Author Archives: United Church of Canada Archives

Reverend David Smith

Nomination: Reverend David Smith
Category: Person
Nominated By: Rev. Don MacQueen
Year Commemorated: 2015

Rev. David Smith was born in the parish of Leuchars, County Fife, near St. Andrews, Scotland on July 8, 1732, the ninth of ten children. In the late 1730s, not yet a teenager, David began his studies. In 1749 David Smith was accepted at the University of St. Andrews and undertook his final training for the Burgher ministry under James Fisher, one of the original four, for a periods of four or five years (1752-1756).

David Smith was ordained October 19, 1763 by the Presbyterian Associated Synod, (of which he was elected Moderator in 1768), and became the minister of Hope Park church, St Andrews, Scotland.

In August 1769 the call was issued to Rev. David Smith from the congregation at Londonderry, Nova Scotia, making him the first Presbyterian minister to settle in Canada. He preached his last sermon to the congregation of Hope Park on the 29th of May, 1770.Later he was instrumental in forming the first Presbytery in Canada, Truro Presbytery, and became it’s first clerk or secretary, having had experience at this work in Scotland.

Reverend Daniel Cock

Plaque – Rev. Daniel Cock

Nomination: Reverend Daniel Cock
Category: Person
Nominated By: Rev. Don MacQueen
Year Commemorated: 2016

Reverend Daniel Cock was born at Clydesdale (Scotland) and was ordained minister of Greenock. He was also a professor of divinity at the Associate Synod College. He was elected Moderator in 1755. In August, 1767, he was appointed to America for a year, but did not go. The same year that he arrived in Truro (1770), he returned to Scotland for his family. He was settled in Truro in 1772, and died in 1805.

On the 26th of June, 1772. Rev. Daniel Cock. Rev. David Smith of Londonderry, and Rev.Hugh Graham of Cornwallis met in Mr. Cock’s house in Truro “for prayer and consultation.” It was at this encounter that the first Presbytery meeting was established, however it was not constituted unit the next meeting in August of that year.

Daniel Cock is celebrated as the first moderator of the first presbytery in Canada.

(Annie) May McLachlan

Nomination: (Annie) May MacLachlan
Category: Person
Nominated By: Lynnora M. Catto
Year Commemorated: 2016

May McLachlan was born in Pipestone, Manitoba, in 1895, on a farm near town. She wrote about the evening she became sure that God was calling her to serve on mission field as she watched the sunset from a hill on the farm.

After training in the United Methodist and Presbyterian Training school in Toronto, May arrived in Japan in 1924. Over the years she taught English and Bible at the high school level, lectured at the University, was in charge of several kindergartens and set up specialized groups. She would help with Sunday School and visit in homes, visiting surrounding villages. When war broke out many Canadians returned home but May elected not to, believing these were her brothers and sisters. She was put under house arrest and later repatriated on the Gripsholm in 1942. In Canada, May worked with the internment camp students at Tashme, 14 miles east of Hope, instead studying at Yale. After the war, May returned to Shizuoka in 1947 witness to widespread destruction, misery and poverty. She resolved to live more simply, at the level of the poorest and to do more work in rural areas. May worked in Japan until 1963; upon returning to Canada her compassionate work continued on in United Church communities around Chilliwack until her death in 1991.

Trinity United Church

Front of Trinity United Church

Nomination:Trintiy United Church | Charlottetown, PEI
Category: Place
Nominated By: Katherine Dewar
Year Commemorated: 2017

Known as the “Brick Church,” Trinity United Church in Charlottetown, PEI has been present as a congregation for 150 years. The congregation can trace its roots back to 1774 when Benjamin Chappell started holding Methodist meetings in his home. The first Methodist Church in Charlottetown was built in 1816 but the congregation grew to the point where a larger church was needed. Trinity United Church is one of only three public buildings present in 1864 that are still standing today. As the Fathers of Confederation walked up the street from the boats that brought them to Charlottetown for the first meeting that led to the formation of Canada as a nation,they walked by this church.

In 2014, the 150 Anniversary of that meeting that earned Charlottetown, PEI the title of the Birthplace of Canada, Trinity United Church celebrated its 150th anniversary. It seems fitting that on this, the 150th Birthday of our Nation, that this historic church is recognized for its significance to the church, the community and the country.

In 1910, a brick manse was built adjacent to the church along with a hall, Heartz Hall, to be used for church activities. In 1925, the Methodist Church became part of The United Church of Canada. By 1968 a new Trinity Hall was needed as the demand for space for programming and meetings grew. In 1955, as a memorial gift to honour soldiers from WWI, WWII and the Korean War, a Casavant Freves Pipe Organ was installed with almost 3,000 pipes.

Today, in 2017, Trinity United Church is still an active, progressive and vibrant church. Its complex and auditorium is used by dozens of community groups as well as for church activities. Its outreach to the community is significant. The adjacent Manse houses a Refugee family of 11 people. This church became an Affirming Church in 2016. The weekly church services are broadcast live via Eastlink Television and the services are posted via You Tube the day following the church service.

Formation of Truro Presbytery

Truro Presbytery Crest

Nomination: Formation of Truro Presbytery
Category: Event
Nominated By: Truro Presbytery
Year Commemorated: 2015/2016

Truro Presbytery is the first regularly formed and oldest Presbytery in Canada. It was first organized in 1786 and still continues its work in the United Church of Canada in 2016.

Truro Presbytery is located in central Nova Scotia and today is part of Maritime Conference. Truro Presbytery’s current pastoral charges are located in a number of counties and municipalities in Nova Scotia. These include: Colchester County, Cumberland County, the Municipality of East Hants and the Musquodoboit Valley of Halifax County.

In the summer of 1786, three Presbyterian ministers decided they needed to organize a presbytery in Nova Scotia. These ministers were Rev. Daniel Cock, Rev. David Smith and Rev. Hugh Graham. Distances and recent political events created a need for more local governance and co-operation to help the increasing communities and recently formed churches of the Presbyterian Church in that part of Nova Scotia.

A Tale of Two Centuries: Truro Presbytery, Oldest in Canada by the Truro Presbytery History Committee, Sackville, N.B.: Tribune Press, 1993

On 2 August 1786, the first formal meeting of Truro Presbytery was held at First Presbyterian Church in Truro. Reverend Daniel Cock, Reverend David Smith, Reverend Hugh Graham, Reverend George Gilmore and Reverend James Smith were all involved with worship. There were elders from Truro and Londonderry, congregants from Truro and Onslow and possibly other people in attendance.

Plaque commemorating Daniel Cock (No known pictures). Photo by Don MacQueen.

The business of establishing the framework of the organization of the new Presbytery was also discussed. Reverend Daniel Cock was chosen as Moderator and Reverend David Smith as Clerk.

Model of First Presbyterian Church, Truro, N.S. where first Truro Presbytery meeting was held. Photo by Don MacQueen

When the United Church was formed in 1925, it kept Presbyteries as part of its governance system. The founding of Truro Presbytery 230 years ago and its subsequent long history speaks to the continued influence of the Presbyterian part of its heritage on the United Church. It also speaks to the enduring traditions of Christian ministry and church organization in the United Church of Canada and its antecedent denominations.

For more information please read A Tale of Two Centuries: Truro Presbytery, Oldest in Canada by the Truro Presbytery History Committee, Sackville, N.B.: Tribune Press, 1993 or follow this link to the history section of Truro Presbytery’s website.

Peter Jones

The Mississauga Mission on the Credit River, just west of Toronto, or York as it was then known, Winter of 1826-1827. Originally two families occupied these log cottages with two rooms, each family had their own room. From Egerton Ryerson, “THE STORY OF MY LIFE”, ed. J. George Hodgins

(Toronto: William Briggs, 1883), page 59.

Nomination: Rev. Peter Jones (1802-1856)
Category: Person
Nominated By: Congregation
Year Commemorated: 2016

Peter Jones (1802-1856) or to use his Ojibwe name, Kahkewaquonaby (“Sacred Feathers”), became in 1833 the first ordained Indigenous Methodist minister in what is now Canada. Thanks to him, and to other Aboriginal Methodist workers, a solid First Nations Methodist Church was established in southern Ontario in the 1820s and 1830s.

The last known image of Peter Jones, sketched probably in the early 1850s. The illustration appears as the frontispiece in his LIFE AND JOURNALS OF KAH-KE-WA-QUON-NA-BY (Rev. Peter Jones), Wesleyan Missionary (Toronto: Published by Anson Green in the Wesleyan Printing Establishment, 1860)

Peter Jones was born in 1802, the son of Augustus Jones, a retired surveyor, of Welsh background, born and raised in what is now New York State. Peter’s mother was Tuhbenahneequay (Sarah Henry), a daughter of Wahbanosay, the Mississauga (Ojibwe) chief at the Head of the Lake (present-day Hamilton). Peter grew up with his mother’s people in an Ojibwe world to the age of fourteen. He later spent the next seven years with his father learning English and how to farm.

After his conversion to Christianity in 1823 the bilingual and bicultural Mississauga become a Methodist church worker with Ojibwe people of the Great Lakes. He worked to help them become farmers. With his brother John he completed several of the earliest translations of the Bible into Ojibwe. He was elected a chief of the Mississaugas of the Credit.

To raise money for the Methodist missions in Upper Canada, as Ontario was then known, he made three fund-raising tours of Britain. He met his future wife, Eliza Field, on the first. They married in 1833. She became his lifelong ally. As a chief he defended First Nations land rights, and worked to obtain a full and equal partnership between the First Nations and non-Aboriginal settlers. His Life and Journals (1860) and History of the Ojebway Indians (1861) were published posthumously, after his death in 1856.

Stella Burry

Portraits Collection, “Stella Burry” 76.001P780, United Church of Canada Archives.

Nomination: Stella Burry (1897-1991)
Category: Person
Nominated By: Congregation
Year Commemorated: 2014

Stella Annie Burry was born in Greenspond, Bonavista Bay, Newfoundland, on August 11, 1897.

At a time when getting an education was considered secondary for girls, Burry’s mother was insistent that Stella obtain a good education. She attended the Methodist school in Greenspond.

Burry had first heard of being a deaconess in Greenspond from her minister, the Rev Ezra Boughton. She wanted to be a missionary, but Boughton introduced her to the calling of “deaconess” and gave her material about the Methodist Training School in Toronto.

Before going to Toronto she spent a few years furthering her education at Memorial College in St John’s in order to become a teacher. While in St. John’s, she attended Gower Street Methodist Church. And it was there she met Frances Main, a deaconess, with Gower Street Church.

Burry gained experience in the practical aspects of deaconess work: visiting the sick and shut-ins, sharing in Bible class and Girls’ Club activities. Burry resolved that someday she would be a deaconess.

In 1923 she moved to Toronto and attended the Methodist Training School (now the Centre for Christian Studies). In addition to their traditional Christian education courses, she studied at the School of Social Work and at Victoria University, also in Toronto. In her second year she had an awakening: she now viewed the disadvantaged not as victims needing charity but as persons with potential that could be fulfilled, given the basic needs of life and opportunities. It is what Stella Burry called a “hand-up” instead of a “hand-out.”

In 1937 she was persuaded by Rev Oliver Jackson, Superintendent of Home Missions for Newfoundland, to return home to work. In autumn 1938, she found offices in the old Star building on the corner of Adelaide Street and New Gower Street in downtown St John’s. She introduced herself to the Public Health and Welfare Office and did a survey of the resources of the community in relation to health and child welfare, finding these were meagre. She had over 200 families on her list and she visited them all.

Burry knew that the people she served wanted to help themselves and to develop skills and abilities. Aware that the women were good cooks, good knitters and sewers, and were only lacking the goods to work with, she set up sewing groups, knitting groups, and cooking groups where women were supplied with materials.

She also arranged for 28 families to grow their own vegetables, either on their own or through a community garden on land owned by the Presentation Convent nuns (probably one of the first ecumenical endeavours in St John’s).

The original community centre burned down in 1945, briefly interrupting the operation of the programme.

A committee of church lay people raised the money to secure another property and the Women’s Missionary Society provided the maintenance grant. It was named the United Church House: A Community Centre and Young Women’s Hostel.

Portraits Collection, “Miss Stella Burry, Emmanuel House, St. John’s, Nfld.” 76.001P781, United Church of Canada Archives.

Burry hoped the new centre would be a place where young women from the outports of Newfoundland could have a safe, affordable place to stay while they worked or studied in St John’s.

Emmanuel House flourished under Burry’s leadership. For young women it was a “home away from home”; for the disadvantaged it was a haven of comfort, support, and encouragement; and for Burry it was a stronger base from which to lobby from and advocate for policy changes to benefit the poor.

She established the first United Church Youth Camp at Jackson House, Western Bay, in 1942. It was re-located in the early 1950s to Shoe Cove, just outside St John’s, and renamed Burry Heights in her honor.

Stella Burry died in 1991

Formation of the United Church of Canada (1925)

Denominational Group Photograph Collection, “[Commissioners and delegates attending the inaugural service of the United Church of Canada held in Mutual Street Arena], Toronto,” 92.185P330N, United Church of Canada Archives.

Nomination: Formation of the United Church of Canada (1925)
Category: Event/Intangible Culture
Nominated By: Community
Year Commemorated: 2014

The United Church of Canada is the largest Protestant denomination in Canada. We minister to over 2 million people in about 3,000 congregations across the country. Ours is a rich history closely entwined with the development of Canada itself.

The spirit of fellowship, which has always been distinctive of Canadian life, found expression in the political union of Canada in 1867, and in a succession of unions within various branches of the Christian church from 1817 to the early years of the twentieth century

The United Church was inaugurated on June 10, 1925 in Toronto, Ontario, when the Methodist Church, Canada, the Congregational Union of Canada, and 70 per cent of the Presbyterian Church of Canada entered into an organic union. Joining as well was the small General Council of Union Churches, centred largely in Western Canada. It was the first union of churches in the world to cross historical denominational lines and hence received international acclaim. Impetus for the union arose out of the concerns for serving the vast Canadian northwest and in the desire for better overseas mission. Each of the uniting churches, however, had a long history prior to 1925.

For more detailed history please view this well-loved article from The Manual details the process behind the formation of The United Church of Canada.

Hay Bay Church

Ontario Churches and Institutions Photograph Collection, “People leaving the Hay Bay Methodist Church” 90.162P006, United Church of Canada Archives.

Nomination: Hay Bay Church
Category: Place
Nominated By: Individual
Year Commemorated: 2014

Old Hay Bay Church is the oldest Methodist Church in Canada. This rural two-acre property and adjacent graveyard overlook Hay Bay, near Adolphustown, Ontario. It currently stands containing displays and interpreters and is still used for an annual worship service on the fourth Sunday afternoon every August.

Ontario Churches and Institutions Photograph Collection, “Congregation outside Hay Bay Methodist Church” 90.162P004N, United Church of Canada Archives.

The church was first built in 1792 as a meeting house in the early days of Upper Canadian settlement when communities were small and isolated, and waterways were the main form of transportation. Its pioneer meeting house character is greatly reinforced by its site and the unspoilt rural setting. The church was conceived as a public space used for both secular and religious meetings although its internal arrangements reflected its religious priorities. Despite some changes, the church still retains the essential characteristics of the pre-1840 evangelical meeting house, as it was developed in Britain, New England and modified in Upper Canada. Enlarged in 1835, Old Hay Bay Church closed as a regular place of worship in 1860 and becoming a farm storage area. In 1910 it was reacquired and restored by the Methodist Church. It is still used for annual services by the United Church of Canada.