A freak electrical storm, accompanied by a veritable cloud burst that lasted for about ten minutes and then settled down to a tapering off rain, started a little after seven o’clock on Monday evening. The late afternoon had been oppressive with a humid heat that presaged a thunderstorm or perhaps hail.
Dark clouds blew up from the Huntley Township direction and others from the southeast seemed to meet in an overhead area and then things got going with hair-raising flashes of lightning and ear-splitting peals of thunder. A few minutes after the storm broke and two or three crashes and flashes frightened people off their front porches, the fire siren was heard. The firemen had to turn out in the midst of one of the worst downpours of rain anyone can remember.
The phone call to the fire station stated that the steeple of the Reformed Presbyterian Church on the Bay Hill had been struck by lightning and that smoke was pouring from its base. Firemen had water turned on in record time. They had to chop a hole in the wooden portion of the tower to get at the flames. The spire is covered with steel as is the roof. No great damage was done to the interior of the building as the tower was cut off from below by closed trap doors.
The storm was accompanied by a high wind that uprooted trees, littered lawns with limbs and cut off the power in the southern side of the town where branches fell across the wires. A strange thing about the visitation is that on the north side of the river there was little or no interference with the light service but there was a black-out on the business streets. Those stores which keep open in the evenings such as druggists’ were dark except for the odd candle or flashlight.
In the O’Brien Theatre it wasn’t hard to live up to the ancient slogan “the show must go on.” In the days of the power shortage during the last war the Ottawa Valley Amusement Co. installed gasoline driven electrical generators in their four theatres. So all the local manager had to do was turn on the machinery and the audience which happened to have got there ahead of the storm, were kept entertained.
It seemed strange on the pitch dark street to see the O’Brien main entrance lights and the sign blazing out like lone beacons. It is said that in the Legion and Hotel Almonte beverage room the boys quaffed their beer by lantern or candle light which imparted a sort of Old Country atmosphere to the places that is not present under ordinary circumstances.
A softball game was going on at the time the storm broke and those in the grandstand had a splendid view of the lightning as it flashed in the distance across the river, and sometimes too close for comfort. At least one member of the audience—a fireman—had to plunge forth into the deluge when the siren blew.
A strange thing about the rainfall, which some middle aged people declare was the heaviest they ever remember, is that there were only a few drops at the Auld Kirk Cemetery on the Eighth Line while the Anglican Cemetery, half way out from the town boundary, was in the very wet zone.
It is not known what capers were cut by the storm but it is known that it was not bad in Ottawa and while they had a heavy rain in Perth and other points in the county there was no severe storm. The maintenance staff of the Almonte Public Utilities Commission had to turn out in the midst of the downpour as did the firemen. They had a mean job but they got the lights on in the business section about 8.30, for which they deserve a lot of credit when the amount of damage to the wires over a wide section is taken into consideration.
They went off several times after that for short intervals and doubtless the electricians had to work nearly all night trying to repair the damage. From the standpoint of power users on the south side of the
river, it was fortunate that the storm struck in the evening when motors and machinery were closed down.
Several large trees on Country Street in front of the home of Mr. Robt. Smithson, town foreman, were uprooted. It is estimated he will get five or six cords of wood out of the trunks and limbs although there is no doubt he would rather have the trees standing where they were. A fine big maple was uprooted in front of the residence of Mr. Gordon Houston.
The story is told of one merchant on Mill Street who was creeping around his premises in the darkness holding a flashlight. Suddenly he came in front of a mirror and yelled, “help, help, there’s a robber in here!”
Zion United Church, CarletonPlace, was practically destroyed in an early morning fire last Sunday. The loss is estimated at $150,000 according to present day values. Insurance of $35,000 was carried. It is understood the congregation has decided to rebuild the edifice in spite of the fact that there is another United Church in the town as is the case in Almonte.
The caretaker of the church discovered the fire when he went to stoke the furnace about five o’clock in the morning. As he was about to leave the main body of the building at 6.45 he saw smoke curling up behind the pipe organ and when he went to investigate he found that end of the church in flames. It is thought the fire started in the boiler room because the room from which the flames broke out is located directly over the heating plant.
In the battle to quell the fire which followed one new member of the Ocean Wave brigade, Ken Drummond, was injured by a falling piece of masonry. His back was badly bruised. Another had a nail puncture through his foot. Rev. E. C. Kelloway is pastor of the church which has a membership of some 300. It is understood that an invitation to worship at Memorial Park United Church, temporarily, was passed over in favor of services in the town hall.
Mr. H. R. Davey, local contractor and planing mill operator, was engaged on Wednesday to take lumber to the scene of the fire and make temporary repairs to the shattered roof. Mr. Davey found that the floor of the church was partly intact under a heavy layer of debris and ashes. The fine basement was not too badly damaged.
At that time this was Memorial Park United Church. Zion United Church was where the condo’s now are at the corner of Albert and Beckwith. When they united they became Zion Memorial United Church. The church in the picture was never Zion United Church.
A point of correction. When that fire occurred the United Church, Zion and Memorial Park had not amalgamated. The fire occurred on a Saturday afternoon when most of the young boys who chased the fire trucks were occupied at the Roxy Theatre with the Saturday afternoon matinee, yours truly included. After the movie ended, we all left the theatre and tore down to Judson Street to watch the OWFC in action…
The church which burned in 1950, was Zion United Church, which was formerly Zion Presbyterian Church until it became Zion United at church Union in 1925. Memorial Park Methodist Church, became Memorial Park United Church in 1925. Memorial Park burned a few years later in the mid 1950’s and was restored. The two churches amalgamated to Zion Memorial about 1965 when the Memorial Park building became the sanctuary and the Zion building became the Christian Education building until it was sold some time after 1970.
in 1888 St. George’s severed the connection with Almonte and became united with St. John’s Church at Boyd’s now known as St. John’s Church, Innisville. And for the first time the records state “that St. George’s Clayton and St. John’s Innisville, were made into a separate parish under the rectorship of Rev. John Osborne.”
However in 1888 they severed the connection with Almonte and became united with St. John’s Church at Boyd’s now known as St. John’s Church, Innisville. And for the first time the records state “that St. George’s Clayton and St. John’s Innisville, were made into a separate parish under the rectorship of Rev. John Osborne.”
In his diary, Rev. William Bell, first Presbyterian minister in Perth, speaks of Armstrong’s Corners, the hotel, the blacksmith shop, and the first winter road across the black ash swamp. He also reports the serious accident he experienced during February, 1857. Driving a borrowed horse and cutter to Lanark, the horse ran away while going down the steep hill at Stanley’s and struck a stump with such violence as to break the shafts from the cutter. Mr. Bell was thrown against the stump, cutting his scalp. He reported in his diary that four men rushed from Mr. Armstrong’s blacksmith shop and carried him into the house where his wound was dressed by Mr. McNichol and Mr. Armstrong lent him new shafts and harness which enabled him to drive back to Perth– read more here..Where was Prestonvale?
Feb. 28, 1873 – Last Saturday the corpse of D. McPherson, who had lived in this section for 29 years, came into the Union House from the Mattawa. Mr. McPherson had been dead for over three weeks but until Saturday no means of bringing his body for interment could be found. It appears that he had been working in some of the shanties where his services were no longer required and he was provided with and a quantity of money. On his way here he got on a ‘spree’ in which condition he kept himself until his pocket was empty. From some of the numerous effects of that fatal cup he died and this adds another to the long list of deaths from strong drink. Deceased was over 50 years of age and was interred at Prestonvale Cemetery.
Thanks Rose Mary Sarsfield–The old church referred to here would have been the Ramsay Free Church. According to Winston MacIntoshin “The Wind Bloweth where it Listeth” there are few early records of this church. It was known as the Eighth Line Canada Presbyterian Church. It was located WLot 15 Con 8. This would be kitty corner to the Auld Kirk. The first minister was defrocked for lasciviousness. The third minister was Rev. Wm. McKenzie father of Tait MacKenzie. During his pastorate the St. John’s Presbyterian Church which is still in use in Almonte was built. The attached water colour sketch was done by Tait MacKenzie about 1888Ramsay Free Church and Manse, located on lot 15, concession 8, Ramsay Township.The manse is still being used as a private residence today, but the church has gone. You can see the church to the left of the manse in the picture. These buildings were built around 1840 – 1850.
THE RAMSAY FREE CHURCH COMMUNION ROLL — 1846
Published in the LCGS newsletter, November, 1996.Surnames have been put in bold type to aid viewing. The list is presented here as published. It seems to show the names in family groupings, thus the names have not been sorted alphabetically.THE RAMSAY FREE CHURCH OR CANADA PRESBYTERIAN CHURCHThese people seceded from the Church of Scotland, the Auld Kirk in 1845 and in 1846 built the Free Church, a large frame plaster cast Church on Lot 15 West Concession 8, across the corner from the Auld Kirk. The church was destroyed by fire in 1926. It had been used as a barn. The manse, a white frame house still stands and was long used as a farm dwelling. In it Dr. Robert Tait McKENZIE was born and later it was the dwelling of Mr. & Mrs. Wm. ALLEN, Mr. David WILSON and Mr. & Mrs. Kenneth McGREGOR.The ministers who lived there were: 1846 – 185 Rev. Wm. G. JOHNSTON 1853 – 185 Rev. James SMITH 1859 – 1868 Rev. Wm. McKENZIE 1870 – 1874 Rev. Howard STEELE 1875 – 1890 Rev. Robert KNOWLES at Blakeney and ClaytonWhen St. John’s Church was opened in 1868 services were continued in the church on the 8th line, but in a few years it was decided by the Ramsay Presbyterians to close it and a church was built in 1873 in Clayton and one in Blakeney in 1876. The Free Church building was sold to the Reformed Presbyterian Church in 1876 and used until 1891.This story on the Ramsay Free Church was documented several years ago as a New Horizons Project of the North Lanark Historical Society.Rev. Wm. G. JOHNSTONE, first minister click here to read the rest http://lcgsresourcelibrary.com/articles/A-RAMSAY.HTM
Marilyn Vallentyne GendronYes of course, now I recognize this house, it’s not on the corner of the Wolfe grove and county road 8, it’s up from the corner on the left hand side on the 8th line. We were living in the house on the corner (the old manse) when Hugh and Liz Findlay bought this house probably from Grant Campbell who bought the farm farm Ken McGregor. Grant split up the farm house to have the acres and barn for the horses, so now you know the rest of the story.
BY “WHB” July 2 1926–Almonte Gazette
A foundation of historic interest was destroyed in the early hours of Friday morning ( July1,1926) when a barn, belonging to Mr. D. Wilson of the 8th Line of Ramsay, went up in smoke. This barn, where yesterday the fatted calf- disported himself, was once the place of penitence for the prodigal himself, for it was originally a church.
The ‘Great ‘Disruption in Scotland in 1843 directed the congregation of the Auld Kirk at the 8th Line; and part of that congregation, when it went out or was locked out of a church meeting during the Disruption festivities, organized a church of its own affiliated with the Free Church of Scotland. The building burnt on Friday was their church until the one now occupied by the Continuing Presbyterians was built in Almonte in the early 60’s. A graveyard was opened alongside of the old Free Church; but as the soil was not well adapted for burial purposes it was soon abandoned, and many of the bodies interred there were removed to other cemeteries.
This writer’s recollection of his first church service is that of one in the old Free Church when Rev. Mr. Steele was the minister. With other lads I walked to church barefooted, carrying shoes and stockings until the Tannery creek was reached, where linal ablutions and dolling-up were made. Little is now remembered of the service itself save that it. seemed very long, although it was divided into two parts by an intermission for lunch. Grace before and after meat as if saintly elders would have done. The Precentor with his tuning fork, as he stood up beside the pulpit to raise the tune, attracted my attention at once and well do I remember his frowning impatience with those leisurely wailers who persisted in tailing off half a line or so behind him and the bulk of the congregation in the singing of the long-metre melodies he appeared to favor.
The Caretaker was another interesting official to the country boy, for he had enviable foresight into which dogs had thoroughbred training on oatmeal. Pity the caretaker could not have exercised his remarkaible, powers of discrimination upon church members then and since, for he might have prevented many a church squabble. Taking up the collection was a fearsome ceremony. A long pole, at the end of which dangled a bag looking like a weatherbeaten wasps nest, was passed along the length of the pew, lifted over the heads of the worshippers to those in the next pew, and hauled back again to the aisle. The lady at the far end had to bow her head, in prayer perhaps, to save her bonnet being knocked off, and those across the aisle had to be on the alert to avoid being punched in the eye, by the end of the pole on its return trip.
Church-going was a sort of community reunion in those days, for everyone from babe’to grandsire helped to make “a great turn-oot on the Sawbbath.” Singly or in groups, from far and near they came, on foot, on horseback, and in wagon loads. With other gaping rustics ranged around I was filled with wonder and admiration by the appearance at church that day of a double-buggy — shining varnished (body, polished hub-caps, soup-ladle steps to the seats, real silver-mounted buggy harness on the prancing horses, and everything. Be-whiskered elders’ heads wagged- in grieved disapproval of such a display of finery at a place of worship; but I wonder what those saintly elders would have done if per of to-day had a daring flapper swept up to the church door in her limousine with her shapely silk-stockinged limbs draped gracefully over the windshield? Probably some think like what they did do at the advent of the double-buggy; retire to the privacy of the vestry to soothe their jangled nerves with a “wee drappie,” and to ponder over the vanity of human life and what the world is coming to.
But the old graveyard is neglected and overgrown, the church has vanished in smoke, even the “wee-drappie” is gone and little now is left to remind us of the seriousness in churchgoers in the old good old days save possibly the odor of sanctity of the smoke that may mingle arising from the ashes of the members of the old church.
On the last day of December in 1894 on Saturday afternoon Mr. and Mrs. Graham Forgie that lived on the 11th line of Ramsay, were driving home from Almonte. The team became unmanageable as they began their journey and finally ran away when they were on the outskirts of the town.
During the latter half of the 1800s, Ontario roads were in a serious state of neglect and deterioration. Historians call this the “dark age of the road” where roads were being uploaded and downloaded among levels of government. Roads were opened, roads were abandoned. But this would begin to change in the 1890s—when the first automobiles appeared
Mr. and Mrs. Forgie were thrown out of the buggy on a fence. Mr. Forgie escaped with a few bruises, but Mrs. Forgie was injured badly. Her breast bone and several ribs were fractured, and she was unconscious for some time. She is still in a serious state, and suffers so much that the poor woman was kept almost constantly under the influence of morphine. Dr. Hanley, who is attending Mrs. Forgie, says she is seriously injured, but is doing as well as could be expected They were also members of the The Ramsay Free Church and the congregation is praying for her.
Rose Mary SarsfieldIt was a Free Church which was a breakaway group from the Church of Scotland (Auld Kirk) Presbyterians. The picture at the top is a painting done by Robert Tait McKenzie. His father Rev. Wm. McKenzie was an early minister in the Free Church. It was on the right hand side going to Carleton Place across the Wolf Grove road from the Auld Kirk.
Rev. Dr. Grant, accompanied by Rev. D. McDonald, M.A., and Robt. Bell, Esq., descended from the St. Andrew’s to the platform prepared for them, and under a perfect torrent of rain, which scattered a number of people to places of shelter, proceeded to the important ceremony.
Mr. Bell laid in the cavity of the foundation stone a glass jar, in which was the programme of laying the stone, & list of the church officers, historical sketch of the church, the copper and silver coins of the Dominion, Canadian postage stamps of every denomination, the Canadian Almanac, and copies of newspapers. The jar had been corked, sealed with, wax, then covered with lead and fastened with wire; it is guaranteed to last for 500 years. The jar was wrapped in paper, the crevices filled with mortar, ‘and the large stone placed over it by the contractors, Messrs. W. & G. Willoughby, the Rev. Principal also having his hand in the work. The stone being placed, a short blessing was asked, and the people rushed to Zion church out of the pelting rain, where addresses were delivered.
Interior of St. Andrew’s Church, Carleton Place, Lanark County, Ontario
Hi Linda. I was going through some old pictures and thought you might like this one. I may have sent it to you before? I had been reading your article about the history of the e church . My grandmother, Eliza McRostie, is in the back row on the right. Unfortunately, I don’t have names for anyone else.Joan Halpenny.
Donna Sweeney LowryIt looks very much like the hall in St. Andrews Presbyterian Church, before there were removable partitions put up to divide the space into classrooms. And those are the dishes St.Andrews used.
A stranger coming into Almonte from the junction of Highways 29 and 44. 33 miles from Ottawa, it very likely to ask the first person he meets this question: “Say, what Is that quaint little church we pass halfway down the hill on the right-hand side of the road coming into town?”
The man at the gas pump or the waitress in the restaurant will tell him “That’s the Cameronian Church and it’s the only one in Canada.” This is a startling statement and the stranger cannot be blamed if he takes it with a grain of salt. Not now, but in less than a generation hence it could indeed be absolutely true which is a hard thing for any Christian willingly to want to prophesy.
The history, of this church is a story of the almost unbelievable , rectitude, integrity- sad-courage of a small group of God-fearing people. But the stranger will get very little information more than the accommodating waitress gave him, unless by chance he happened to meet a member of the congregation.
Perhaps some citizen who wished to appear very knowledgable might inform him:
They have no music in their church service and I mean no instrumental music, like piano or organ they just Sing the Psalms, no hymns. Strictly they’re Covenanters. I think- that’s it. The stranger is impressed and makes a mental note to tell the folks back home. This pretty church on the ‘ hillside which has always been known as the Cameronian Church by the people in Almonte is a Reformed Presbyterian-Church and the correct designation Is the Almonte Congregation of the Reformed Presbyterian Church–and in spite of popular opinion, it is not the only Reformed Presbyterian Church in Canada– not quite. But there is only one other.
It is at Lochiel, a crossroads near the village of Glen Sandfield in Glengarry County. True, there are a couple of mission stations in the Maritimesand there used to be a church in Toronto and one in Winnpeg but they no longer function as distinct congregations. As the congregation at Lochiel is considerably smaller than that at Almonte, it Is quite possible that some years away the statement that the Almonte Cameronian Church is the only one in Canada could indeed be true.
However, there is no question about it being the only Reformed Presbyterian , Church in Canada called the Cameronian Church. There are Reformed Presbyterian Churches in scattered regions of the United States, but none of them is known as Cameronian. Nor is its sister church at Lochiel in Canada known by any other name than Reformed Presbyterian.
In fact the present minister of the Church Rev. Robert More, Jr., who has done extensive research, on the Reformed Presbyterian Church In North . America, and has recently done the script for a film on the history’of the Church says this church is the only one in North America properly designated as Cameronian.
Why are the Almonte Covenanters or Reformed Presbyterians called Cameronians? It is a carry-over from the early Scotch Presbyterian settlement’ in the Ottawa Valley. It was simply that their neighbours persisted in calling these ever-faithful adherents to the Church of their fathers by the name Cameronian– and for a very good reason, too.
Most of the settlers belonged to the Church of Scotland or to a Secession Church, but there were a few faithful in the hills and glens of Scotland. Attendance at the Established Church was obligatory under heavy penalties enforced by magistrates, and dissenting Covenanter preachers were obliged to hold their services (conventicles) in the wilds.
One of these preachers was a man named Richard Cameron. A squad of Government soldiers hunted Richard Cameron’s small band of Dissenters through the wild country of Dumfries and Ayr and finally caught up with them. The small group of worshippers were poorly armed and outnumbered, but being Scots, they resolved to fight.
They fought desperately but were overpowered by numbers; the members of the little group were either killed or taken prisoner. Richard Cameron and his brother Michael died fighting. The head and hands of Richard were cut off, taken to Edinburgh fixed to the Netherbow Port with the hands stretched out in the attitude of prayer.
In those days they were thorough in such grisly undertakings. “There,” said one of the soldiers, pointing tip at the head, “There’s the head and hands that lived praying and preaching, and died praying and fighting.
It is now nearly 370 years since Richard Cameron was slain in that brief but desperate-encounter. Yet today his name lives in Almonte when the descendants of the early Scottish settlers still refer to that small church, known as the Cameronian Church. So, whether we call these faithful people Reformed Presbyterians, Covenanters or Cameronians, their Church is certainly one unique in Canada.
In Carleton Place there were two Presbyterian Church buildings, both on William Street. That of the Cameronian Reformed Presbyterians had been built in the 1840’s. Construction of the stone church building which remains at the corner of St. Paul Street, facing the park of the old Commons, had been started in the 1840’s after the Disruption. It had been completed but lack of agreement had prevented it from being occupied. It was being used by Robert Bell for the lowly purpose of storing hay. Now it was renovated and fitted as the first St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church of Carleton Place, for the part of the Seventh Line Church of Scotland congregation living at and near the village.
For almost 175 years, God has preserved our ministry here on the side of Bayhill in Almonte, Ontario. Generations of men and women have given their lives to celebrate and extend the Gospel of Jesus Christ in this beautiful church family. We consider it a privilege to build on that inheritance in this gospel – hope that is transforming us and our community. We strive to be ‘Christ-Centered and People-Focused’ in our calling here in Lanark County. We hope this website brings you a clearer sense of who we are, but to be honest, it would be best to discover us in person. We’re so glad you found us and welcome the chance to meet. CLICK
From Homestead to suburb Church services in Ashton began five years before there was a church. While the Irish settlers were busy clearing the land and establishing homesteads,” services were held in a house. In 1845, the pioneers began to build a place of worship, cutting stone from the nearby Jock River and hauling it by ox cart. But by the turn of the century, extensive repairs were needed. The community decided to build a new church nearby. It was completed in 1915 at a cost of $5,000. The old church, visible here in the background, is now boarded up, though exterior restoration will be completed this year for 150th anniversary celebrations. 1995.
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.
John Hatchell Halliday Christie
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.