Meeting Minutes - Robert White: Stone Churches of Downtown Guelph - Dec.7th 2017
The December 7th meeting was called to order by President Ed Herold at 9:55 am with 45 members present. He welcomed everyone present with a special welcome to today’s guest speaker, Robert White. President Herold announced that Len Bickerton had been approved as a new member at the last Board meeting on December 5th and welcomed Len to the Club.
Announcements - President Herold announced that the Board was introducing a new method of attempting to increase retention by having past-presidents solicit veteran members to have the veteran members take on the responsibility of greeting new members and engaging them in the meetings and “skippering” them along until the new member feels comfortable in the membership.
Christmas Luncheon – David Wallace - today is the last day to sign-up for the Christmas Luncheon; - If anyone is able to a donate door prize(s) for the luncheon, please bring them to the luncheon. - the menu for the luncheon is excellent, it is a friendly-social event, and music will be played by the “Arkellites.”
January Meetings – Ed Herold - For those not going to luncheon next week, there will be a coffee-group gathering at the Airpark Cafe or the Boathouse and this will be the last one at the Boathouse until next spring; - January 4th 2018 will be a coffee-group gathering and it will be at the Symposium Restaurant on Stone Rd. behind the Petro Canada Station and the Airpark Cafe - the first Membership Meeting in the new year will be on January 11, 2018 with guest presenter, Jim Estill, on the Syrian refugees in Canada. Mr. Estill has personally sponsored 50 refugee families in Guelph.
Julian Sale introduced today’s guest speaker, Mr. Robert White.
Robert White is an award-winning author, journalist and photographer with bylines in local, regional, and national publications in both the mainstream and religious press. Robert’s writing interests range from history (The Stone Churches of Downtown Guelph and The Mac: Edmonton’s Historic Hotel Macdonald with Sara Baxter, inspirational Chasing the Wind: Finding Meaningful Answers from Ancient Wisdom, winner of the 2010 Word Alive Press publishing contest, and drama Meet You at the Manger, and The Waiting Room. Robert and his wife, Pam, live in Guelph, and have two adult children. He is a member of the Lakeside Downtown congregation and recently resigned after completing 20-plus years as a volunteer with Scouts Canada.
Robert White – The Stone Churches of Downtown Guelph (For slides of Mr. White’s presentation, see the RCMC website under links).
Mr. White has an interest in both photography and history and producing this book combined his two interests. He wanted to share his compilation of pictures and research with a broader base of people.
Robert limited his project to the original churches of what was initially downtown Guelph and represented the beginning of the history of Guelph’s faith-based community. These churches represent the best of 19th century architecture. Most of them are built in neo-gothic revival style.
Downtown churches in general are quickly disappearing from the landscape. In other communities, as these churches age, some are being turned into other businesses or are being torn down. To repair them is becoming quite expensive and some of the crafts- or trades-people who built or repair them are also beginning to disappear. People who do these repairs are often so few that they are having to be brought in from far afield. So, it was Robert White’s hope that this book would help preserve some of the history of these Guelph churches.
The following excerpts are taken directly from Robert White’s book.
Guelph Lakeside Downtown Church – built 1855 • The cornerstone for current building—one of largest in southwestern Ontario at the time—was laid on April 23, 1855; • 1925 – Wesleyan Methodist, after formation of the United Church of Canada, church becomes known as Norfolk Street United Church; • 2012 – the Norfolk Street United Church congregation sells building to Lakeside Church for HOPE House community outreach program; • 2014 – Lakeside Downtown congregation launched; • 1917 to 1921 – Rev. Edwin Pearson, father of Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson, served as pastor.
St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church – built 1857 – 1858 • Home to the oldest congregation in the city – began in 1828; • Construction on the current Gothic-revival building, designed by William Hay, began in June 1857; • 2017 – an August lighting strike hits steeple. Fire causes iron rooster weather vane to fall off, vestibule suffers water damage. Rooster replaced in November; • Home church of the McCrae family, including Guelph native Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae, author of “In Flanders Fields.”
Knox Presbyterian Church – built 1868 • 1843 – Reverend Thomas Chalmers and around 400 members leave St. Andrew’s Church in disagreement around church principles and practices; • 1868 – construction begins on building, designed by architect James Avon Smith of Toronto; • 1901 – renovations include installation of a new pipe organ (rear of the building pushed back to accommodate it), new floor, gallery front, circular seating and gas lighting.
Royal City Church – completed 1871 • 1860s – began when members of Knox Presbyterian Church, upset over a divide in the church union, left and hired architect Henry Langley to design and build a new church; • Two unique requests: 1) members wanted Langley to model new church after Knox Church in Montreal; and 2) use matched grey granite for the church’s façade instead of limestone; • 1925 – became one of the Presbyterian congregations to join the United Church of Canada when it was formed; • 2005 – Chalmers congregation sells building to Royal City Church, part of the Evangelical Missionary Church in Canada.
First Baptist Church – built 1872 • 1872 – land purchased land and cornerstone laid. Services began in the church basement in 1873 and by 1875 the building was completed and dedicated; • 1959 – steeple was removed after inspection revealed deterioration inside the beams. A flat roof was constructed to cover the top of the stone tower; • 1963 – a fire in May destroyed the sanctuary, including a two-manual Casavant organ that had been dedicated in 1920, and damaged the rest of the building; • 1964 – rebuilt church, including an installation of a new 3-manual electronic Allen organ, the largest of its kind in Canada at the time, is rededicated.
St. George’s Anglican Church – built 1873 • 1862 – congregation moved from building on St. George’s Square to site ordered by Woolwich Street and the Speed River. Church designed by prolific Toronto architect Henry Langley in a High Victorian Gothic design.
Basilica of Our Lady Immaculate – built 1877 to 1926 • 1860s – Construction for a larger building begins but abandoned after a $20,000 debt accumulates; • 1874 – architect Joseph Connolly was appointed to design the Church of Our Lady Immaculate. Sod turned in July 1876 and cornerstone was laid a year later; • 1888 – the Church of Our Lady Immaculate was dedicated; • 1908 to 1926 – altar erected, walls painted with murals and stained-glass windows installed; Casavant Frères organ added in 1919; and the exterior of the church was finished in 1926.
Following his presentation, Mr. White responded to questions from the membership about this project and book.
Julian Sale thanked Robert White and presented him with a token of appreciation from the Club.