Rev. Richard S. V. Crossley – “Was also known to have a bit of a “lead foot” — John Morrow



Here is the story about Rev. Richard S. V. Crossley — from John Morrow:

Reportedly the day in the summer of 1943 when Rev. R. S. V. (Richard Samuel Victor) Crossley and his family moved into St. Paul’s Rectory was scorching hot and several of the men from the parish were helping with the move in (I don’t have any details on who were actually involved but there is a good possibility my uncle, Dave Phillips [Gloria Cardinal’s grandfather] and/or his brother Joe, whose wife was a first cousin of my dad and therefore of his sister-in-law, could have been among them, as they were both members of the parish).

About mid-afternoon Rev. Crossley suggested they all take a break at some tables set up on the lawn between the church and the rectory.

Going to his car he removed a case of beer from the trunk, placing it on the table, along with a package of cigarettes he took from his pocket, telling them “Help yourselves, gentlemen.” He then pulled a pipe from another pocket, filled it with tobacco and lit up. One of the men noted there was an extra bottle of beer in the case and asked what was to be done with it. Rev. Crossley took it out, opened it and started drinking it, leaving the men rather aghast.

When Mr. Crossley asked what seemed to be the problem one of the men replied “We have never had a minister before who smoked or drank,” to which Mr. Crossley replied “You have probably never had a minister who admitted he smoked or drank, and I am not going to be a hypocrite and hide my habits from the parish, or the town.” (This is probably a paraphrase since I heard the story from my dad, who was about 17 at the time.)

His son Richard Jr. and my uncle Albert “Abbie” Morrow (1933-2012) quickly became friends and spent a lot of time together. A story has been told of a euchre game one Sunday night at my grandparents home on Marshall Street with Richard as one of the players. Richard was supposed to have been at church for the evensong service and when his dad noticed him missing he came flying up looking for him. My dad happened to take a break from the game to go to the kitchen for a drink of water and spotted Rev. Crossley’s car coming around the jog between Mercer and Marshall Streets (beside where Augusta Street Park is now). He let Richard know his dad was coming up the street and Richard, who was dealing the cards at the time, completely stuffed them under a diamond-shaped table lamp before his father got in the door, still wearing his vestry robes.

Uncle Abbie wrote an autobiography a couple of years before his death in which he tells of going to a children’s Christmas party at St. Paul’s one time with Richard Jr. and being given a warm welcome by the members of the parish; unfortunately, when the two boys went to the Christmas party at Trinity United Church (our family’s church at the time) Richard was given the cold shoulder, presumably because he was the son of the minister at another non-United church.

Another time Uncle Abbie and Richard were at the rectory when Richard’s younger brother Roland fell into the Mississippi River and Uncle Abbie dove in to rescue him (there was a brief report in the next week’s Gazette [December 4, 1947] about it). When the boys came back into the house Rev. Crossley or his wife sent both boys to bed for a little while and had Uncle Abbie change into dry clothing before being driven home. When they got there Rev. Crossley told my grandparents he had run Uncle Abbie’s clothes through the wringer of the sewing machine.

Rev. Crossley served about 7 years as Rector at St. Paul’s before being transferred to an Ottawa parish. During his time in Almonte he was known to walk around town, especially up or down Mill Street, whistling Mairzy Doats, a popular novelty song which came out around the time he moved to Almonte.

Rev. Crossley was also known to have a bit of a “lead foot”. After his transfer to Ottawa he had to make a trip back to Almonte one day for some reason (possibly some unfinished business), and borrowed Richard Jr.’s MG roadster for the trip. Somewhere around Carp he was clocked by the OPP going well over the speed limit (I think the story I heard was something like 150 mph).

​John Morrow


  1. Page 7 -

    Clipped from

    1. The Ottawa Citizen,
    2. 04 Dec 1943, Sat,
    3. Page 17

About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

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