Ramsay was surveyed in 1820-21, and during 1821 most of it was settled by military settlers from Perth, which were mostly Scottish and Presbyterian. They had no minister until a call was issued in October 1833 to Rev. John Fairbairn.
Ministers had visited Ramsay at times from Perth, Beckwith, and Lanark when baptism and communion services were held in homes, schoolhouses and barns. The following June seventh, elders were chosen. On the 29th the first communion service by their own minister was held in John Gemmill’s house some 158 received communion.
That summer trustees purchased two and a half acres for $12.50 for a church and Cemetery. Begun in 1835, the church was finished in 1836. By 1845 a split in the congregation the Free Church was built across the road from Auld Kirk.
Soon there were four churches: They were the St. Andrew’s Church of Scotland, completed about 1835 and still maintained in its original structural condition. The Canadian or Free Presbyterian church, built ten years later. Three were Presbyterian on the eighth line of Ramsay and the Methodist church. The Reformed Presbyterians were in a log church built in 1843.
An Anglican church in Almonte followed, and the parish of Almonte was separated in about 1860 from that of Carleton Place. A Roman Catholic church built at a Mr. Slattery’s, in Almonte about 1840 was burned down more than twenty-five years later and was replaced by the present stone church building completed in 1876.
The Baptists built a small Almonte church and the township’s Reformed or Cameronian Presbyterians moved their place of services in about 1867 to the former Canadian Presbyterian church on the Eighth Line, later building their present church facing the Mississippi’s Almonte bay.
Then the great move began. In the 1860’s Almonte’s woollen mills were attracting workers, and it became a fast growing community. All the churches moved to Almonte but one. The Reformed Presbyterians bought the Free Church in 1877, remaining until 1891. Before the move to town, people walked to church from all parts of the township.
Did you know that Auld Kirk had a library of 700 to 800 books? Hymn books and organs were not then in use so psalms and paraphrases were sung, led by the precentor with his tuning fork: which was used at the annual Decoration Services. While much beloved as an historic monument and original home of two Almonte congregations, it had been long unused.
In 1933 the high pulpit and seats were brought back from the Pakenham church, a stone floor was laid, a door restored, windows repaired, a new fence and gates built. The cemetery at Auld Kirk is owned by the congregation not by the United Church of Canada, and from the beginning burials have been and are from most Protestant denominations.
“Auld Kirk” 1836
This stone church, an attractive example of an early form of Gothic Revival architecture, was constructed in 1835-36 on land obtain from John Mitchell, one of Ramsay Township’s earliest settlers. Built by the local congregation of the Established Church of Scotland it was also attended by Presbyterians from adjoining townships. The early settlers of Ramsay were visited by ministers from Drummond and Beckwith but in 1834 the first resident minister, the Reverend John Fairburn was inducted. In January 1864, during the ministry of the Reverend John McMorine (1846 – 1867), a new church was opened in nearby Almonte. Although little used since then, the “Auld Kirk” stands as a memorial to the pioneer Presbyterian Settlers.