oak pews which are still in use. In 1919 the Rev. Thomas Hicks was appointed as incumbent. During his tenure the church received many new furnishings, most important of which were gifts of a communion table and accessories from the Ballachey families. A new organ was also purchased at this time. It is worthy of note that the church became self supporting for the first time in 1921. In 1923 both the church and the rectory were equipped with electric lighting. During the incumbency of Rev. ]. Atkinson (1929-33) a building committee was formed and plans were made for a parish hall which was opened by His Grace Archbishop Williams of Huron on October 20, 1930. The crowd for this opening filled the church and hall and overflowed into the yard. During the same time many fine gifts of church furnishings were received. These were communion rail, pulpit, lectern, and prayer desk all of oak construction to match the altar. The Rev. E.D. Dickson (1937-48) led the church through a period which saw the congregations of St. Paul's church, Pinkerton and Holy Trinity church, Cargill added to the parish. In 1948 Mr. Arthur Brown was appointed student in charge of the parish. During his incumbency which lasted until 1950 many improvements were made. These included a new organ, a new font, a new carpet in the Chancel and a new sidewalk leading into the church. The following years saw many more improvements to the church and rectory. These included redecorating both inside and out of the rectory under Rev. Garwood Russell (1950-53). In 1953 Rev. Frank Tomkinson came to the parish directly from Wales. Rev. Robert Carson was rector from 1956 to 1958. During this time some new communion utensils were donated. The church grounds were improved and a new sign erected. ln 1958 Mr. B.S. Hall was appointed student in charge of the parish. Under his leadership the annual chicken barbecue was organized. This for several years was quite an event in the community. Mr. Hall was ordained Priest in 1959 and in 1960 was appointed rector of Walter's Falls parish. He was succeeded by Rev. Murray Brooks who led the congregation in many improvements in the church and rectory. In 1962 Rev. Brooks led the church in its own 100th anniversary celebrations. The centennial was officially marked by a visit from Bishop Appleyard, who officially opened the celebrations by dedicating a plaque in memory of Mr. Samuel T. Rowe who donated land for the church. At the same time Bishop Appleyard confirmed five new church members. The church and parish hall were filled to capacity for the occasion. Many former rectors and other outstanding guests were welcomed to services throughout the year. At the close of the year several stained glass windows were presented by interested individuals and dedicated by Bishop Hall of Hong Kong. In 1963 Rev. Brooks was succeeded by Rev. Douglas Madge. Further renovations and improvements were made to the rectory and the parish hall. Most notable at this time was the continued increase in attendance at church school classes. ln 1965 Rev. Madge was transferred and the parish was served for a time by Rev. Craven who travelled each Sunday from Goderich to conduct a service. Later in the same year Rev. Richard Boaz was appointed to the parish and was enthusiastically received by the congregation. At this time with the purpose of balancing the number of families per parish and lightening the financial burden on small congregations diocesan officials saw fit to organize two, three and even four point parishes. It was decided that Paisley be separated from Cargill and Pinkerton and added to the Chesley-Tara parish. This decision meant that Paisley would no longer have a resident minister as Chesley was the largest church in the parish. Rev. Boaz was most helpful in guiding the congregation through this difficult time. It was with much regret that the people accepted his resignation in January 1969 to make way for this realignment of congregations. For the next several months the congregation was served by Rev. Stephens of the Chesley-Tara Parish. Arrangements for the three point parish were finalized and Rev. Bell was named incumbent of the new parish in late 1969. It was with a good deal of regret that the congregation now realized they would have to part with that fine old white brick residence which had for so many years provided shelter for rectors and their families as well as a meeting place for all sorts of church activities prior to the building of the parish hall in 1930. The building was sold in March of 1970.

In 1962 Rev. Brooks had the happy distinction of leading the congregation through its 100th anniversary. This year, our 112th and the village's centennial the honour goes to Rev. Bell. Already plans are being made for redecorating the church. Special services will be arranged. A welcoming party will be on hand at the church to greet visitors wishing to visit the church. The Anglican church truly hopes to carry its share of the work required to make Paisley's centennial a complete and happy success.

Through the years history has been recorded with all its ups and downs. Always there has been an onward trend. With pride and gratitude we look back on the long line of clergy, wardens, boards of management, guilds and other organizations who dreamed a dream, planned a plan; who by endless meetings and discussion, with countless sales, bazaars, work bees and suppers and personal offerings found the material resources and the fellowship that produced the Anglican church in Paisley.

Rectors of The Church of the Ascension

1855-62 Rev. Hodge
1862-68 Rev. R.S. Cooper
1868-76 Rev. Robert Cordner
1876-78 Rev. Edward Wall
1878-79 Rev, Canon james Chance
1879-80 Rev. A.C. Forbes
1880-81 Rev. W. Brethour
1881-85 Rev. J. Hale
1885-88 Rev. A. Fischer
1888-90 Rev. F.B. Moore
1890-91 Rev. F.R. Ghent
1893-95 Rev. ].R. Kennedy Bell
1895-99 Rev. A.P. Moore
1899-1904 Rev. ].A. Bloodsworth
1904-19 Rev. L.W. Diehl
1919-25 Rev.Thomas Hicks
1925-29 Rev. C.M.C, Hallowell
1929-33 Rev. ]. Atkinson
1933-37 Rev. ].H. Kerr
1937-48 Rev. E.D. Dickson
1948-50 Rev. A.D. Brown
1950-53 Rev. Garwood Russell

1953-56 Rev. Frank Tomkinson
1956-58 Rev. Robert A. Carson
1958-60 Rev. B.S. Hall
1960-63 Rev. Murray Brooks
1963-65 Rev. D.G. Madge
1891-93 Rev. A. Corbett
1965- Rev. W.R. Craven
1965-69 Rev. Richard Boaz
1969- Rev. M_A_ Stephen
1969- Rev. SJ. Bell

Rev, S.]. Bell was inducted into the parish of Chesley, Tara and Paisley at the Church of The Ascension, September, 1969. Mr. Bell was born in Ireland and came to Canada in 1930. He is a graduate in Arts of the University of Saskatchewan and in Theology of Emmanuel College Saskatoon. Ordained deacon in 1936 and priest in 1937, he has served in the Westem Dioceses of Athabasca, Edmonton and the Arctic. From 1957-1961 he was rector of St. Matthew's Cathedral, Timmins and Dean of Moosonee. In the Grey-Bruce area he has been Rector of Hanover, and Incumbent of Walters Falls, Bngnor and Fairmount parish. He is a former Rural Dean of Bruce.

Methodist Church

Submitted by Mrs. Burton Tooke
and The Paislet Advocate

According to the records the Methodists were the first denomination to minister in Paisley. The first minister was Rev. Jas. Hutchinson who was placed in 1851 with D. Sawyer (Indian) over the Saugeen Indian Missions including the white settlements - this mission is claimed to have been formed in 1833. In 1857 Rev. ]. Iveson was sent to Paisley until 1859 when Southampton was attached to Paisley. In 1861 a new mission was formed in Paisley with Rev. Thomas Fox in charge, and again withdrew in 1870. These mission services were held in the old log school house. In 1875 Paisley ceased to be a mission and became self-sustaining. The brick church was built in the late 1870's, the style being typically Methodist, with the aisles at the sides and the seats in the centre, and the floor slightly elevated. When first built the doors were at the centre, but the . church was renovated and a large window was placed in the centre with entrances at

each side. There was a pump organ which supplied the music, played in later years by Mrs. ]ohn McMillan with Dr. Gage as choir leader

The Methodist parsonage was at one time where Howard White now lives and another time where W. Wilson now lives. There was always a large Sunday School.

After Church Union the Methodist Church building was sold to Tupling and Hammond and used as a theatre. When it closed in 1934 Carlaws bought the building and converted it to a basket factory. The building burned in April 1970.

Paisley Baptist Church

Submitted by Mrs. Jno. MacDermid
Clerk Paisley Baptist Church


In 1868 the present building was erected on a site purchased from Mr. Peter Sinclair along the banks of the Saugeen River. For ten years prior to the building of the new church the congregation had been worshipping, first on the Elora Road North, in a log building located on a small lot, immediately south of the present building (formerly U.S.S. 7 & 8 Elderslie & Saugeen School).

The original church had a gallery but this later was removed. In 1895 a shed was built for the accommodation of horses of the country members. This too was removed with the advent of cars. ln 1889 a parsonage was erected alongside the present building. In 1966 it was sold as the present congregation is affiliated with the Chesley congregation, the Pastor residing there.

The first pastor was Rev. Donald McNeil, a native son who lived a few miles north of Paisley. The Williscroft Baptist Church, 12th Conc. Elderslie Twp. was united with Paisley from 1868-1960, when it closed. Six years after the opening of the new church the membership was 310. Rev. Donald McNeil baptized 48 converts in one day. Some of the members of this early congregation who went into the ministry were; Rev. Donald McNeil, Rev. Jno. MacLachlan, Rev. Gilbert Lamont, Rev. Arch. C. Campbell, Rev. Dr. ]no. MacNeil, and his brother Rev. Arch. MacNei1.

Pastors who ministered to this congregation were - Rev. Donald McNeil, 1868-1878, Rev. Campbell, 1878-1882, Rev. ]. C. McDonald, 1883-1888, Rev. P.H. McEwan, 1888-1892, Rev. M.C. Vansickle, 1892-1895, Rev. W.H. Stevens, 1895-1898, Rev. J. J. Reeves, 1898-1902, Rev. J. O'Neil, 1902-1907, Rev. L. J. Steadman, 1907-1910, Rev. E J. McEwan, 1910-1915, Rev. M. Neilson, 1915-1919, Rev. H.C. Packam, 1919-1923, Rev. ].A. MacLuckie, 1924-1927, Rev. A.S. Parnell, 1927-1929, (Student) R.F. Sneyd, 1929-1930, Rev. L.E. Mason, 1930-1935, Rev. H._I. Balsdon 1935-1936, Rev. A.P. Wilson, 1937-1941, Rev. H. Chambers, 1941-1949, (Student) R. Holley, 6 months, 1949, Rev. J.N.H. Norton, 1950-1960, Rev. M. Dolan 1960-1963, Rev. D. Ropp, 1964-1967, Rev. Jno. Ward, 1967-1968, Rev. E. Young, 1968-1972, Rev. I Walker, 1973-.

Rev, Ian Walker, B.A., B.D. was born in Northern Ireland and came to Canada in 1951. received his B.A. from Acadia University, in Nova Scotia and his B.D. at McMaster Divinity College in Hamilton. As a student pastor, he served on the Annapolis Royal if and the Port Lorne-Hampton field in Nova Scotia and in Jerseyville Baptist Church, all also in St. Catharines where he stayed as pastor until 1969. He has also been pastor of churches in Kirkland Lake and Englehart before coming to the charges in Chesley and Paisley in Febmary 1973. He married Margaret Burritt (who was born in Southampton, Ontario) and they have one daughter and three sons.

Knox United Church

Submitted by Mrs. Keith Weeden

Records of Session meetings date back to 1860, but it is known that a Mr. McLennan was inducted into the ministry at Paisley as early as 1856. He preached in Valentine's Mill, and was of the Auld Kirk Faith. It was during his ministry that a small white church was erected on Church St. Soon it became evident that a larger church building was necessary due to the increase in membership. A special meeting was called, and it was decided to erect a church building 50 ft by 70 ft. Lots A. B. C. on Goldie St. were purchased from the Crown. A basement of approximately 100 ft. by 65 ft. was built in 1872 and because of the lack of sufficient funds services were held in it for a time. The church was completed in 1879 at a cost of $15,000, a building often mentioned as the finest in the area. The peaks of the building rose almost 70 ft. above the ground these massive pillars were six bricks thick. The new church became known as Knox Church.

Services were held each Sunday at 10:45 a.m., Sunday School at 2:30 p.m. and Evening Services at 6:30 p.m. As early as 1862 a choir was formed by Mr. _].C. Gibson who used only a tuning fork to lead the singing. The General Assembly introduced the idea of a musical instrument to the Presbyterian Church of Canada in 1871. However the Session of Paisley church resolved to disapprove of any action of the Supreme Court, with regard to having a musical instrument in the church. In 1893 after many heated arguments a vote was called for permission to obtain an organ; the vote carried, on the condition that the organ be paid for when purchased. Permission was also granted to use some hymns as well as the psalms. This organ was replaced by a pipe organ in 1932.

In 1913 Knox Church suffered severe damage when the roof blew off during a bad storm; later, in 1919, a storm damaged the towers so badly that six of them had to be removed.

In 1925 Knox Presbyterian and Wesley Methodist churches united to be known as Knox United Church. The organ and seats were brought from Wesley to Knox and the Wesley church was sold.

Fire destroyed Knox Church in 1961. At a special meeting in March the congregation decided to rebuild Knox. Through the generous co-operation of the sister churches, regular services continued without interruption. Special services were held the week of October 22nd, 1961 for the opening of the new church building. Contributions of gifts as well as money from former members aided this project greatly. Once more Knox congregation had a building to he proud of.

During the years young people have gone forth to serve in the Christian Service. Among them are: Mr. James Steel who served as an ordained Missionary in the Canadian Presbyterian Church, working several years on the Manitoulin Island; Rev. Donald McKay, who became a minister of the Presbyterian Church and served in Manitoba; Dr. Margaret Struthers, (nee Walks), who was a medical Missionary in China, leaving Canada in 1925, and remaining in missionary service until her death; more recently, Miss Evelyn Inglis, now Mrs, Robin Ross, who was ordained as a deaconess of the United Church of Canada.

Rev. Ken Welch was born at Wallacetown, southwest of London, where he attended public school. Three years of Secondary school were received at Arthur Voaden Vocational School in St. Thomas, and then until the age of 30, he farmed with his father. His Call to the ministry came as he was unloading a wagonful of corn, in December of 1959.

After serving at Tobermory for 2 years and Ameliasburg, south of Belleville, for 1 year, he attended Queen's University, and Theological College, Kingston graduating in 1968 with a Degree in Bachelor of Theology. Following ordination in Windsor, he served for two years on the Six Nations Reserve near Brantford. In 1970 he accepted a call to Knox Church Paisley, and since is also sewing the Harmony congregation in the communities of Pinkerton and Cargill.

Mr. Welch is married to the former Helen F. McLeod of Embro. They have two sons: David and Jonathan.

Westninster Presbyterian Church

Submitted by Miss Nettie Scott.

After the vote on Church Union in Knox Church, the members who wished to remain in the continuing Presbyterian Church held a meeting in the Town Hall on May 11th 1925, Rev. Peter Reith presiding. Delegates were appointed to the Congress in Toronto for instructions and a committee appointed to confer with the pastor and congregations of Salem and Gillies Hill, with a view to that charge becoming Salem, Gillies Hill and Paisley, with Rev. A.H. Wilson the pastor. The first service of worship was held in the Town Hall on Sunday June 14th and from that date until the new church was opened Sabbath services were held there. A meeting for the purpose of organization was held on June 24th 1925 at which twelve men were appointed a Board of Management with chairman, Mr, J.T. Richardson; ecretary, Mr. David Forrester and Treasurer Mr. R.C. Pearce. As there were only two continuing elders, six others were chosen; Messrs. Robert Brown, Duncan McGillivray, Daniel Pearce, Jas. Sheepy, Gemmill Hood and ].G. Richardson, who were ordained on July 11th to the office of elders, and with Mr. Alex Ewing and Mr. A.D. McKay, formed the Session. A choir was organized to lead the congregation in the service of Praise. A Sunday School was organized under the leadership of two elders and an efficient teaching staff. The name chosen was Westminster Presbyterian Church. Mr. Jas. A. McKinnon donated his lot at the corner of Queen and Inkerman streets for the new church building and as soon as the weather permitted the men of the congregation gave their labour gratis for preparing the foundation of the church. The laying of the cornerstone of black Scotch granite took place on July 6th. Rev. R.G. McKay, moderator of the Bruce Presbytery, was in charge of the ceremony, assisted by other ministers. A supper was served on Mr. and Mrs. J,A. McArthur's lawn, and Prof. Hay, with choirs from Walkerton and Hanover, gave a sacred Cantata in the Town Hall that evening.

The women of the congregation met on March 10th and organized with the name Westminster Women Workers, all women of the congregation to be members and the constitution that members give of her time, Work and means according to her discretion. Officers elected were; President - Mrs. Clarence Fraser, Secretary - Miss Sarah McCallum, Treasurer - Mrs. Jas. Coulter, Convenor of the flower committee - Miss Belle McKenzie. We began the furnishing for the kitchen by each donating two tea towels the day we organized, and the offering that day enabled us to buy ten dozen teaspoons, and later donations provided for cups, saucers and plates. For the Hrst project, the women in town opened their homes to provide the noon meal for the men who came in to work at the church. Mr. Peter McKinnon gave notice to the women of meals required. Further services were given as the need arose.

The women met at Mrs. J.A. McArthur's home on June 18th 1925 to organize a Women's Missionary Society Auxiliary. Officers elected were; President - Mrs. David Forrester, Treasurer - Miss Sadie jack. Mission Band leader – Miss Nettie Scott, and all other officers of an auxiliary were filled from the fifty-two members. The Anglican and Baptist Churches in fellowship offered the use of their churches for weekday meetings and this meeting place was gratefully accepted until our church was built. This senior auxiliary has held monthly meetings through the years; later, a Young Women's Auxiliary was organized and both auxiliaries carry on with the motto, “The World for Christ".

On December 26th, 1926 the new edifice was opened for public worship and dedicated for the service of God. The morning and evening services were conducted by Rev. Alex. Sheppard assisted by other ministers of Bruce Presbytery. This impressive service will be long remembered in the setting apart of this building for the glory of God and the worship of His people that they may ever press forward toward the high calling of God.

Rev. Peter Mellegers was ordained and inducted into the Presbyterian Church on June 23, 1972. He was bum in the Netherlands, and spent some time in a Netherland Concentration Camp before coming to Canada in 1953. After being in business for over eight years, he studied for the ministry at Ontario Bible College and Calvin College Michigan, where he received his B.A. Then he studied at Knox College in Toronto where he earned his M. Div. degree in theology. He served as a student minister in Duntroon before coming to Paisley in 1972. Rev, and Mrs. Mellegers have two daughters.

List of Ministers since Church Union.

Rev. A.H. Wilson – 1925
Rev. Walter Patterson ~ 1939
Rev. Ernest Smythe – 1943
Rev. Donald Archibald – 1948
Rev. Harold Funston – 1956
Rev. William Knox – 1964
Rev, Peter Mellegers - 1972


Paisley Missionary Church

Submitted by Mrs. Bill Caldwell.

The Paisley Missionary Church had its beginning through the interest of the Port Elgin pastor Rev. A.W. Rees. The first service was held in August41952 in the small auditorium of the community centre and later in the town hall. A Sunday school quickly developed and an afternoon preaching service. By the spring of 1953 the congregation suggested a church building project. Plans were prepared and work began at the end of June. It was on Sunday, Dec. 13, 1953 that the church was dedicated. The growing congregation decided early in 1967 to build an addition to the church building. On Nov. 5, 1967 the new addition was dedicated to the glory of the Lord.

Church services are held each Sunday morning and evening.
Rev. Frank Huson, is the present minister.

List of Ministers since the Church's founding.

Rev. Alfred Rees – 1952
Rev. Earl Prosser ~ 1955
Rev. Donald Pugh – 1957
Rev. David Illman – 1963
Rev. Cecil Rosenberger – 1967
Rev. Frank Huson - 1970

Rev. Frank Huson, Pastor of the Missionary Church was born in England. He came to Canada in 1914. Before entering the ministry he served as Captain in the Salvation An-ny. He has served as pastor in Collingwood, Stratford, Gormley, Toronto, Stouffville, Owen Sound and Altona before coming to Paisley in 1970.

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