HOW CHRISTIE STREET GOT ITS NAME
by Chris Redmond
The street that connects Coleman Street to the new subdivision near Walmart has a name now: Christie Street, in honour of a young man who played an unusual role in the history of Carleton Place before he died in battle in 1917.
He was John H. H. (for Hatchell Halliday) Christie, who came to the town, and to Canada, to be a student minister at the Methodist Church on Franklin Street (what’s now Zion-Memorial United Church). He was born in Ireland, in a village called Glenavy in County Antrim, and interrupted his studies to cross the ocean to help meet an urgent need.
It was a difficult time for churches in Canada, with the population growing faster than the church leadership could find ministers to look after them. The problem was worst in the western provinces, and would continue until three denominations merged to create
the United Church in 1925, but the shortage hit home in Carleton Place when Dr. J. H. Sparling, the well-liked Methodist minister, died suddenly. (To be precise, he dropped dead while out on a bicycle ride.)
The best that could be arranged for a replacement was John Christie, the 23-year-old student who came over to serve as the congregation’s minister. He was quickly very popular, perhaps especially with the mothers of daughters, and he was well known
for his charming tenor voice. Someone noted that one of his favourite hymns was “When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder”. But World War I was starting, and within a year the roll call he was answering was that of the Canadian Army Medical Corps. He headed back across the Atlantic with the Canadian Expeditionary.
Force; starting out as a private, he was soon a corporal, then commissioned as a lieutenant, and in early 1917 he was assigned to the 2nd Canadian Mounted Rifles. Within three weeks he was dead, killed near the village of Givenchy-en-Gohelle during the Battle of Vimy Ridge in April 1917.
John Christie was one of five young men from Carleton Place who never returned from Vimy. He and other fallen soldiers were remembered at a service in the Methodist Church, where the four men’s photos were displayed at the front of the sanctuary, wrapped in a Union Jack. His body was buried in La Chaudière military cemetery near Vimy.
2nd Canadian Mounted Rifles Battalion
10th April 1917, aged 25.
Plot VII. C. 2.
Son of the Rev. William John Christie and Emma Jane Halliday Christie, of Barnbidge, Ireland.
It took until 1918 before the Methodist church found a new minister. After the war, in the 1920s, the area near the corner of Franklin and Beckwith Streets, which had been standing empty since Carleton Place’s great fire in 1910, was developed as Memorial Park. And when the Cenotaph was put up there, one of the names engraved on it was that of the Rev. John Christie.
Newspaper Clipping – From the Perth Courier for 4 May 1917
Lt. Rev. John Hatchell Halliday Christie was 25 years of age when he lost his life on the second day of the Battle at Vimy Ridge. He too is buried in a Canadian war cemetery in France.