Welcome to Wayback Wednesday sponsored by Cavalcade Color Lab! Every week, we’ll be sharing a vintage photo and asking our readers to chime in with anything you can recall about the photo, other related memories, or even a funny caption. Have some vintage photos of your own? Send them to [email protected] and we may share them with our readers!
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This week, Huntsville was built on the lumber industry. By the 1890s, there were four lumber companies in town employing 175 men. Do you know who owned this mill or where it was located? (Photo courtesy of Muskoka Heritage Place.)
Wayback Wednesday is sponsored by Cavalcade Color Lab
St. Mary’s Anglican (seen here in an undated photo) – reportedly the oldest stone church in Muskoka – is 130 years old this year. There will be a celebration at the church on August 14, possibly one of its last services as the Diocese has slated it for closure within three years. (See Doppler’s events page for details on the celebration: https://doppleronline.ca/huntsville/event/st-marys-anglican-church-130th-anniversary/)
Below are two accounts on the church’s history.
From Muskoka Digital Archives:
This is the oldest stone church in Muskoka, built in 1885 of local stone on a one-acre piece of property donated by Charles William Johnson, the village storekeeper who asked that it be named after his favourite daughter Mary and that it not include a cemetery. After his death his widow donated another acre of property adjoining the church property for a cemetery. The original church on the property was frame. The opening service of the stone church took place in 1886 attended by 74 communicants. William Crompton, who came from Manchester, England about 1873, was the first priest and had been instrumental in raising over $6000 in England for the church construction. Through his efforts a meeting hall was built beside the church named Clifton Hall after its benefactress, Lady Clifton, who lived near Manchester in England. It included a stage and a library.
At one time the church had a congregation exceeding 250 people but over time the numbers dwindled. At one time it was part of the mission of the Cowley Fathers of Bracebridge. In 1977 it became part of the North Muskoka Pioneer Parish and has been lovingly restored.
For more information see: Huntsville More Pictures From the Past, A Committee of Heritage Huntsville, c1998 and Chronicles of Stisted Township by Marjorie Demaine, 1976.
From Algoma University Archives:
St. Mary’s Anglican Church (Aspdin, Ont.) is part of the North Muskoka Anglican Pioneer Parish. Aspdin is located approximately seven miles from Huntsville. Rev. William Crompton (made deacon in 1875 and priest on April 27, 1879) was one of the first settlers in Aspdin and had been a Licensed Lay Reader in Birmingham and Manchester, England. He started reading prayers in a private log church built by his sons between 1874 and 1875. In October 1875 he began regular services in Mr. Charles Johnson’s house. On March 12, 1878 the community decided to build a log church on an acre of land donated by Mr. Johnson. The church was named St. Mary’s in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Johnson’s daughter. The church was raised April 3, 1878 and completed in December. Miss Girdlestone of Galt donated a frame Chancel (14 by 16 feet), and a set of Communion vessels and a carpet. Dr. Sullivan, Bishop of Algoma, visited February 23, 1879 and held a Communion Service.
Near the end of 1884 an unknown woman in England donated £600 sterling so that a stone church could be built. Her conditions included coloured Stoles and Frontals in accordance with the seasons, a priest in the Eastward Position, vases, candlesticks and cross on the re-table, and vestments not to be used except on special request of the congregation and with written consent from the Bishop.
The cornerstone for St. Mary’s was laid by the Rev. W. Crompton on September 30, 1885 and opening services were held on August 15, 1886. During the building, every child of the Sunday School brought a stone from their own homes and placed it into the wall themselves. They also placed a glass bottle with the names of Dr. Sullivan, William Crompton, Charles W. Johnson, Jeremiah Coulson, and every communicant connected with the church. The church building was made of stone and the interior included a hand carved oak rood screen (an elaborate archway separating the chancel from the church). The opening service was held on August 15th, 1886. Later, Bishop Sullivan consecrated the church on February 24, 1890.
Rev. W. Crompton gave an address at St. Augustine’s Church, Killburn, London, England on June 21, 1885 and received £11 sterling to purchase a Stone Font for St. Mary’s, arranged by Rev. E. Wood of Church of St. John the Evangelist, Montreal. Major-General Steward, of Prince’s Gate, London, England donated brass candlesticks and an alabaster cross. The congregation of St. Mary’s Church, Hulme, Manchester donated the pulpit, prayer desks, lectern and faldstool. Mr. Crompton’s wife and children donated the bell. The Bible and Prayer Book were given to Brightstone Church in England in 1843 by Robert Loder, Esq and contains the Apocrypha, services for Gunpowder Treason, King Charles the Martyr, the Restoration, the Canons of 1603, and Tate and Brady’s Metrical Psalms. In 1887 the church received another donation from the unknown woman in England. The £100 went toward a Tower and Spire. In 1892, Mrs. Johnson (then widowed) donated another acre of land for a cemetery. In 1890 a drive shed for the horses of the congregation was built. In 1891, Mr. Ambrose Leefe sold the church an acre of land for a parsonage and a house. In 1911, the Tower was re-built.
In June 1975 volunteers from the parishes in the Muskoka-Parry Sound area gathered at St. Mary’s for a clean-up project to reopen the pioneer church for worship during the summer of 1975. The project to clean-up and reopen some of Muskoka’s old pioneer church buildings was the vision of Fr. John Watson, Rural Dean of Muskoka-Parry Sound. Services were held at St. Mary’s throughout the summer of 1975.
Incumbents include: Rev. William Crompton (1875-1889), Rev. Henry P. Lowe (1890-1895), Gilbert F. Davidson, lay-reader (1890-1895?), Rev. Robert L. Locke (1895-1895), Rev. Franz C. H. Ulbricht (1896?), James Hickland, Catechist 1896-1896), Rev. William Henry French (1896-1899), Mr. F. W. Major (1899-1900), Rev. Laurence Sinclair (1900-1925?), Rev. W. A. J. Burt (1910-1911?), Rev. H. G. Watts (1916-1916?), Mr. Charles Miles (1920-1920?), and The Society of St. John the Evangelist (from 1928).