THE HISTORY OF
KNOX PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH CRIEFF
Table of Contents
Time goes you say,
Ah no, alas,
Ciod i bhur beatha? is deatach i a
chthear re uine bhig, agus an deigh
sin a theid as an t-sealladh.
James 4 - 14.
So teach us to number our days that
we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.
Psalm 90, 12th verse.
THE HISTORY OF KNOX CHURCH,
At the annual congregational meeting in January 1974, it was decided Knox church, West Puslinch, (Crieff) would observe the one hundredth anniversary of the Presbyterian Church in Canada by collecting and publishing the local history of the Crieff congregation.
As a result a centennial committee was elected.
In presenting this book the committee wish to acknowledge our indebtedness to the late Reverend William Robertson for much of the information prior to 1899 recorded in the book “Presbyterianism in Puslinch”. The minutes of the annual congregational meetings, the books of the various Church treasurers, and the minutes of the Boards of managers and session were also a fruitful source of information.
The committee hope and trust that they have interpreted and recorded this material in such a manner as to give an accurate view of the past and depict with fidelity the faith and hope of the pioneers as a worthy example and inspiration for present and future generations.
Alexander McConnell Chairman
Lorna MacDonald Secretary
The writer of the Book of Proverbs had a good piece of advice for the people of his day when he counselled them “not to remove the ancient landmarks which thy fathers have set”. What he meant was that they should not remove the stones that were used as boundary markers. By removing these landmarks they were destroying personal relationships. They were not respecting their neighbours’ property rights. They were destroying peace between themselves and others.
And in the rapid changes of our day there is a danger of removing the ancient landmarks of the spirit. We as Presbyterians have been asked in this centennial year 1975 to look back at the ancient landmarks of our faith, to look back across the one hundred years since four different strands of Presbyterianism came together to form the Presbyterian Church in Canada. And surely the publishing of this book will have been one of the best ways we could have devised to capture the past century. Surely it has been a worthwhile labour of love, a book we will find ourselves perusing time and time again!
But in this centennial year we are being asked to do more than to take a nostalgic look into the past. Note the motto that has appeared on all the centennial literature – “Remembrance - Renewal - Response”. We are being asked, then, to look back to see how God led His people across the century, to see God’s faithfulness in the midst of all the changes of life. And then we are being asked as a result of that looking back to take fresh courage and to respond to Christ with a deeper commitment in the future.
May we at Knox, Crieff never remove the landmarks of the spirit. May Christ help us to keep faith with the past and to surge forward with a renewed vision in the future. Great is His faithfulness!
The History of Knox Church Crieff
by Margaret McCormick.
and a place to worship God in Puslinch Township.
Puslinch township was surveyed during the years 1828 to 1831. This survey included the concessions, side roads and farm lots. The first tree was chopped down in what is now Guelph by John Galt and his axemen in 1827.
Prior to this survey the population of the township consisted chiefly of itinerant trappers and scattered squatters, about 125 souls in all. Two trails are known to have existed at this time, both entering Puslinch from the south; the one now known as No. 6 highway, the other has long since disappeared, but was used extensively by the settlers of Beverly Township, who came to fish in Puslinch Lake. Beverly was surveyed and settled before Puslinch. These two trails provided the only direct communication with Dundas which was the nearest centre of civilization where flour mills, etc., existed.
The permanent settlement of Puslinch began about 1832 when the survey was completed. The influx of immigrants continued for approximately twenty years, when for a short period the population of the township rose to about five thousand people.
With the exception of a group of settlers from Germany and Alsace Lorraine at Morriston and some scattered families from England, Ireland and the Northern United States, the majority of the settlers in the southern half of Puslinch township were of Highland Scot ancestry and spoke Gaelic as their native language.
Without a doubt, the present congregations of Knox and Duff’s owe their existence to the zealous faith, the energy and endurance of their highland ancestors.
Biologically speaking, they could not have inherited their beliefs but they had been born and nurtured in an austere social order in their native Scotland dominated by the doctrines of Calvin and Knox to such an extent that when they emigrated to Puslinch their form of worship was as necessary as the material bread and porridge that sustained their physical bodies.
The families who arrived in Puslinch during the first ten years after 1831 are believed to have suffered greater privations and hardships than succeeding groups, but it is worthy of note that it was during this period that two congregations were formed and two churches erected for the public worship of God, one in west Puslinch and one in east Puslinch.
The religious or church history of West and East Puslinch begins with these two areas worshipping as one large but scattered congregation and meeting in the log building, erected in 1835, on front concession 8, Lot 28, now known as Crown Cemetery. Services were conducted for a number of years by Mr. Thomas Wardrope, a former schoolmaster and a licentiate of the Church of Scotland. The population increased rapidly, and desiring a permanent minister, was officially organized as a congregation under the Presbytery of Hamilton in 1839. It may be noted here that it was through the able and willing assistance of Reverend John Bayne of Knox’s Church, Galt, that arrangements were successfully completed whereby Reverend William Meldrum, a licentiate of the Church of Scotland came to Puslinch. The ordination service for the Reverend Mr. Meldrum was held in the log church on March 11th, 1840.
The first elders mentioned are Neil McPhatter of West Puslinch and Peter McNaughton on the East side. Gillies McBean, who is believed to have lived in Beverly township near Clyde, was also an elder in this church at an early date.
The preceding paragraph is the accepted and familiar history of the period 1835 to 1839, but it would be unwise to conclude that it records all the activities of the early pioneers to establish a church in the wilderness. Records from 1837 to 1842, in existence, describe the petition signed by thirty-two persons sent to the Missionary Presbytery of the Canadas, in connection with the Associate Church of Scotland, at London, Ontario, June 21st, 1837. They requested the authority to establish a church for a congregation on the corner of an unregistered lot settled by John Black. The minister, Mr. Porteous, is mentioned in 1842. The reason for mentioning this record here is that the names of a number of men afterward became prominent in East Puslinch church. These include Messrs. Hugh Cockburn, Duncan McFarlane, Peter MacBeath and Daniel McFarlane.
It is known that William Stewart on Lot 23, rear concession 1, was at an early date chosen to walk to Toronto to make arrangements for Lot 28, front concession 8, to be used as a cemetery, now Crown Cemetery and to erect a church.
It was quite obvious, however, that the geographical boundaries of the congregation were too extended for regular church attendance. Members from west of Killean and southward to the 10th concession of Beverly were ten to fifteen miles from the church in East Puslinch, this distance and the many unopened side roads doubtless deterred some from attending worship regularly, and many from attending at all.
The difficulties experienced by Reverend Meldrum and his parishioners in attending worship cannot now be even conjectured. He was the only regular minister in the log church in West Puslinch during the fourteen years of its church history. He retired in 1835, but during most of his ministry the recently surveyed 1st concession road must have been a succession of steep hills, deep gullies, stagnant ponds and swamps. The main transportation was by foot or horseback.
There was discussion and consideration at this time towards having a centrally located church built on Lot 26 rear of concession 1 north of where Crieff church now is, but that idea was discarded and as an alternative the congregation was divided into two areas known as East and West Puslinch with a church in both areas.
and one minister and session.
The first West church was a log building larger than the East original church. It was built in 1840 and was situated on Lot 15, in the East field, just north of the first concession. It was the place of worship in West Puslinch until 1854 when a new church was built where the present church now is at Crieff. The land for this first church was donated by Neil McPhatter, who with his wife and family had settled on Lot 14 and 15, Concession 1 in 1832. He was an elder in the church until his death in 1867.
The four axemen who built the corners of this log church were Matthew and James McPhatter, sons of Neil the elder, Archibald McCormick and Neil Thompson.
The new West Puslinch church evidently solved many difficulties and proved a source of blessing and a convenient place of worship, which the early settlers so fervently desired.
There were now two congregations in one charge with one minister and one session. Worship was held two Sabbaths in the East church, and every third Sabbath in the West church. This arrangement continued from 1840 to 1857.
The title of the church established was legally known as the Presbyterian Church connected with the Established Church of Scotland.
Almost coinciding with Mr. Meldrum’s arrival and induction, there arose in the church in Scotland a violent controversy of a theological nature that resulted in the secession of numerous congregations from the parent church, including the Puslinch group in 1843.
This conflict is known as the disruption in the church of Scotland. Eventually the East congregation was compelled to vacate its land and church but what effect it had on the West (if any) with the same minister and session, we are unable to say.
It would appear that the disruption and the secession from that church were to some extent responsible for the introduction of the Presbyterian form of church authority and worship in Puslinch, as the congregation reorganized in connection with the new Synod of the Presbyterian Church in Canada and its authority.
The word Presbyterian refers primarily to the form of church government and the word Calvinist describes the faith of the organization. However, in dissenting from certain alleged teachings of the Church of Scotland, no change occurred in the basic doctrines, which continued as outlined in the Westminster Confession of Faith, the larger and shorter Catechism compiled in 1647 by the divines of the Church of England and assisted by the Commissioners of the Church of Scotland and authorized by an act of English parliament in 1649 and 1690.
By 1853, when Mr. Meldrum dissolved his pastoral ties, both congregations had increased greatly in numbers. The irregular Sabbath worship, two Sabbaths in the East church and one in the West church, was no longer satisfactory and the log churches quite inadequate.
The two congregations now separated entirely with a minister and session in each church. The west congregation at this time decided to change the location of their church, from Lot 15 to Lot 26, front concession one. The offer of a lot donated by Alexander Fraser, owner of Lot 26, was accepted. Donald Stewart on Lot 20 rear Gore also offered a lot, and some objected strongly to moving from Lot 15, the original site.
The corner adjacent to Lot 26 by 1853 could boast the distinguishing name of Fraserville. The name Crieff seems to date from 1862 when a post-office was located here. There was also a blacksmith, and a store is reported to have existed near the brow of the hill on Lot 27. The fact that other locations lacked these indications of civilization may have been a contributing influence in choosing the new location.
1854 – 1882
This second church was a large frame building capable of seating four hundred people. It was located in the same general location as the present church, but extended lengthwise not endwise in relation to the concession road.
The contractor was Robert Stewart, and the congregation assisted by voluntary labour and hauling material. No photograph seems to exist of this church but a model including the seats and pulpit, constructed by a local carpenter, may be seen in the Wellington County Museum at Fergus. The church was completed in 1854, the same year as Duff’s stone church.
The cemetery at Crieff also dates from this time. Previous to this, burials were at Crown Cemetery or Killean cemetery, which dates from 1834.
The book "Presbyterianism in Puslinch" records that Reverend Meldrum, who retired in 1853, conducted the first communion in the new church and that on Thanksgiving Monday twenty-four children were baptized.
For a number of years a regular minister was not available but again Dr. Bayne of Knox church, Galt came to the rescue. On a visit to Scotland, he persuaded a young university graduate, Andrew MacLean, to return with him to Canada, and through Dr. Bayne’s long association with the Puslinch congregation, Rev. Andrew MacLean was ordained minister of the new independent West Puslinch Church in 1857, which charge he ably and faithfully held until his death in 1873. The new minister boarded with Mr. and Mrs. Archie Thompson for a number of years. In 1862, the congregation purchased four acres of land from Allan Stewart, on Lot 25 just west of the church and erected a manse for the minister, who was married shortly afterwards to Miss Catherine Cameron of Chatsworth.
The contractor who built the manse was William Stratton Sr.
The first elders in the now independent West church were Reverend Andrew MacLean Moderator, Neil McPhatter, Gillies McBean and Angus McPherson. This was in 1857.
After the untimely death of Mr. McLean at fifty-three years of age, the spiritual and numerical state of the congregation is reported to have noticeably deteriorated, which had an adverse effect on the financial situation.
Reverend Neil McDiarmid, inducted in 1875, remained only three years. He was succeeded by Reverend Evan MacAuley, B.A.
The decade following Reverend MacAuley’s induction saw notable changes carried out by the congregation and board of managers, some pleasant, some inevitable. Numerous families, displeased at the new location of the church, and for other reasons, were attending worship in Galt and Hespeler.
and a re-union with East Puslinch
The frame church was larger than necessary and difficult to heat. The congregation decided to rebuild their church. The church built in 1854 was taken down and the present brick building erected. The church was completed in 1882. Duncan McPherson was the contractor. The designation “Knox church”, Crieff, dates from this time. Material, from the old building and the voluntary labour and co-operation of both skilled and unskilled, contributed to the success of this amazing achievement of the congregation at a time of grave financial difficulties.
Another delicate situation came to a head during Mr. MacAuley's pastorate, i.e., the decline of the Gaelic language and its replacement by the English tongue. In 1854, there were about one hundred and forty families connected with the church, of which about seventy were from Argyllshire, Scotland, the rest with few exceptions, from Perthshire, Ross-shire and Inverness. An observer about this time reported that of one hundred and twenty persons present in church, only twenty were unable to speak Gaelic. Services were conducted in Gaelic but consideration was shown as a service in English followed the main service.
Due to the decline in attendance at the Gaelic service, the order was now reversed, and the service in English preceded. This is reported to have given great offence to many. The English language only was used after 1890, except at communion services. The last service in Gaelic was at communion in 1908. It was held in the vestry, the English service being conducted at the same time in the church. Reverend Donald Strachan was the minister at the Gaelic service and Reverend Samuel Lawrence at the English service.
The building of the new church, the upkeep of a manse and the minister’s stipend, small as it now appears, proved too great a burden for the declining congregation. Assistance from the Augmentation Fund was received for a number of years and when this was suddenly discontinued, there was a possibility of the congregation degenerating to the status of a mission. The minister’s coat is reported to have become so shiny by long use, that a Gaelic speaking lady declared that “a louse could not walk on it”.
Perhaps the unsettled attitude of the congregation may be indicated by the following tale. The Reverend MacAuley’s three young boys, accompanied by a schoolmate, Angus McPhee, planned and succeeded in running away from home; they walked west on the newly built C.P.R. tracks, walked across the high level bridge on the Grand river at Galt, and stayed over-night with a noted atheist by the name of Brown. The sequel to this episode has not been preserved. Mr. MacAuley’s pastoral ties were dissolved in 1888. Reverend William Robertson’s history gives credit to the able and surprisingly successful efforts of John McGeachy Sr. to improve the faltering financial status of the congregation at this time.
The East church was also experiencing similar difficulties at this time; and a mutual feeling and agitation that the two congregations should re-unite resulted in the appointment of committees from each church who arranged a new basis of union and a continuation of the two congregations under one minister in 1890. Angus Stewart and James McDonald were the committee members from Crieff. This arrangement has proved quite a permanent solution to many perplexing problems. It must have increased the work of the minister, but it reduced the financial obligations of the congregations and as the minister lived at the Glebe at East Puslinch the Crieff manse was now rented.
Tribute must be paid here to the good judgement and executive ability of those responsible for the building of the present church and arranging of the basis of union, (existing basis of union).
In 1890, Reverend William Robertson was inducted as minister of the two congregations. Shortly after this, the congregation received eight hundred dollars, as a share of a sale of land in East Puslinch, which apparently related back to the period before the separation into two congregations. The money was used in part to build the first sheds for the horses of those attending church. This must have been a much-needed improvement but it was necessary to unhitch the horses, I believe. The sheds were located on the east side of the road and west of the cemetery.
About this time the vestry was built (1890-1895) by the carpenter John McMillan and again voluntary help assisted in the work. The brick was hauled from Doon with sleighs in the wintertime by local farmers. The vestry was always the meeting place for the Sunday school and bible class. It is of historical interest to note that a Sunday school was first organized by Neil McPhatter in the original log church and his wife was superintendent, yet strong objection was taken to these schools in some places.
Sabbath school was not permitted in Duff’s church until 1890. Objection to the singing of hymns instead of the psalms of David may also be noted and the introduction of choirs and an organ in place of the precentor was not unanimous; indeed a precentor at Crieff declared that he would as soon listen to a fanning mill as an organ.
The annual Sunday School picnic should not be ignored. Before the advent of the automobile, this picnic was held in Dan MacDonald’s woods, west of the church and south of the concession road, later on in Robert McRobbie’s woods, west of Crieff side road, north of the railway. A swing erected between two tall beech trees, with ropes thirty feet long, provided a delightful thrill. Lemonade was a treat then and ice-cream was first introduced to the picnickers by Archie Scott, who manufactured it with a hand-operated ice-cream freezer.
Sunday School and Congregational picnic in Mr. Robert MacRobbie’s bush, July 1st, 1918.
left to right. Mr. Archibald Scott, S.S. Superintendent, holding Norman Roszell, Miss Elizabeth Stewart, Mrs. William MacAllister and James J. MacPherson.
In 1899, the 60th anniversary of the establishing of Presbyterianism in Puslinch was celebrated by both churches. The various events connected with the anniversary extended over a period of several week with services in both churches. It was at this time that the book “Presbyterianism in Puslinch” was compiled by Reverend William Robertson and published in connection with the anniversary. It is the only history of that period and preserves in considerable detail the religious history of East and West Puslinch. Mr. Robertson records with a truly sympathetic insight the faith and religious attitude of the people in times of disagreement as well as times of harmony and co-operation.
The first decade of the 20th century saw further improvements and changes. New seats of polished hardwood were installed about 1905 and 6 more rows in 1908. The old seats were of pine and though not uncomfortable were simply benches with almost straight backs. These were sold and some may be in existence yet. The new seats added greatly to the interior appearance of the church.
In 1910, the original church sheds were replaced by a much large building. They extended almost the full length of the west side of the cemetery, open to the side-road, with a barn type frame on a solid stone wall. This long building was divided into sections, each section accommodating two buggies or democrats, without unhitching and well protected from the weather. Dan McMillan was the contractor. At the annual meeting held January 20th, 1921, a motion was passed giving consent to the cemetery committee to have the sheds moved and, as a result the entire shed was moved to a new cement foundation, immediately south of the concession, on the east side of the road. Afterwards, when cars became common, the sheds were reduced to half the original length and finally in 1970 were sold. The sheds were a necessary feature of the horse and buggy era and the work done by the congregation in planning, building and moving them, probably equalled the effort needed to build the log church in 1840.
These sheds cost five hundred dollars. This was raised almost entirely by canvass and the resulting voluntary contributions to the building fund. The final payment on the loan was twenty-three dollars made in 1915. The moving of the sheds cost one thousand dollars Colonel Maclean and his brother Major Hugh Maclean contributed five hundred dollars, and the congregation five hundred dollars plus voluntary labour.
The effects of the Great War of 1914-1918 on the congregation may be recalled rather than explained, that it caused great and lasting sorrow to some families is certain, but it can hardly be denied that the sudden boom in the economy was of benefit financially to others. Advertised as a war to end wars, it was actually a prelude to greater conflicts.
Old Church Manse and Knox church,
taken from hill west of church, about 1912.
The year 1925 was a most important time in Presbyterian history. Long before this date, six unions had been effected between different branches of the Presbyterian church in Canada, which had resulted in a reduction to four Synods. On June 15th 1875, the four remaining Presbyterian organizations consummated a union, which they had been considering for five years. This union included the organization, which had remained in connection with the Church of Scotland in 1843 at the time of the Disruption. It was indeed a time for rejoicing.
Now in 1925, the proposed union of the Presbyterian, Methodist and Congregational churches that had been considered desirable in many ways and places reached the stage of deciding one way or another. The following notice was read in the church on Sundays January 11th and the 18th : “Take notice that the union of the Presbyterian Church in Canada, the Methodist Church and the Congregational Church will become effective on the 10th day of June, 1925, and under provisions of sections 10 of chapter 100 of the Statutes of Canada, 1924, a meeting of the congregation will be held in this church on Wednesday the 21st day of January 1925 at the hour of two o'clock p.m., for the purpose of deciding whether or not this congregation will enter the said union. Stuart Woods, Moderator.”
The meeting on January 21st was held in the vestry with Reverend Stuart Woods chairman and Angus D. McPherson, secretary. It was moved by Archie Scott, seconded by Robert D. MacRobbie, that the congregation take a vote by ballot on the question of whether or not it will enter into the United Church. Carried. Further motions were duly passed, appointing Angus D. McPherson as poll clerk. The scrutineers were Mrs. Angus McPherson, Miss Ellen McPherson, James A. McPherson, Archie Scott, Fred Roszell and Mrs. Duncan McAllister. Moved by Kenneth McDonald seconded by Mrs. James Tennant, that the vote be taken when the congregation is assembled at the church and at the home of Angus D. McPherson on the days and hours herein stated as follows.
January 22, 23 and 24th at the hour from 8 to 9 o’clock p.m.
January 26, 27 and 28th at the hour from 10 to 11 o'clock a.m.
January 29, 30 and 31st at the hour from 10 to 11 o'clock a.m.
February 2,3, and 4th at the hour from 10 to 11 o'clock a.m.
The ballots not to be signed. Carried.
The meeting now adjourned and was re-convened in the church vestry on Wednesday February 4th, at 8 o'clock p.m. to hear the result of the vote.
The meeting opened with prayer with Reverend Stuart Woods in the chair and the following statement certified correct by the poll clerk and scrutineers was read by James Blake.
Total number of persons entitled to vote as per certificate list ....... 90
Total number of votes cast ........................ 49
Number of votes cast for union ................... 6
Number of votes against union…............... 43
Majority against union ....................…....... 37
The meeting now adjourned.
Duff’s congregation also decided against union so the disruption and animosities occurring in various congregations were unknown here. Probably the mild characteristics and conciliatory attitude of the minister, Reverend Stuart Woods, contributed to this amicable ending to a delicate situation.
Prior to the vote, he arranged with speakers, some supporting and others opposing church union, but he did not actively participate in the campaign and afterwards was a minister in the United Church.
and substantial aid from generous members and friends..
A special meeting of those interested in planning the permanent improvement of the cemetery and grounds surrounding the church was held in the church on November 8th, 1920. This meeting is of marked significance. The meeting appointed a cemetery improvement committee as follows, Reverend Stuart Woods, Messrs. Archie Scott, William Easton, Robert D. MacRobbie, Kenneth McDonald, and Duncan McAllister. Lieut. Col. John Bayne Maclean and his brother Major Hugh Maclean were present and spoke briefly, expressing their desire to co-operate with the committee in their improvement undertaking. Their parents, Reverend Andrew Maclean and his wife were buried in the cemetery and they themselves had both been born in the old church manse. Lieut. Col. J. B. Maclean had achieved spectacular success in the publishing and financial world and from the date of this meeting in 1920 to his death in 1949, continued to co-operate with the cemetery improvement committee and the congregation with regard to the church and surroundings.
The building of the imposing stone wall with entrance gates and ornamental hedges and trees was his initial contribution. The completing of the wall and entrance gates was an event to be especially noted and remembered. The congregation, desiring to express its appreciation and gratitude to Col. John B. Maclean and his brother Major Hugh Maclean for their extensive improvements and work at the cemetery arranged a day to celebrate the completing of the wall. It was held on Thanksgiving Day, November l0th, 1924.
The whole congregation, young and old, attended, as well as a large number of guests (120) and former residents of the neighbourhood, three hundred in all. The program began at one o’clock p.m., with a sumptuous and delicious banquet prepared and served by the ladies of the congregation. A number of seats near the vestry door were removed and tables erected here, on the platform and in the vestry with the people being seated in successive groups.
Dr. Henry Becker of Toronto, who was born in Crieff, thanked the people for their royal welcome and moved a vote of thanks to the ladies for the banquet. This was seconded by Reverend William Kannawin of Hamilton.
The laying of the corner stone in the completed wall by Angus Stewart was an impressive part of the occasion. Mr. Stewart had been church treasurer for many years, and there is no record that he ever received any monetary reward. The corner stone and appropriate records are located in the east pillar of the gateway directly in front of the church.
Following the laying of the corner stone, the congregation moved into the church and seated in the pews, witnessed the unveiling of the memorial stone to the Reverend Andrew Maclean, located in the north wall, east of the vestry door. It was unveiled by his son Major Hugh Maclean. This memorial stone was originally the grave stone in Reverend Andrew Maclean’s burial lot in the church yard but at this time Col. John B. Maclean and his brother Major Hugh Maclean erected a larger memorial stone in the family lot and with the consent of the congregation moved the original stone to its present location in the church.
Trustees of Crieff Church
left to right - Kenneth Martin, James MacMillan, Edward MacDonald
However, as years passed by, Colonel John Bayne Maclean’s plans were greatly extended. He purchased the three hundred acres immediately west of the church and carried out an extensive re-foresting program. The two properties north of the churchyard were purchased and improved, all of which adds to the attractive appearance of the church property itself. A well was drilled on the lot north of the church which supplies his various properties. It is from this well that the church receives its water supply.
Thanksgiving Day Celebration, November 10th 1924.
Board of Managers
Front Row - left to right - Mrs. Richard MacMillan, Mrs. Edward MacDonald
Back Row - Ken Martin, James MacMillan, John Griesbach, Donald McConnell
The congregation, appreciative of the extent of Colonel Maclean’s work and generosity, and the transformation in the cemetery grounds, which now had extended over many years, arranged a special day, June 15th, 1934, on which to honour and pay tribute to Colonel Maclean and his brother Major Hugh C. Maclean. The entire congregation attended, also a large number of invited guests. The unveiling of the memorial plaque was one of the notable events of the day. It was ten years since a similar gathering had watched the laying of the corner stone celebrating the completing of the wall. Pictures of both gatherings are still in existence and are no doubt familiar to some. The ladies of the congregation in their usual capable manner served a delicious banquet on tables on the lawn, east of the church, which contributed greatly to the enjoyment of the occasion. Reverend Peter Mathieson was chairman and after welcoming the gathering and explaining the work of the cemetery committee, called on Dr. Henry Becker of Toronto, who removed the Union Jack from the tablet in the stone wall facing the roadway. The remainder of the program might aptly be described as a “feast of reason and a flow of soul”. Colonel Maclean spoke at considerable length referring to his work and future plans. He was somewhat critical of the manner in which the congregation was honouring him and declared that memorial tablets were for the dead. “I am not dead and you are not going to bury me yet,” he observed.
Dr. Kannawin D.D., who had taught school at Crieff in 1889, and re-organized the Sabbath school at that time, was now called on. He did not agree with Colonel Maclean’s view of memorial tablets and stated that “the world would be happier with more taffy and less epitaphy, if there were more flowers given before the last sad rites. He complimented Colonel Maclean on his accomplishments at Crieff and assured him that he, the Colonel, was very unlike the proverbial Aberdonian, who had started a motion picture show and was disappointed in the attendance. To induce additional patronage he decide to erect a sign, “All over 85 years of age admitted free,” but remembering that Aberdonians lived to great ages, the notice finally read “All over 85 years of age admitted free if accompanied by their parents”. After Dr. Kannawin’s address, the congregation sang a hymn and Reverend Peter Mathieson closed with prayer.
At a managers’ meeting dated May 16th, 1912, the sale of the manse property was discussed. This old house had not been used as manse since 1878. It had been occupied by various tenants and was the Crieff post office for a period ending in 1912, with the advent of rural mail delivery. The annual rent at this time was twenty-five dollars. The strained finances of the congregation prevented needed repairs and maintenance, consequently the property gradually acquired a dilapidated appearance. After prolonged discussion over many years a motion was passed at the annual meeting, January 12th 1925 approving the transfer of the manse and land (4 acres) to Colonel J. B. Maclean as a gift by deed. With commendable Scots caution, the motion included a clause whereby, if it ever passed out of the Maclean name it would revert back to the congregation. Doubtless Col. Maclean was pleased to receive and own his old birthplace, but he was aware of the circumstances and on opportune occasions observed in jocular vein that he had received the gift because the congregation wished to get rid of it. The Colonel not only restored the old manse but also added a library, a greenhouse and supervised by his gardener Frank Gartland constructed a rock garden, which as a beauty spot of this kind was considered by some as being unequalled in Western Ontario at this time.
The manse property was inherited by his nephew, but by an error the clause relating to the return of the manse to the congregation had been omitted from the registered deed. It was eventually sold which may have been a blessing in disguise. It is now Sunset Villa.
Colonel John Bayne Maclean died in 1949 and in his will bequeathed approximately six hundred thousand dollars, along with the greater part of his Crieff estate to the Presbyterian Church in Canada and though Knox church was not definitely mentioned, the congregation has benefited from this arrangement.
Others also have retained an interest in Crieff church, some living and prospering in far away places. The modern central heating system installed in 1958 was a gift from Mr. and Mrs. Thomas MacDonald of Minneapolis Minnesota, U.S.A.
They also presented the electric organ and choir robes in 1960, broadloom for the church floor in 1968 and the library in 1972, costing in all between six and seven thousand dollars. Records available also mention the following gifts:
Estate of George McDonald (Clyde)
Estate of William Easton
Estate of Mrs. Jane McAninch
Legacy of Mrs. John Cameron
The Misses Catherine and Abigail McIntosh in memory of their father and mother, the communion table, chair, organ lamp, hymn books and hymn chart
Estate of Miss Catherine McIntosh
In memory of Angus D. McPherson
Gift from Colonel John Bayne Maclean estate
Ladies Aid pulpit lamp and falle
In memory of her father, the late Nelson McAninch, by Miss Helen McAninch, for pulpit bible
Mrs. Helena Scott in memory of her husband Walter Scott, communion plates
Donation from the Presbyterian Church in Canada, for vestry enlarging
The family of the late Frederick Paddock, in memory of their father and mother, the church pulpit
Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth MacDonald, in memory of their sons, John and Donald, who made the supreme sacrifice in the war 1939-1945, 25 psalm and hymn books
Miss Beatrice Bond, ferns and fern stands, in memory of MacGregor Stewart
Ladies Aid in memory of Mrs. Elizabeth Kerns, baptismal font
Estate of Miss Divina J. Gilchrist, for psalm books
Estate of Miss Mary McCormick (Killean)
Donation from Angus Smith, a table originally from the household of Dr. Bayne, Knox Church, Galt
Archibald Scott donated land for the relocating of the church sheds
Duncan McAllister donated land for cemetery extension.
Andrew Scott donated land for parking lot
Estate of John Tennant
Mrs. Alfred Reid painted the Burning Bush on the communion tablecloth.
Nevertheless it is no doubt due to the persevering and unselfish efforts of successive generations of ministers, elders, managers and members that Knox Church, Crieff, continues to exist.
The war of 1939-1945 was too colossal a conflict to comment on here but cannot be entirely ignored. It was a period of great anxiety and fear. At the time of the fall of Paris and the prospect of an invasion of the British Isles, the minister, Reverend James L. Burgess, in his sermon reminded the congregation that the chosen and covenanted nation of Israel and the Temple of Solomon had been destroyed. Some historians considered this war to have been the greatest disaster to have ever occurred in the intellectual sphere of the human race up to that time. The names of the young men of the congregation recorded on the memorial plaque on the church wall is a constant reminder of the deadly nature of that conflict.
The year 1940 saw the passing of another impressive and historic milestone in the annals of the West Puslinch congregation. It was one hundred years since Reverend William Meldrum held the first regular service of worship in the old log church, on Lot 15. Preparations were made for special anniversary services to observe this centennial anniversary of the Presbyterian Church in West Puslinch. The service worship was held on Sunday, June 16th, 1940 at 11 o’clock, a.m. and the evening service at 7 o’clock p.m. The minister at the morning service was Rev. G.A. Mullin B.A. of West Flamboro and in the evening Reverend J.D. Smart of Knox's Church, Galt. Reverend James L. Burgess was minister at Knox, Crieff and Duff’s churches at this time. Choir leader and organist was Mr. James Porteous who arranged for additional soloists for the occasion. New Hope choir of Hespeler assisted in the evening service.
On the following Monday June 17th, a large and most enjoyable garden party was held at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Duncan McAllister, east of the church. Former residents of Crieff district and guests from outside points attended, renewing old friendships and relationships.
Girls’ softball teams from Morriston and Tansley competed in the afternoon, Morriston winning. These games were played in the field east of McAllister's orchard. Girls playing softball as an alternative to men’s hardball games was still a novelty in 1940. The supper served possibly for the first time at a Crieff festival in smorgasbord style was most successful. Pipers John McFarlane and Colin Blythe of Guelph, provided a choice selection of highland tunes and music during the afternoon. Crieff congregation while noted for its highland ancestry and always blessed with excellent singers and musicians perhaps unfortunately cannot claim to have produced a piper. The evening program was provided by a group of entertainers. An additional feature was a series of short plays written by the minister, Reverend J.L. Burgess. These plays featured the costume of women
and men, the manner and topics of conversation prevalent in the 1840’s. They were presented by local talent under the supervision of Mr. Burgess and enjoyed by all. A loud speaker, now known as the microphone was used for the first time at Crieff, on this occasion, both at the garden party program and the church services. The large crowd at the Sunday services could not be seated in the church. Chairs and benches were arranged on the grass, immediately east of the church and those seated there were able to hear and take part in the service along with those inside due to the loud speaker.
Colonel Maclean provided an illustrated printed pamphlet giving the Sunday service program, which is worthy of special mention here. It contained the only known existing list of the heads of the families in the Crieff congregation in 1857, and their location in Beverly, Gore, first con., 2nd con., 3rd con., and Puslinch Lake districts, a valuable historical record.
Thus ended one hundred years of Crieff church history. Is it not appropriate to quote "A thousand years in Thy sight are but as yesterday when it is passed and as a watch in the night?" Psalm 9.4
The lawn social sometimes called garden party or strawberry festival was for half a century an interesting event in the social activities of the congregation. It was not an annual event and began in Reverend William Robertson's time about 1905. The first ones we recall were held at the homes of Allan Stewart, Angus D. McPherson, and James Blake. Football or baseball games in the afternoon, a generous supper served on tables by the ladies and a paid group of entertainers at the night program. Jimmie Fax was a popular entertainer, singer and cartoonist for many years. Usually the local member of parliament patronized these gatherings, smoked a cigar with his political admirers. Cigarettes were unknown then.
The first moving picture that I, and possibly others were privileged to see was at an entertainment in the church in 1907. It was given by two “Carey Brothers”. I recall only two pictures or reels, one a balloon ascending and another speeded up intentionally, which the operator explained was “where all bad little boys go”.
Many items and events, some of minor importance at the time, are now becoming historically of interest. We note the sale of coal oil lamps in 1925 and the gasoline lamps in 1931. Lighting for the church was provided by small coal oil lamps suspended in a wheel shaped arrangement, above the centre seats, also hand lamps with a reflector, held in swivel brackets, on the wall, between the windows and behind the choir. The gasoline lamps were a marked improvement. There were large hanging lamps, suspended on long wires near the aisle but if the air pressure on which they operated failed, it was sometimes necessary to restore the pressure with a hand pump. The church was wired for electric lighting in 1929. This was possible at this time due to Col. J. B. Maclean, at some expense to himself for arranging for a hydro line from No. 6 highway to his properties at Crieff.
The church was heated by a wood-burning box stove until 1958 when the central forced heating plant was installed. It required from two to three cords of hardwood, and a cord of cedar for the winter months. The wood was cut twenty-two inches long and cost in later years twenty-five to thirty dollars a year. The large box stove was located at the rear of the building, behind the seats and connected to the chimney behind the pulpit by an amazing length of horizontal and vertical stovepipes. I have often wondered how the caretakers and board of managers cleaned and re-erected such a length of pipes, or if it was necessary for them to repeat the third commandment at times. In later years, a second smaller stove was placed near the door into the vestry. A small box stove heated the original vestry. In 1894, the expense accounts show two gallons of coal oil purchased at 13 cents a gallon and two cords of hardwood at three dollars and fifty cents a cord.
In 1908, a canvass of the congregation was made by the managers to explain the use of the duplex envelope system, which along with the annual printed reports was introduced at that time. However, in 1924, the annual meeting decided that due to financial conditions reports would not be printed for that year.
In 1921, the annual meeting considered the request of Major Hugh Maclean to purchase the original communion service, and in response, granted it to him as a gift. This included metal tokens used previous to this time.
The trustees of Knox church, West Puslinch, were appointed as a board, separate from the board of managers, at the annual congregational meeting held on January 31st, 1924. They held their first meeting at the same time, when their secretary received from Reverend Mr. Woods the deed of land pertaining to the manse property and from Mr. Duncan McDonald the deed of land pertaining to the church sheds property, also the insurance papers.
The wearing of a gown by the minister, and later, gowns by the choir began in the 1920’s, an established custom now, they were considered by a few an innovation rather than a necessity.
A passing reference to the acrobatic movements of Reverend Samuel Lawrence around the pulpit must not be regarded as a reflection on his sermons, but it certainly eliminated any possibility of him ever wearing a gown.
Mention of the choir brings the recollection of a most peculiar character who sat immediately below the choir and attended church regularly, quite unkempt in appearance, but by no means retiring or shy; he would rise as soon as the minister announced the hymn and often raised his arm as a sign for the congregation to rise. He had been born in the community and died in 1930. His funeral was attended in as respectful and similar manner to mentally stable souls.
The lack of space to install the oil furnace combined with the need for modern plumbing and washroom facilities became quite evident and as a result after various plans were considered, the board engaged Robert Paddock, contractor, to enlarge and renovate the vestry. The building was widened on the west side and extended length wise to the north. The original Sunday school room is much larger and used also as a banquet or dining room with a connected kitchen. The minister’s room and washrooms complete this arrangement, which has proved a most useful improvement and with a pleasing appearance of lasting quality. It was completed in 1958.
We can not here give credit individually to the many men and women who have faithfully performed the duties of secretary and treasurer of the various church organizations down through the years. The work of the financial treasurer is perhaps the most exacting and responsible. The following is a list of church treasurers recorded in church records since 1840, also the members of session until 1891.
Members of session appointed at various times in West Puslinch.
James A. McPherson
James A. McPherson
Philip MacDonald, Treasurer of Knox Church, 1975.
These notes, covering a period of one hundred and thirty-five years, bring us up to this anniversary year, 1975. We trust that they are sufficiently accurate and complete to be read and studied with interest by future generations.
In conclusion, however, let us not allow this consideration of our own local historic past to distract our attention from the present state of the world wide church, after almost two thousand years of existence. Neither let us permit the events of the past or present to obscure or distort the true perspective of the future, and the highly exalted role of the church in the foretold “restitution of all things which God has spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began”, Acts 3:21. As a vital aid to our comprehension and a refreshing stimulus to our faith, that we might always rejoice in hope especially at this anniversary season, may we all remember and reflect on the command of our Redeemer, the Lord and Head of the church, His words, Mark 13:37, are “What I say unto you, I say unto all, Watch!”
by Margaret McCormick
Rev. William Robertson et al.
After the death of Rev. Andrew Maclean, service was conducted by Mr. Alexander Fraser, student at Knox College, Toronto, during the vacation months. Probationers and other candidates continued to work until 1875 when the Rev. Neil McDiarmid of Wallacetown, was called to be their minister. He was inducted by the Presbytery of Guelph. His pastorate terminated in little more than three years. During a somewhat prolonged vacancy, the Rev. Donald Strachan of Rockwood was Interim Moderator of Session. Probationers and other candidates supplied the pulpit according to the regular arrangements during vacancies, until the congregation felt constrained to unite in extending a call to Rev. Evan MacAulay B.A.. Mr. MacAulay accepted the call and was inducted on the 3rd of August 1880. Mr. MacAulay terminated his pastorate eight years later. The resignation was accepted on the 17th of January, 1888.
After the retirement of Mr. MacAulay, the Home Mission Committee, at the request of the presbytery, appointed Mr. James M. McLaren, a student of Knox College to supply during the summer vacation. When he departed to prosecute his studies, the Rev. D.B. Cameron, for many years minister of the Presbyterian church in Acton, gave continuous supply for a considerable time. An unanimous call by Knox and Duff’s churches to Rev. William Robertson B.A. of Waterdown was made, which he accepted. The induction took place on October 21st, 1890 by the Presbytery of Guelph. Mr. Robertson was a man of exceptional ability, especially in smoothing out difficulties, and gave unstintingly of his time and service in any good cause. After faithfully serving the congregation for sixteen, years he terminated his pastorate with these congregations to take up journalistic work and on Sunday, October 7th, 1906 preached his farewell sermon. His text was from Hebrews 13th chapter, 8th verse, “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and to-day and forever”.
Reverend Samuel Lawrence was inducted as minister of Knox church, West Puslinch and Duff’s church, East Puslinch on March 15th, 1907. He was born in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, April 25th, 1863. He taught school for three years in Scotland and came to Canada in 1883. After his graduation from Knox College, Toronto in 1894, he served in the following pastorates in Ontario, English Settlement and Ilderton 1894-1901; Chalmers church Dunwich and McBride’s, 1901-1907, Knox and Duff’s churches Puslinch, 19071919; Eldon and Eldon Station, 1919-1924; Rothsay and Moorefield, 1925-1934; and Rothsay, 1934-1937.
In 1937, he was elected Moderator of the Synod of Toronto and Kingston. He then retired from the active work of the ministry to Whitby.
Reverend Lawrence was of quite a versatile turn of mind. He was an able, reasonably fluent preacher, fond of music, especially psalms and hymns, but capable of singing Scots songs on special occasions. In the horse and buggy days many rural residents had little opportunity of attending concerts in surrounding cities. Mr. Lawrence was personally acquainted with the members of a celebrated male quartette from Galt, “The Maple Leaf Quartette” and on numerous occasions arranged for their concerts in Knox church, which was a pleasure to many people.
Mr. Lawrence was an ardent farmer, and the “Glebe” located on part of lot 26, rear of the 7th concession of Puslinch, fronting on the Brock Road, now Hwy. 6, contained 27 acres, part of which was quite fertile soil. He operated this farm with an enthusiasm equal to that associated with his pastoral duties. He kept cows, hens, pigs and horses, raising and selling calves and colts. In the fall of the year he frequently arranged bees to have his fall plowing and other work completed, inviting a number of farmers with their teams and equipment from both congregations. He did not neglect his pastoral obligation in any way, which included individual pastoral visits and prayer meetings. Many criticized and objected to the farming activities as being non-clerical. Being quite positive and determined in his views, this led to friction which culminated in the termination of his ministry here. Possibly to prevent a recurrence of this state of affairs the Duff’s congregation, who owned the “Glebe” sold it and succeeding ministers seemed content to exercise their surplus energies on the more sedate activity of horticulture.
Reverend Samuel Lawrence passed away March 7th, 1953. The service in Whitby on March 9th was conducted by the Reverend Dr. Beverly Kitchen of Oshawa. At the service in Duff’s church on March 10th, the Rev. T. G. M. Bryan was in charge and the Rev. Dr. David Gowdy of Central church, Galt, delivered the address.
Dr. Gowdy paid tribute to the Rev. Samuel Lawrence as a man of God, an earnest and forceful evangelical preacher, a man with a message from the heart to the heart, a faithful pastor, a diligent student of theology, a loyal friend, and a man whose ministry had been greatly blessed by God wherever he served.
Dr. Gowdy acknowledged his own indebtedness to Mr. Lawrence’s friendship and interest in him ever since he was ordained in Durham in Saugeen Presbytery, in which Mr. Lawrence was then ministering. He also mentioned how Mr. Lawrence used to tell him of the happy memories he had of his pastorate in Puslinch.
The pall bearers, who were chosen by Mr. Lawrence some years ago, were Messrs. John W. Kerr, Hugh E. Cockburn, John M. Cockburn, James A. McPherson, Robert D. MacRobbie, and William J. Scott. Internment took place in the family plot in Crown Cemetery, Puslinch.
Rev. Stuart Woods.
Reverend Stuart Woods was inducted into the pastorate of Knox church, West Puslinch, and Duff’s church East Puslinch on October the 9th, 1919. Reverend Woods was ordained to the ministry of the Presbyterian church in Canada at Richmond, Ontario in 1900. In 1904, he was inducted into a charge at Metcalfe, Ont. and in 1910 into a charge at Chesterville, Ont. In 1914, he moved to Riverfield, Quebec, and in 1919 came to Knox church, West Puslinch and Duff’s Church East Puslinch. He joined the United church in 1925, returning to the Presbyterian church in 1931, when he was inducted into the charge at Beamsville, Ontario. He retired August 31st, 1939 to Pelham to reside.
Reverend and Mrs. Woods have two children, Douglas and Mildred.
While in charge of this congregation, Reverend Woods was an active member of the local horticultural society and through this organization he obtained for many individuals plants and bulbs. Through his influence and willingness to help in beautifying public property, he was able to secure aid from men of means who were ready to help in such work. The initial improvements to the church and surroundings in the early twenties were in a large measure due to Reverend Woods.
The Presbyterian Record, dated September 1955, provides a photo, taken by the St. Catharines Standard and we quote (55 years in the ministry) Niagara Presbytery’s grand old Man, the Reverend Stuart Woods, celebrated his 55th anniversary of ordination to the ministry by preaching at the Communion service at First church, Louth, on July 10th. A banquet was held after the service, when congratulations were extended to Mr. Woods, shown here as he cuts the cake. End of quote.
Reverend Woods died on June 22nd, 1959.
Reverend Peter Mathieson was inducted to his charge in Knox church, West Puslinch and Duff’s church, East Puslinch on October 30th, 1925. Rev. Mathieson held pastorates in Richmond, Ontario, Kinlough and Riverdale, Ontario, Glen Sanford, Ont. and Kinnears Mills, Quebec before coming to Knox, West Puslinch and Duff’s, East Puslinch.
Mr. Mathieson was born at Forresters Falls, June 19th, 1875, educated in Forresters Falls public school and Pembroke high school. He obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree from McGill university, Montreal, and his theological studies in the Presbyterian College in Montreal graduating with the class of 1903. Mr. Mathieson was a strong preacher of evangelical truth. He ever had the courage of his convictions, spoke and acted fearlessly. He was beloved by his people, revered by his friends, honoured and respected by his fellow ministers.
Mr. Mathieson was president for a time of the Puslinch Horticultural Society, an ardent worker in the society, he loved flowers as his friends.
After ten years as minister of both congregations, Reverend Mathieson held a memorial service in loving memory of members and adherents who passed to the great beyond during his ten years as minister. He took as his text at a special service on November 3rd, 1935, “If it were not so I would have told you.” On Monday evening following, the congregation of Knox church, honoured their minister, Mr. Mathieson, with a program, assisted by the Acton quartette, at the close of which Mrs. Mathieson was presented with a large bouquet of chrysanthemums and Mr. Mathieson an envelope containing a gift of money by the congregation.
On Friday evening November 15th, 1935, a gloom was cast over the entire community when the last summons came very suddenly to the Reverend Peter Mathieson.
The following tribute was directed to be inscribed in the sessions records.
We would like to place on record a tribute to the life and character of our beloved minister, Reverend Peter Mathieson, who after a brief illness passed away at the manse, Morriston, on Friday, November 15th, 1935. In all his teachings, he ever emphasized that Jesus the Eternal Son of God suffered and died in our room and stead “the Just for the unjust” that He might bring us to God and that He sure will come again, that they who believe on His name may live and reign with Him.
Wherever sickness or sorrow entered a home, Mr. Mathieson felt it with those afflicted and eased much of the burden and pain by his sympathy and his prayers to our Lord and Saviour. As the sheep feel lost and frightened without the shepherd’s kind voice and tender hand so do these congregations feel without their under shepherd and guide.
Although the good shepherd has passed beyond, not in vain were his teachings and his example here on earth, for always in the hearts of his flock, his life will be an inspiration.
On Monday November 18th, 1935, a public funeral service was held in Duff’s church from the pulpit from which he had so often proclaimed the Gospel Message. The service was in the charge of the Guelph Presbytery. At the request of Mrs. Mathieson, Rev. A.C. Stewart of Chalmers Church, Toronto, preached the sermon. Interment was in Crieff cemetery. Six of the elders from Knox and Duff’s churches were pallbearers.
To Mrs. Mathieson and Isabel and his brothers and sisters these Kirk sessions jointly extend their heartfelt sympathy. May the Heavenly Father ever grant them His loving presence and may they receive His richest blessing where ever their lot may be cast.
Reverend James L. Burgess was inducted into the joint pastorates of Knox church, West Puslinch and Duff’s church, East Puslinch on August 12th, 1936.
Reverend Burgess was born in Orono, Ontario. He attended the University of Toronto and Knox College, Toronto, where he obtained his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in Anthropology. He met his wife, the former Mary Mitchell, at Kintail Presbyterian camp in Kincardine. They were married the year he graduated and commenced his ministry at South Kinlos. He then accepted a call to Knox church, West Puslinch, and Duff’s church, East Puslinch. Mr. Burgess was secretary to the Toronto-Kingston synod while in this charge. Mr. Burgess had pastorates in Orangeville, Elmvale, Alliston, Hagersville, Hanover, Hull, and Puce Presbyterian church in Windsor.
Mr. Burgess was an active member of the local horticulture society. He was a faithful worker in the Puslinch Red Cross, sponsored the honour roll, conducted the patriotic service in 1942, the unveiling of the honour roll in the Township hall, Aberfoyle, when a large number of Puslinch residents were in attendance.
Reverend Burgess was of a sociable disposition and had many friends, both young and old. While living at the manse, Morriston, he raised bees and had a great horned owl which made considerable excitement in the town.
Reverend and Mrs. Burgess have three children, William J. Burgess M.D. F.R.C.S.(c) F.A.C.O.G. of Ottawa, Marian Joan (Mrs. Alan MacLean) and Andrew of Kincardine.
Mr. Burgess passed away in June 1973 and Mrs. Burgess in November 1973. Interment was in Kincardine cemetery.
Reverend Thomas George Macintosh Bryan was inducted by the Presbytery of Guelph as minister in Knox church, West Puslinch and Duffs church, East Puslinch on March 24th, 1943.
Reverend Bryan was born in London, Ontario, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Arthur Bryan. His father Mr. Thomas Bryan was an elder and Sunday school teacher, and his mother Mrs. Bryan was a missionary society member in New St. James church in London, Ontario for many years.
Mr. Bryan was brought up in New St. James Presbyterian church, London under the ministry of Reverend James MacKay D.D. and was one of a number who entered the ministry during Dr. MacKay’s pastorate.
Mr. Bryan received his public and secondary school education in London.
Mr. Bryan graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1934 from the University of Toronto and received his theological training from Knox College, Toronto, graduating in 1938. He attended Louisville Presbyterian Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky, graduating in 1942 with a Bachelor of Divinity degree.
Mr. Bryan was ordained to the ministry by the Presbytery of Pictou, Presbyterian church in Canada on July 5th, 1938 in St. George’s church, River John, Nova Scotia. He served as minister of the pastoral charge of River John, Tony River, Brule and Middleton until December 31st, 1942 when his ministry was terminated to return to Ontario. Mr. Bryan was elected Clerk of Presbytery of Guelph in June, 1945.
On November 2nd, 1946, Reverend Bryan and Miss Elizabeth Florence Stevenson, daughter of the Reverend and Mrs. Nathaniel Stevenson of Toronto were married in Knox College Chapel, Toronto.
Reverend Bryan preached his farewell sermon in Knox church Crieff on Sunday May 17th, 1953, after ten years as minister and was inducted as minister of St. Columba church in Hamilton on May 22nd. After nine years in Hamilton, he was inducted as minister of Knox church, Windsor, on March 30th, 1962, where he is still ministering to a large congregation.
Reverend Hugh Wilson was inducted as minister of Knox church West Puslinch and Duff’s church, East Puslinch by the Presbytery of Guelph on January 3rd, 1957.
Reverend Wilson was born in Newtownards, Northern Ireland in 1906. After some years in business, he felt the call to full time service in the church. After studying at the Bible Training Institute in Glasgow, Scotland, he proceeded to India where he served with the Bhil Mission field of Western India under the Irish Presbyterian church for sixteen years, 1932-1948. He, with his family, came to Canada early in 1949, under appointment with the Mission Board in Lloydminster, Alberta. Mr. Wilson’s education academically and theologically were obtained in Ireland, Scotland and India. Subsequent ministries were Beaverton, Avonmore and Cookstown, Port Elgin, Knox West Puslinch and Duff’s, East Puslinch, Shakespeare, Avonmore and Cookstown, all in Ontario. Before retiring, he accepted a Mission charge in Centreville and Millbrook, Ontario for a year and a half. After retirement, Reverend Wilson accepted a part time position on the staff of Cheyne Presbyterian church in Stoney Creek, involving mainly a ministry of visitation with the minister of the church, Reverend John Allison.
Owing to the untimely and tragic death of Reverend and Mrs. Wilson's seventeen year old son James, Mr. Wilson’s ministry terminated in Puslinch on September 30th, 1958.
Reverend Wilson passed away suddenly on November 17th, 1974. He is survived by his wife, the former Mary Dunlop, one son Kenneth of Toronto and one daughter, Eleanor (Mrs. James Illman) of Stoney Creek. Interment was in Crown cemetery, Puslinch , Ontario.
Reverend Douglas Gordon was inducted to his pastoral charge at Knox Church West Puslinch and Duffs Church, East Puslinch on September 4th, 1953, coming from Vernon, British Columbia.
Mr. Gordon was born in Peking, China in 1926. His parents, Reverend and Mrs. Moore Gordon were missionaries in China and Taiwan for twenty years. He came from California to Canada in 1932, attended high school in Hagersville, Ontario and normal school in Hamilton. Mr. Gordon taught school for one year in Beamsville. Reverend Gordon received his theological training in Knox College, Toronto, graduating with the class of 1952. Mr. Gordon served in the Canadian Navy at the close of World War Two. He is married to the former Marjorie Kirk. They have four children, Debbie, Kirk, Paul, and Richard.
Mr. Gordon’s pastoral ties were dissolved with these congregations on May 31st 1956 to serve in the Canadian Army as chaplain for two years.
Reverend Leslie Nanson was inducted as minister of Knox church West Puslinch and Duffs Church, East Puslinch, on June 15th, 1959.
Born in Derby, England, in 1903, he came with his parents to Canada in 1920. He worked as an accountant in Hamilton, Toronto and Preston. Mr. Nanson was most active in church activities, serving as an elder, church school superintendent, and in mens' associations before entering the ministry.
A graduate of Knox College, Toronto, he served as assistant to Dr. Crawford Smith in Knox Presbyterian Church, Guelph for two years.
Mr. Nanson was married to the former Mildred Ryan in 1934 in Westminster Presbyterian Church, Hamilton. They have two sons, Robert J. of Scarborough and John D. of Waterloo.
After a twelve year ministry characterized by warmth, compassion and understanding, the congregation and community were deeply, saddened to learn of his sudden death on March 6th, 1971.
A tribute was directed to be inscribed in the session records of Knox Church which reads in part. "We, the session of Knox Church, Crieff in the light of the death of our minister Rev. Leslie Nanson on March 6th, 1971 would record our sorrow and thankfulness to God.”
While active in the Presbytery and the other courts of our church, he served this congregation as a most faithful pastor. He sought to proclaim the Word of God Sunday by Sunday, comforting, exhorting, warning and encouraging our people in the love of Christ. He took his place in the community and in the almost twelve years he ministered here, he has left his mark upon us.
We, on this occasion give thanks to God for the service of our former minister and we extend our deepest sympathy and commend the comfort of God to his wife and his sons Robert and John.
The funeral was held from Duff’s Church, Morriston on March 9th where the service was conducted by the Moderator of the Presbytery, Rev. W. Little of Hespeler. Dr. Crawford Smith of Knox Church Guelph and Rev. R. Forbes Thomson of St. Andrew's Church Guelph participated in the service. Interment took place in Crown Cemetery, Puslinch.
Reverend F. Norman Young
Reverend F. Norman Young was inducted as minister of Knox church, West Puslinch and Duff’s church East Puslinch on September 26th, 1971.
Born in London, Ontario, he received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Western Ontario and graduated from Knox College, Toronto in 1946.
Reverend Young married the former Margaret Cameron of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in Knox College chapel in 1947. They have three children, Donald, who graduated from Knox College, Toronto in 1974, and two daughters, Elizabeth, now Mrs. Nigel Gunding and Eileen who is attending Ryerson Polytechnical Institute in Toronto, taking a course in Secretarial Science.
Previous to this charge Reverend Young has served in Marshfield, P.E.I., Montague, P. E. I., Kirkland Lake and Georgetown, Ontario. Mr. Young also has two brothers serving in the Waterloo-Wellington Presbytery, Rev. Willis Young of Fergus and Rev. Arthur Young of Palmerston.
While a centennial year is an appropriate occasion to recall past ministries with both pride and thanksgiving to God, the living church must always remember that its mission is in the present, and its most important challenges are in the future. It is Rev. Young's ministry under whose leadership Knox church, West Puslinch will face the challenges that lie ahead.
Margaret Young and her husband Reverend F. Norman Young, 1975.
by Olive Awde
At the turn of the twentieth century, the Session of Knox Church, Puslinch was composed of Rev. William Robertson, Moderator and Session Clerk and elders John Martin, William McAllister and John McAninch.
The long, fruitful pastorate of Rev. Robertson, which began in 1890 when he was called to minister to the united charge of Duff’s and Knox Puslinch, came to a close in 1906.
Rev. Samuel Lawrence was called to minister to the congregations of Duff’s and Knox in 1907.
The method of distributing the ballots for a vote on Church Union was discussed at the Session meeting held on January the 28th, 1912. The Session decided to divide the Congregation into districts and deliver the ballots at the home of each member or adherent. When the votes were counted on March the tenth, 1912, it was shown that 18 favoured union and 93 were against union.
As the three elders, William McAllister, John Martin and John McAninch were advanced in age, they felt that it was time to ask the Congregation to elect four new elders. The Session met on May 9, 1913 and passed a motion asking the Congregation to vote by ballot for four new elders.
When the ballots were counted on June 16th, 1913, it was found that W. S. Cowan, Archibald Scott, Alex Chisholm and James Blake were the choice of the Congregation. The Moderator was asked to interview these four brethren. The Moderator reported to the Session at the meeting held on the 27th of Sept., 1913 that he had met with the elders elect individually and W. S. Cowan had not seen his way clear to accept the call of the Congregation, but Archibald Scott, Alex Chisholm and James Blake had agreed to accept the office of Eldership. They were ordained and inducted into the office of Eldership on Friday, October 10, 1913.
On January 19, 1914 James Blake was appointed to the office of Session Clerk. It was agreed at this meeting that henceforth unfermented wine should be used at the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper.
James Blake was duly appointed Treasurer of the Session fund May 28, 1915.
The Session met on Oct. 21, 1915 to make plans to distribute ballots for another vote on Church Union to members and adherents. The vote took place on the last two Sundays of November 1915. The Session met on November 28, 1915 for the purpose of counting the ballots. The result of the vote was 12 for union and 70 against.
The Session minutes recorded their sense of loss sustained by the Session and Congregation in the death of Mr. John Martin, November 29, 1916. Mr. Martin was ordained and inducted to the Eldership July 19, 1891 and had continued faithfully to serve as an Elder for 25 years. He loved the Bible and was keenly interested in the religious training of the young. For a number of years he rendered faithful and efficient service as the Superintendent of the Sabbath School.
The Session also recorded their sense of loss sustained by the Session and Congregation in the death of Mr. William McAllister on the 22nd of March, 1917. Mr. McAllister was ordained and inducted to the Eldership on July 19, 1891 and thus had had the honour of serving the Church as Elder for nearly 26 years. Mr. McAllister was ever ready to support any movement that he believed to be in the best interests of the Master’s Kingdom.
Following a Congregational vote on January 10, 1917, the Session decided to purchase an individual Communion set.
The Session had lost two elders by death, Mr. Martin and Mr. McAllister. Mr. Chisholm had moved from the community, so steps were now taken to increase the number of elders. Robert D. McRobbie, William Sim, Fred Roszell and Archibald Fraser were the choice of the Congregation. The Moderator was asked to interview these four men with regard to their acceptance of the office and to report to the Session at a subsequent meeting. The moderator interviewed each candidate individually and reported to the Session that Archibald Fraser had declined to accept the office of Eldership. Robert D. McRobbie, William Sim and Fred Roszell had signified their willingness to serve as Elders. They were ordained and inducted into the office of eldership on Friday, May 24, 1918.
The long and successful pastorate of Rev. Lawrence terminated in 1919. The Session records the last meeting with Rev. Lawrence as Moderator on April 13, 1919.
Rev. K. J. McDonald of Galt acted as Interim Moderator until Rev. Stuart Woods accepted an unanimous call from Duff’s and Knox to become their Minister.
The Session welcomed Rev. Stuart Woods at his first meeting of the Session as Moderator on October 31, 1919.
Rev. Woods reported the death of elder John McAninch on December 14, 1919. Mr. McAninch was ordained and inducted into the office of Eldership July 19, 1891. He continued as an active elder until October 14, 1917 after which he was unable to attend the Session meetings due to failing health. Mr. McAninch was very interested in the religious training of the young. He served faithfully for many years as a Sunday School teacher and as the Sunday School Superintendent.
The Session met December 17, 1920 to purge the Congregational membership roll. The total number remaining on the roll after those names had been removed through death or by certificate was eighty-nine.
Mr. Woods reported that quite a large number of young people and children in the community had not been baptized. After some discussion it was decided to interview the different families and try to interest them in the subject of baptism and to make whatever arrangements they deemed necessary.
Mr. Woods, accompanied by an elder, visited families in the Congregation where the children had not received the sacrament of baptism. Several families asked to have the sacrament of baptism administered to their children.
A Congregational meeting was called for January 17, 1925 to discuss Church Union. Mr. Archie Scott was appointed to confer with the committee from Duff’s to arrange for speakers to present both sides of Church Union.
On May 15, 1925, the Session recorded the result of the vote on Church Union. Six had voted for union and forty-three had voted against. The vote of the Congregation had shown that the majority of members wished to remain Presbyterian.
Rev. Woods who had favoured Union, tendered his resignation. Mr. and Mrs. James Blake and William Bond withdrew from Knox, Puslinch Congregation as they favoured Church Union also.
Mr. Blake had served as an Elder from 1913 to 1925 and had faithfully recorded the Session meetings as Session Clerk since 1914 and had served as Treasurer of the Session fund since May 28, 1915.
The withdrawal of these faithful members was a great loss to the Congregation.
On November 6, 1925, the Session was pleased to welcome Rev. Peter Mathieson to his first meeting with them, as moderator.
Mr. Wm. Sim was appointed to the office of Session Clerk which had been left vacant when Mr. James Blake resigned.
On May 24, 1928, Mr. Robert McRobbie handed in his resignation as Elder which was accepted with regret by the other members of the Session. Mr. McRobbie had contributed much to the Church life and Sunday School by teaching the adult class in the Sabbath School. For many years he was a valued choir member and choir leader. He continued to be a faithful member of the Congregation until he was called by death January 31, 1961.
As the number of Elders was now reduced to three, the Session decided at their meeting on May 29, 1930 to ask the Congregation to elect two more elders.
Duncan McAllister and Duncan McDonald were the choice of the Congregation. When interviewed by the Moderator, they both declined to act.
Another vote to elect two elders was taken in April 1933. Charles Martin and James A. McPherson were the choice of the Congregation. Both elders elect, when interviewed by Rev. P. Mathieson and Fred Roszell, agreed to accept the office. They were ordained and inducted May 7, 1933 to the office of eldership.
At the Session meeting held on October 3, 1935, Fred Roszell and James McPherson were appointed to help Mr. Mathieson prepare a programme for a Memorial Service for those members and adherents who had passed to their Eternal Reward during the ten years of Mr. Mathieson’s ministry in Duff’s and Knox Puslinch. The Memorial Service was his last service as he himself was called by death on November 15, 1935.
On the motion of Mr. Sim, seconded by Chas. Martin, a tribute to the Rev. P. Mathieson was directed to be inscribed in the Session Record.
Rev. T.G. Marshall, Hespeler, acted as Interim Moderator until Rev. J.L. Burgess accepted the call from the Congregations of Duff’s and Knox.
On October 1, 1936, the Session had their first meeting with Rev. J.L. Burgess as Moderator.
Communication was received from the choir on January 23, 1938, asking the Session if it would be agreeable for the lady choir members to sit in the choir loft without hats during the Church service as they were procuring gowns and had not the financial means of procuring hats. Permission was granted by the Session on condition that the choir procure hats inside of a year.
At the October 3, 1940 meeting, the Session decided to order communion cards to replace the tokens which had been used at Communion services to this time.
The Congregation was divided into sections for the elders to distribute the Communion cards. This system was used for the first time in Knox Puslinch at the Communion service in January 1941.
Mr. Burgess’s Ministry of six years terminated in 1942. The last meeting recorded by the Session with Mr. Burgess as Moderator was held on October I, 1942.
On March 28, 1943, the Session welcomed Rev. T.G.M. Bryan to his first Session meeting as Moderator.
The Session recorded with sorrow the death on September 27, 1943, of Mr. Fred Roszell at the age of 61, who for 25 years was a faithful elder of this Church and who also served on the board of managers for many years and as secretary-treasurer for some years. “We thank God for his faith, his upright life and his service to others. We extend to Mrs. Roszell and her family our sympathy and pray that God will grant them His peace and comfort.”
It was agreed on the motion of Archie Scott, seconded by James A. McPherson to ask the Congregation to elect two more elders by secret ballot.
The Session met on December 29, 1943 to count the ballots cast for Elders. Wilfred Roszell and James McDonald received the highest number of votes. Rev. T.G.M. Bryan and James A. McPherson were appointed to interview these two men.
Rev. Bryan reported on January 9, 1944, that the two elders elect had been interviewed and that Mr. Wilfred Roszell had declined to accept the office of Eldership, however, Mr. James McDonald signified his willingness to accept the office. James Porteous, having received the third highest number of votes, was interviewed and he agreed to accept the office of Eldership. James McDonald and James Porteous were ordained and inducted at the regular Church service on January 16, 1944.
The Session minutes recorded their loss in the death of Mr. Archie Scott on July 9, 1947. “Mr. Scott was ordained and inducted to Eldership on October 10, 1913. Thus he had the honour of serving as an Elder for nearly thirty-four years. Mr. Scott took a deep interest in the affairs of the Church, especially in the welfare of the Sunday School which he served faithfully for many years as the Sunday School Superintendent. He was beloved by all who knew him on account of his kind disposition and keen sense of humour. We the Session record our thankfulness to God for his Christian life, his faith and his wise counsel in our deliberations as a Session.”
The Session and Congregation suffered a loss in the death of Mr. Charles Martin, February 16, 1951 at the age of 76. “Mr. Martin had been a faithful member of this Church and since his ordination as an Elder in 1933, has quietly and conscientiously performed his duties in that office. We as a Session wish to record our thankfulness to God for his faith and life and the helpful service he rendered to the Church. At the time of his death, he was representative elder from this Session in the Presbytery of Guelph. We would express our sympathy to Mrs. Martin and family in their bereavement and we pray that God will comfort them and strengthen their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ who is the resurrection and the life.”
On February 25, 1951, Rev. T.G.M. Bryan volunteered to act as Session Clerk as Mr. Sim was not able to carry on this duty due to failing health.
On December 7, 1951, the Session agreed to accept the resignation of Mr. Sim as Clerk of Session and Session Fund Treasurer and to express its appreciation to him for the conscientious service he had rendered since June 7, 1925.
Rev. T.G.M. Bryan was appointed Clerk of Session and James McDonald was appointed Treasurer of the Session Fund.
At the April 12, 1953 Session meeting, Rev. T.G.M. Bryan reported to the Session that he had received a call to St. Columba Church, Hamilton.
“For ten years Mr. Bryan had faithfully proclaimed the Gospel Message from the pulpit and Sunday after Sunday had diligently taught a Sunday school class.”
The Session of Knox Puslinch welcomed Rev. J. Douglas Gordon to his first Session meeting as Moderator and Clerk, September 18, 1953.
The Session recorded their sense of loss in the death of Mr. William Sim, who served this Congregation faithfully as an elder for thirty-five years, also carrying out the duties of Clerk of Session and Treasurer of the Session fund since 1925.
As there were only two elders remaining, it was agreed to ask the Congregation to elect two more elders by secret ballot.
Due to the indecisive nature of the vote, except for one candidate, Mr. Clarence Awde, who had received a clear majority, it was decided to elect only one elder at this time. Mr. Awde having signified his willingness to serve, when interviewed by Mr. Gordon and James McPherson, was ordained and inducted at the regular Church service February 27, 1955.
As there were now three elders, the Session agreed to relieve Mr. Gordon of the duty of being Clerk of Session. Mr. Clarence Awde was duly appointed Clerk of Session June 3, 1955.
After a ministry here of two and a half years, Rev. J. Douglas Cordon met with the Session on April 29, 1956 for the last time as Moderator before he left to take up duties in another charge.
Rev. Hugh Wilson of Port Elgin accepted the unanimous call of Duff’s and Knox. He was inducted on January 4, 1957 at Duff’s Church.
The Session met on January 28, 1957 to revise and bring up to date the Communion roll. The total number remaining on the roll after the names of those who had been removed by death or by certificate was 47.
Mr. Wilson’s ministry of less than two years was all too short. The tragic death of Mr. and Mrs. Wilson’s son, James, influenced Mr. Wilson in a decision to seek another charge.
The last meeting recorded by the Session with Mr. Wilson as Moderator was held on September 28, 1958.
Mr. Wilson will always be kindly and reverently remembered for his excellent Christian teaching of the adult Sunday School class, for his soul searching sermons and his fine leadership in the community.
Rev. Crawford Smith was again appointed interim Moderator. An unanimous call was extended to Rev. Leslie H. Nanson, assistant minister of Knox Church, Guelph. He began his ministry June 1959.
The Kirk Session and Congregation suffered a distinct loss in the death of James A. McPherson on May 9, 1963. Mr. McPherson will be long remembered for his faithfulness, as an elder for thirty years and Sunday School Superintendent for a number of years. The Session records its sincere sympathy to the bereaved family and its deep appreciation for Mr. McPherson’s loyal Christian service to the Church and the community.
As the number of elders composing the Session was now reduced to two, it was agreed on October 4, 1963 to ask the Congregation to elect two new elders. Jack McPherson and Richard MacMillan received the highest number of votes. Having signified their willingness to serve as elders, when interviewed by the Moderator, they were ordained and inducted at the regular Church service January 12, 1964.
In January 26, 1967 a motion was passed to hold preparatory Service on the Sunday preceding the Communion service.
As elder Jack McPherson had moved from the community, the Session made plans on September 25, 1969 to ask the Congregation to elect a new elder.
Mr. Alex McConnell, having received the highest number of votes, agreed to serve as elder when interviewed by Rev. L. H. Nanson and James McDonald. He was ordained and inducted at the regular Church service December 14, 1969.
The Session and Congregation suffered a severe loss in the sudden death of their beloved Minister, Rev. L. H. Nanson on March 6, 1971.
It was moved by Clarence Awde, seconded by James McDonald that a memorial tribute be inscribed in the Session Records.
Dr. D.C. Smith again acted as Interim Moderator until Rev. Norman Young of Georgetown accepted an unanimous call from Duff’s and Knox.
The Session was pleased to welcome Rev. Young to his first Session meeting as Moderator on October 27, 1971. The Session agreed to hold a dedication service for a memorial plaque for Mr. Nanson on November 19, 1972.
At the 1972 Congregational meeting, it was decided to have a memorial to honour the late Rev. L. H. Nanson. Mrs. Richard MacMilIan, Mrs. Bruce Stewart and Mrs. John Griesbach were appointed to act as a committee. A marble plaque was ordered and a letter sent to all members for contributions. Mr. Jack Mast and Mr. Bruce Stewart assisted the committee with the plaque.
The dedication service was held on November 19th, 1972 with Rev. Robert Spencer, B.A., B.D., Moderator of the Guelph-Saugeen Presbytery as guest speaker. Mr. Clarence Awde, Clerk of Session, unveiled the plaque. Rev. Norman Young conducted the service and Miss Diane McConnell was organist.
Mr. Nanson had come to us in 1959 and through his faithful and devoted work had won our esteem and respect. He was a leader who played his part in the community, always seeking to enrich life around him. With his warm and kindly ways he endeared himself to everyone. He died on March 6, 1971, after 12 years in our midst. He exalted Christ by his faithful devotion and added a large measure to the spiritual dimension of our lives.
The New Revised Book of Praise was introduced to the Congregation on Sunday, January 28, 1973.
As according to the decision of the Supreme Court of the Church, only one representative elder is permitted for one charge, though two or more congregations compose that charge, it was agreed by the Sessions of Duff’s and Knox, that every third year the representative elder should be from Knox, Puslinch.
The Representative Elders from Knox since 1911 were:
left to right- Richard MacMillan, Clarence Awde,
Rev. Norman Young, James MacDonald, Alex McConnell
In 1864, the Women’s Missionary Society, Montreal, was organized and had as its motto "Thy Kingdom Come". The Women’s Foreign Missionary Society was organized in Toronto in 1876. In 1883, that Society adopted as its motto “The World for Christ”. The Women’s Home Missionary Society, organized in Toronto in 1903 (which really developed out of the Atlin Nurses committee set up to meet the needs of miners in the Klondike in 1898), had as a motto, “Canada for Christ”.
Side by side, these three organizations widened the vision of women in many congregations in Quebec and west to the Pacific coast. Settlers were going West. The buried wealth of Canada was being uncovered and where people went there were needs, both spiritual and physical. The church must go with people. One specific need was for nurses in the Klondike at the time of the Gold Rush in 1897-1898. Doctor James Robertson, superintendent of missions had roused the church to action. Ministers went, and seeing the need, asked that nurses be sent. Again Presbyterian women responded. The Atlin Nurses Committee was formed. Funds were raised, nurses were sent. Shortly after this, Doctor Robertson wrote “Nothing now remains but to organize a Women’s Home Missionary Society, and in such a movement Toronto should take the lead”. Dr. Robertson’s appeal stirred many congregations and within them groups of women organized to support “Home Missions”. The story of “Home Missions” is an exciting one.
Not until June 1904 did the women of Knox church, West Puslinch link up with this missionary activity. The organization was effected by Mrs. William Robertson wife of the minister of the church at that time and assisted by Mrs. Watt of the Guelph Presbyterial, who gathered a small group of the women of the congregation in the vestry of the church and organized the first Missionary Society of Knox church, West Puslinch. Mrs. John Patterson was elected president, Miss Agnes Grey, vice-president and Miss Jane McAninch secretary treasurer. The members of the society were very sorry when two years later Mrs. Robertson, who had been a great help in carrying on the work moved away. One year later, Mrs. Patterson also moved away. Miss Grey was elected president in her place. The membership fee was twenty five cents and the journal of the society was called “The Missionary Messenger”.
From 1903-1914, the three societies worked side by side. The Women’s Missionary Society, Montreal, chiefly in Quebec, in Ontario and western congregations had both a Home and Foreign Society. As early as 1907, discussions about joining the Societies began. Finally in 1914, on May 15th, the three Societies joined forces, their motto “The World for Christ”. The vision of each was widened to include the others.
The disruption of 1925 did not seriously affect the Women’s Missionary Society throughout the church. It was quickly reorganized and today continues to do a great and important work through its various auxiliaries. The name selected for the Societies magazine was the “Glad Tidings”.
In June 1940, Knox church Crieff celebrated their centennial. The Women’s Missionary Society held a special afternoon meeting. Mrs. Gamble of Guelph brought greetings from the Guelph Presbyterial, Mrs. Hodges from Duff’s Church auxiliary and Reverend Mr. Burgess from the Guelph Presbytery and the Kirk session of Knox church, Crieff. Others taking part from Knox church auxiliary were Mrs. William Sim, Mrs. Duncan McDonald, Miss Florence McPherson, Mrs. William A. McCormick, Miss Margaret Scott, Mrs. Dan McDonald, Mrs. Thomas McMurray, Mrs. James Porteous, and Mrs. Alfred Reid. Former members and guests were Mrs. Jean Mathieson, a former minister’s wife, Mrs. Howard-Rokeby Thomas, a former member of the congregation and Miss Fawcett of Hamilton.
As an auxiliary of the Women’s Missionary Society of the Presbyterian church in Canada, Knox auxiliary has contributed to bales and allocations.
The World’s Day of Prayer meeting is held on the first Friday in March, each year, one of the local churches hosting the meeting.
Within the Guelph Presbyterial, now named Waterloo-Wellington, Knox church has been a responsible member. Miss Margaret Scott was Home Helper secretary 1956-1958 and Mrs. John Griesbach Recording Secretary 1969-1974.
The ladies of Knox church auxiliary have hosted the Guelph Presbyterial at their rally on different occasions. In June 1974, the executive of the now named Waterloo-Wellington Presbyterial was hosted by Knox church auxiliary.
Down through the years these meetings have been carried on faithfully and hopefully. For a time they were held in the vestry of the church, later the members kindly opened their homes to try and gather in more Home Helpers, who found it easier to get to a home nearby than to go some distance to the church.
The June meeting of our Women’s Missionary Society has been held jointly with our sister congregation, Duff’s church Women’s Missionary Society since 1925, with the hosting of the event alternating, and with the visiting auxiliary providing the program. In June 1974, the Knox church ladies commemorated the centennial of the Presbyterian Church in Canada by taking their program, styled on the last century, complete with costume, to the joint meeting, hosted by Duff’s church Women’s Missionary Society.
At the local level, the members have met monthly, except for July and August, afternoon meetings prevailed until 1963 when the society opted for evening meetings to accommodate young mothers.
Several bequests have been received from deceased members. The first life membership was presented to Mrs. Fred Roszell by her mother Mrs. John McAninch. The number of life members since 1940 is seventeen.
At the present time this society is still sending out the Good News with Mrs. John Griesbach as president, Mrs. Frank Rolfe, vice-president, Mrs. John Mast, 2nd vice-president, Mrs. Norman Young, honorary president, Mrs. Fred Spencer, secretary, Mrs. Edward MacDonald asst. secretary, Mrs. John Fixter treasurer, Mrs. Alex McConnell, Asst. Treasurer, Mrs. Stuart MacDonald, literature and Glad Tidings secretary, Miss Margaret Scott, bale secretary, Mrs. Scott Fixter and Mrs. Frank Rolfe, Friendship and Service secretary, Mrs. William A. McCormick and Mrs. Harry Huffmon, Home Helper secretary, Mrs. Stuart MacDonald pianist.
The work of the Women’s Missionary Society throughout the Presbyterian Church in Canada is so varied and so vast that it is hard to realize that it all has been accomplished in these past few years.
Knox Church Women’s Missionary Society
Front Row- Florence McConnell, Margaret Griesbach, Betty MacDonald, Lorna MacDonald,
2nd row left to right- Dora MacMillan, Margaret Young, Muriel Mast, Margaret McCormick, Beatrice Hobson,
Back row- Gerry Collins, Annie Mast, Margaret Scott, Evelyn Fixter, Norma Hobson, Janette Spencer, Margaret Rolfe.
by Donelda MacMillan
During the first World War the ladies of Knox Church congregation, Crieff, knitted various articles for the Red Cross and met in homes to pack boxes for our local soldier boys.
When the war was over the ladies organized a ladies aid society. The ladies held their meetings monthly, commencing at one o’clock in the afternoon, and generally quilted sometimes two large quilts for the hostess. A sumptuous lunch was served. The only religious part of the meeting was the singing of the grace before lunch. Each month the members each paid 25 cents.
Through the years the collection fee has not been changed. Cards and flowers are sent to the sick, and at Christmas baskets of fruit are prepared and distributed to the shut-in.
The earliest records available of financial credits and expenditures date from the beginning of 1929.
The ladies have had two quilt projects to make money. In 1930 and in 1963, the autograph quilts were made of blocks with possibly fifteen names embroidered on each block at the cost of ten cents a name. The quilt made in 1930 was sold for $5.00 and the one in 1963 sold for $35.00.
In later years the quilting demand, as well as the number of quilts has dwindled and their work projects at meetings vary from sewing quilt blocks for the Red Cross to mending choir gowns.
The ladies did not have a service of devotion prior to 1961 at their meetings when with the influence of the minister’s wife decided on having a worship time. The meetings are generally held at the members’ homes, occasionally in the church Sunday School room.
In 1963, when the congregation decided to enlarge the Sunday School room, the ladies aid group divided into four groups each with their own fund raising project in order to raise as much money as possible, the Friendship group, Busy Bees, Hills and Dales, and Willing Workers.
The ladies have had many projects to raise money. Each year they have a bazaar, when homemade baking, sewing and plants are for sale. In 1961, they had Schnieders meats of Kitchener provide the meat as an advertisement and a successful supper financially resulted. When a farm auction is held the ladies aid have a booth. During the winter months successful euchres are held in Crieff school monthly. On occasions, they hold a bake auction at these euchres. The ladies have purchased dishes, cutlery, a stove, Sunday School piano, pulpit falle, hymn chart, and presented a baptismal font to the church in memory of Mrs. Elizabeth Kerns. Innumerable purchases were made, even to a Santa Claus suit.
The ladies have made sizeable contributions to church, Sunday School, famine relief, missions and cancer society. The ladies are valued even more for their service to the community without monetary value. The sick, bereaved and the shut-in are very appreciative of their remembrances. They have assisted in church cleaning, painting church floors, making candy for children at the concert, serving lunch after funerals and visiting nursing homes.
Knox Church Ladies Aid 1975
Front row left to right - Dora MacMillan, Florence McConnell, Margaret Griesbach, Betty MacDonald.
2nd row - Margaret Young, Margaret Rolfe, Muriel Mast , Margaret McCormick, Beatrice Hobson.
3rd row - Betty Bongaard, Donelda MacMillan, Gerry Collins, Annie Mast, Margaret Scott, Evelyn Fixter, Lorna MacDonald, and at the back, Millie Lake.
by Lorna MacDonald
The first precentor who led the praises of the sanctuary by appointment was Mr. John Thomson, who led in both Gaelic and English during the occupancy of the first church, and for a time in the second. His successor was Mr. John McGregor, who also led in both languages; then Mr. Robert Stewart, who could lead only in the English services, while Mr. Neil Currie officiated as leader of praise in the ancient language. Mr. William McCormick Senior began to lead in both languages in 1864, and after a few years he was relieved of the English by Mr. Alexander Easton, who had an excellent voice. Mr. Alexander Murchison was assisted by a choir, and others occasionally.
Mr. McCormick continued to lead in Gaelic and when ninety years of age his voice of remarkable sweetness and power was often heard in leading the praises of the aged worshippers with solemn and patriarchal impressiveness. Such a sight is seldom witnessed, and when once seen can never be forgotten.
Mr. William McCormick Jr. began to lead in the English service about the year 1870. He organized a choir, and his passion for music made it a pleasure to train them with great proficiency. They obtained considerable prominence, and often received invitations to provide music for neighbouring church entertainments. He still continued to lead in both languages, having been precentor for nearly 30 years, and his organized choir gave promise to a good degree of proficiency.
The members at this time (1890) were:
Mr. William McCormick, Misses Aggie Martin, Katie Martin, Annie McAllister, Lizzie McAllister, Jane McAninch and Jennie Cowan.
Miss Maggie Cowan
Messrs. James Armstrong, Alex Cowan, R. D. McRobbie.
Messrs. Donald Stewart, Archibald McMillan, Duncan McAllister and Charles Martin.
At one time, the precentor stood in front of the pulpit and the choir sat in the front seats. It is also noted that people remained seated to sing and stood for Prayer. There was much opposition to using an organ, but when one was installed, it sat right against the north wall with two chairs on either side for the men and the ladies sat in front of the organ. On May 6th, 1910, the Session appointed Miss Hattie Munro as church organist. On April 14, 1918, Miss Cassie McCormick was appointed organist of the congregation as Miss Hattie Munro had moved from the community.
Misses Helen, Jane and Bessie McCormick all played the church organ. On April 22, 1923, Mr. Robert McRobbie was appointed by the Session to act as the leader of praise.
Mr. James Porteous was appointed organist and choir leader with Jean McPherson as his assistant at the Session meeting held June 4th, 1931.
On May 29th, 1941, Mr. James Porteous (who had returned to live in the community) was appointed organist and choir leader at an annual salary of twenty dollars. During this time a new organ was purchased and moved forward so the choir was mostly behind and at the sides of the organ.
When Mr. Porteous moved to Queenston, the Session met on July 9, 1946 and appointed Mrs. Gilbert Hobson organist and Miss Bessie McCormick as assistant.
Mrs. Hobson wished to be relieved of the responsibility of organist and choir leader, so the Session met August 19, 1947 and appointed Mrs. Horning as Organist and Choir leader and Mrs. Hobson as Assistant.
The Session met on July 10, 1949 for the purpose of appointing an Organist as Mrs. Horning was moving from the Community. Mrs. Hobson agreed to play the organ until another organist could be appointed. On December 7, 1951, the Session accepted the resignation of Mrs. Hobson and appointed Miss Anna McCormick to the position of Organist and choir leader. Miss McCormick left for college in September 1953 and Mrs. James McDonald played the organ, and was officially appointed organist and choir leader March 11, 1954.
In 1961 a Junior choir was formed, led by Mrs. Nanson. They sat in the front seats of the church at first, then when they got new blue and white gowns they moved to the choir loft and sat in front of the few remaining Senior choir.
In September 1964, Miss Margaret Ann McConnell was organist and in 1966, Mr. Kenneth McConnell took over as Mrs. McDonald was unable to continue because of illness. Mr. Kenneth McConnell resigned from this position May 23 1968, and Mrs. James McDonald agreed to play the organ again. She resigned January 28, 1973. Her resignation was accepted with regret. The Session expressed their appreciation for her many years of faithful service as organist.
Diane McConnell was appointed organist Sept. 1972, and in May 13, 1974 her resignation was received.
September 24, 1974, Mrs. Alex McConnell was appointed organist and Choir leader. At this time, the Choir has a very few Junior or Senior members.
Left to right
- front row.
Jane Fixter, Carol Paddock, Debra MacDonald, Linda MacDonald, Sandra McConnell, Diane Huffmon,
Kenneth McConnell, Mary McPherson, Mrs. Alex McConnell (organist) Hugh MacDonald, Mrs. Philip MacDonald
From left to right.
Front row –
Second row –
Back row –
Kenneth McConnell, Neil McMillan, Mrs. James McDonald (organist). Mrs. Nanson (choir leader). ___________Drone,_________ Drone,
Carolyn McDonald , Sharon McDonald, Ted Rolfe, Ann Marie Drone. Donnie McConnell, Kenneth Mast.
Gwen McConnell, Edith Denotter, Earla Awde, Beverly McMillan, Paul McDonald, Jack Denotter.
Mildred Kerns, Lorna Maltby, Verna Caldwell, Mrs. Gordon McAllister, Florence McPherson, Evelyn Hunter.
Mrs. Hunter, Mrs. James Porteous, Edith MacDonald, Mrs. Duncan McAllister, James Porteous, Grace Stewart, Mrs.. James McDonald, Mrs. Ernie Plumtree.
Duncan McAllister Charles Plumtree, Jack Porteous, Mr. Ernie Plumtree, Mr. Ralph Elston.
Left to right. Donald A. Stewart, Mrs. Duncan McAllister, Duncan McAllister, Mrs. James Porteous, Katherine Gregor, Nettie Porteous. At back. Mac Stewart, Winnie Tennant, Mina MacDonald, James Porteous, Edith MacDonald, Helen Porteous, Jean MacPherson, Janet Martin, Mrs. Ernest Plumtree, Pearl McMurray and Jack Porteous.
Knox Church Choir 1911.
left to right
left to right
Jennie McPherson. Hattie Munroe (organist), John Frey (choir leader), Mary McKnight, Lottie McAninch,
Walter Cowan, Katie Stewart, Mary Stewart, Robert McRobbie, Maude McCormick, Matthew McAninch.
Mr. John Frey of Morriston was choir leader for a number of years.
The Sabbath School in Knox Church, West Puslinch was organized many years ago in the old log church when Reverend Meldrum was the minister. Mrs. Neil McPhatter, who took a great interest in the school, was the chief worker and was the superintendent. She was well qualified for the position and for years conducted efficiently the exercises of the school and taught the Bible class. In the year 1866, William C. Armstrong, later Rev. William C. Armstrong, Ph.D., of Thessalon, while teaching the Crieff Public School also took an active interest in the Sabbath school and added much to its prosperity. Mr. John Currie, who had two brothers, Presbyterian ministers living on lot 34, Rear Gore, 1st concession, Puslinch, and later Rev. John Currie of Belmont, was also a prominent worker in the Sabbath School and contributed much to its success. During the protracted vacancy preceding Rev. William Robertson’s pastorate, the Sunday School was kept in operation when Mr. Wm. Kannawin, who was the teacher in the public school, manifested a great interest in the spiritual welfare of the young people and kept the Sunday School in operation. Mr. Kannawin continued as Superintendent and Bible class teacher until he left the section to pursue his studies for the ministry of the church. His successor was Mr. John McAninch, who with the new public school teacher, Mr. James McDonald was in charge of the Bible Class. Mr. McDonald terminated his relationship to the section when he retired to prosecute advanced studies. Mr. John Martin was called to superintend the Sunday School and Mr. James Armstrong, the public school teacher, like his predecessor, manifested an interest in religious life and was invited to be Bible Class teacher.
In the year 1899 when “Presbyterianism in Puslinch” was written, the staff was Mr. John Martin, superintendent, Mr. Duncan McAllister, secretary treasurer, the teachers were Messrs James Armstrong, John McAninch, Walter Cowan, Misses Agnes Grey, Maggie McPherson and Lizzie McAllister. Miss Maggie Cowan was organist and leader of singing was Miss Agnes Martin. The number of scholars on the roll was 85 and the average attendance of scholars was 48 and the average attendance of teachers was 9. Sunday School was open about eight months of the year. Mr. John McAninch was appointed Sunday School Superintendent in the early nineteen hundreds and continued as such for fifteen years. Mr. Archibald Scott was appointed Sunday School superintendent about 1915 and continued until 1940 when Mr. James A. McPherson was appointed. The suggestion that envelopes be used for the monthly Sunday School missions was approved by the session on May 14th, 1945. On April 6th, 1948, James A. McPherson resigned as superintendent and Mr. Charles Maltby was appointed Sunday School superintendent for one year.
In April, 1949, Mr. James McDonald was appointed Sunday School superintendent. The session met on February 16th, 1963, with the superintendent and Sunday School teachers and after some discussion it was agreed to have Sunday School continue throughout the winter months. Mr. James McDonald wished to be relieved of the duties of Superintendent and Miss Mary McPherson was appointed Sunday School superintendent on January 28th, 1965. Sunday School was given permission to close July and August for summer vacation. August 1st, 1973, Miss Mary McPherson resigned as Superintendent. Mrs. Alex McConnell and Mrs. John Mast agreed to act as joint Superintendents.
Bible class and Sunday School teachers include Rev. Lawrence, Rev. Woods, Rev. Mathieson, Rev. Burgess, Rev. Bryan, Rev. Gordon, Rev. Wilson, Rev. Nanson, Mr. Simon Morlock, Misses Jennie McPherson, Agnes Grey, Mary Cowan , Elizabeth McPherson, Jane McCormick, Margaret McPherson, Mrs. John Sawyer, Mrs. Clarence Awde, Margaret Scott, Earl Bond, Mrs. Thomas Bryan, Mrs. Bert Bennett, Mrs. Stanley Mast, Mrs. Fred Spencer, Mrs. John Mast, Mrs. James MacDonald Mrs. Kenneth Martin, Mrs. Douglas MacRobbie, Carolyn MacDonald, Mrs. Donald McConnell, Mrs. Bryce Burrows, Mrs. Alex McConnell, Margaret Ann McConnell, Mrs. Richard MacMillan, Miss Mary McPherson and Mrs. Edward MacDonald.
At the present time, the Sunday School has an attendance on the roll of 31 with the average attendance of scholars 22. Mrs. Bryce Burrows is secretary treasurer and Mrs. Alex McConnell, pianist. The number of teachers is 4.
Knox Church Sunday School 1975
Sunday School Christmas concert 1954.
by Stuart MacDonald and Edward MacDonald
The history of the Young Peoples Society organization and its church activities have been quite difficult to trace as the young people in the congregation are continually changing and at times there are not enough to form or maintain an organization.
The first group formed was known as the Guild in the days of Rev. Samuel Lawrence, and it met in the homes and in the vestry.
It is probably only a coincidence that about that time the old custom or practice of holding prayer meetings was gradually passing away and the organizing of young peoples’ societies may have partially replaced the old order.
The minister was usually instrumental in starting a young peoples group but sometimes there were enough willing and capable young people to carry on very successfully on their own efforts.
To understand the importance of these local groups, it must be remembered that before the year 1920 or even 1930, conditions were entirely different to our present society. There was no radio or television, and the horse and buggy was the main transportation system. One member of a family would attend high school in the nearest town, while the rest remained in the community on the farm. The need for social or recreational activities was obvious and young peoples societies quite frequently were successful in supplying this need.
The organization of Young Peoples groups was not continuous but rather were formed according to the number of young people in the community. We recall active groups in the period of 1920 to 1950, but are unable to associate actual minutes of these meetings. Under the supervision of the minister, a president and executive were selected. Devotional, Literary and Social committees were appointed to arrange the programs which were held in the homes or the church twice monthly. These programs were quite interesting , taking the form of debates, current events, discussions, spelling or geography matches, usually concluding the season with a banquet and in the summer a picnic in a suitable park. These meetings gave talented young people an opportunity to speak or sing and meet the public which no doubt was of benefit to many in later life.
We note that Col. J.B. Maclean was a guest at one of these banquets and visiting with neighbouring societies was also a pleasant and sociable occasion.
At the annual congregational meeting in January 1965 a request was made to organize a Young Peoples Society under Rev. Leslie Nanson, and their first meeting took place in February. They attended a convention in Kitchener in April and a Field Day in Fergus in May. The Young People held a tea in the Church Sunday School room in May and a car wash in June to sponsor a needy child in Germany.
This Young Peoples Society lapsed in 1970 until 1975, when it was re-organized under the present minister Rev. Norman Young. They meet every Monday evening with an average attendance of 25 members.
Young Peoples Group, Knox Church, 1975
The following is the Honour Roll of those associated with Knox Church, Crieff, who served in various branches of the military service in World War I, 1914-1918.
Robert J. McPherson
and in World War 2, 1939-1945.
John F. MacDonald
Inscribed on a plaque on the church wall is the following inscription:
who paid the supreme sacrifice
in the war of 1939-----1945
Clarence H. Huffmon
John I. McDonald
Donald R. McDonald
David L. Priest
Their name liveth for evermore.