Howitt Memorial Church


Mrs. John P. L. Clark







It takes a gem to write a gem, and Mrs. John P. L. Clark is a gem, in disguise, for Mrs. John P. L. Clark is Florence Elizabeth Metcalf, and Florence Elizabeth Metcalf is the daughter of Margaret Heard and George Metcalf, the very George Metcalf who plays a prominent role in the story that is to follow.







The Howitt Memorial Church




This generation ne’er can know,

The trials we had to undergo,

To lay the great forests low.





It is now 138 years ago since the Puslinch survey was finished.  At the first auction that was held for the sale of the land, Rowland Wingfield, a young man from England, stepped forward and bid $3.00 per acre for 800 acres on the township’s Fifth Concession.  It was his.


 Besides his family, who were with him, he had brought a herd of Shorthorn cattle, which later became Lower Canada’s foundation stock.  Also, he had pigs and sheep.


Now, soon, all round about him, other settlers had come, cutting down trees, building, planting, and making a way of life.  A school was built and then a church.  The church was on a corner of the Wingfield farm, which makes me think that the land was given by Mr. Wingfield, though the church itself was called Kirkland Church.  It was a small frame building.  A shed was there and a bit of land, enclosed behind, served as a graveyard. 






And now tragedy struck.  After thirty years of living as a country gentleman, Mr. Wingfield became involved in a parliamentary dispute and lost most of his means.  It was then that Alfred Howitt moved onto the stage.  Mr. Howitt’s father was John Howitt, of “The Grange”, Guelph Township.  He bought everything, just as it stood, and the Wingfields returned to England.


The Howitts became leading church people in the community.  In 1888, it was decided by the congregation that the members would build a new church.  I found on record that at this time Kirkland Church was on a circuit with the Hespeler Methodist Church, having as pastor the Reverend E. C. Henderson.  The congregation, as it stood at that time, was comprised of the families Smith Evans, Salt, Tolton, Thompson, Hardy, Howitt, Smith, Metcalf, Ruddel, Heath, Tom Evans, and others.






On February 20th 1888, a special meeting was called to organize and get things going.  It was held at the home of Chas. Smith.  Those present were Alfred Howitt, Chas. Smith, Geo. Metcalf, John Ruddel, and Nathan Thompson.  Reverend Henderson was in the chair. 


It was moved by John Ruddel and seconded by Nathan Thompson that the building be 40 feet by 30 feet, outside measurement.  Carried. 


It was moved by Geo. Metcalf and seconded by Nathan Thompson that a vote of thanks be sent to Mrs. E. F. Heath for her generous donation of $200 towards the church.  Carried. 


It was moved by Geo. Metcalf and seconded by Chas. Smith that Reverend E. C. Henderson, Nathan Thompson, and Alfred Howitt be a special committee to get plans and specifications and advice for the tenders.  Carried.


It was moved by Nathan Thompson and seconded by John Ruddel that the tender of William Smith be accepted, the agreement to be that he cut down the pine that stood in the way, draw the logs to the mill, and bring back the lumber to the church, and that the said lumber shall be cut in accordance with the bill of timber furnished, and that Mr. Smith be paid at the rate of $3.25 per thousand feet.  Carried.






And now things had begun to move.  Before the snow was off the ground, the big pine were back and in a pile.  Heaps of stone were standing about.  When the frost got out, it was spade and shovel and pick, and pick and shovel and spade; then stone and chisel and mortar, and mortar and chisel and stone, then hammer and nails and boards, and boards and nails and hammer, until the great skeleton rose high into the air, where the rafters mate together. 






By the end of November, the church was finished.  In a brief report of the building, it was stated that the entire cost had been $1,975.80, and up to that date $1,610.56 had been received.


Now the women of the congregation took over.  They said that there was to be a tea meeting, before the seats were fastened down.  It was to be held December 11th 1888.  And that was the night that I was born.  Now, as I look back, I can see that my arrival was inopportune and untimely.  But, there I was.


A year later, the church was put  on the Zion Church circuit, and remained there unto the end of its ministry, in the Hamilton Conference.


During its peak years, we had a number of excellent preachers, full of fervour, and preparing themselves to turn the world upside down.  We never heard that any did, but the aim was good.  But now times were changing and, in spite of what any man could do, the attendance at Howitt Memorial was getting thinner and thinner.  At last, it ceased to function entirely.


But always, some good man, from the outside, has come in and kept a Sunday School going.  Darkness has not put the light out, and who can tell for what it is reserved!  May God bless it!







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