We are continuing with our restoration plans for our Provincially Recognized Historical Site and wanted to review our progress for those that have followed our endeavours over the last few years. For those folks that are new to the area, we would love to share our story with you.
The MADILL CHURCH is one of Ontario’s few remaining historical square log pioneer churches. It has been an integral part of the Huntsville community since the families of the community contributed the property, logs, labour and funding required to construct the church in 1872. The community was able to have its first service in May 1873. The adjoining cemetery includes graves of many Muskoka pioneers, including Captain George Hunt, buried under a solid squared gravestone that bears his name and the words “Pioneer Citizen after whom Huntsville was named”.
Until being bought by the Madill Church Preservation Society, the church was owned by the United Church of Canada (UCC) and maintained & operated by community members assigned as the Trustees of the Madill Church. The church building has changed very little over the years however its age is catching up to it. In 2016, it was determined by the UCC that there were structural concerns that were beyond their financial abilities to address and the church was recommended for demolition.
The Town of Huntsville (TOH) was approached to take ownership and although they were not in a position to retain this beautiful building, they did organize a community meeting in August 2017 to consider options for the building. The attendees voted to establish a grassroots community organization to take ownership and responsibility for the Madill Church building and land. The Madill Church Preservation Society (MCPS) was incorporated November 18, 2017 under the Ontario Historical Society (OHS). The constitutional purpose of the corporation is “To protect and preserve a significant heritage site by restoring and maintaining the Madill Church and its surrounding land that commemorate the site for present and future generations“.
Since 2017, the MCPS has developed a fund-raising plan, participated in Community Events, hosted Open Houses and other community awareness events to assist with our goal of raising funds required to pursue the restoration project. The ongoing help & response from our community has been very encouraging and rewarding.
During this time, we also connected with local log restoration experts that provided us with their input on a plan for repairs and restoration. We have submitted our plans with an application to the Legacy Fund through Building Communities through Arts & Heritage in hopes that they will be able to provide a matching funds grant to assist with financing our endeavour. We also obtained financial support from the Town of Huntsville in January 2022 with Council’s resolution supporting a grant of $25000. Some very generous local donors provided us with matching funds.
Currently, we are waiting on the outcome of our Legacy Fund application to know how we will be able to proceed. We have been advised that June 21st is now the projected date for that decision. Fingers crossed we are successful, however successful or not we will continue with our restoration plans and looking forward to the 150th celebrations in 2023 of the history of this magnificent landmark.
We THANK YOU for your continued support.
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