From May 21 2023 to our anniversary, November 12 2023, check social media every day (FaceBook, Instagram) or this page, to see new historical tidbits about our church’s life, growing up in Brighton Ontario.
What to expect
Section one: building history
Section two: Members Stories
Section three: Evolution of our faith
Section four: Impact on our community
Section five: Why do you like coming
Section six: Indigenous relations
Section seven: Where are we going.
The manse of many uses
After 1990 the manse was used as offices for the minister and church secretary and meeting rooms. A downstairs washroom and full kitchen was added allowing the 7 UCW units to hold their meetings there. In 2012 the manse was renovated and redecorated to provide a much need rental unit for our community. This enabled the church to bring in a small income that would contribute to financing the new hall.
Is it a Parsonage or a Manse?
A parsonage was built a short time after the 1849 church was built the actual date is unknown. The two-story building is also a gothic design built with a field stone foundation and clay bricks similar too the church. It was occupied by ministers and their families up to 1990 with Rev. Fred Edmondson and his family being the last. This stone is found at the back entrance to the Parsonage.
From near and far…….
Did you know that our church had a barn to house the horses? Trustees gave permission in 1903 to build a drive shed to shelter the horse and buggy’s allowing people from the country to drive their horse and buggy to church. The cost $214.44 to build. The old drive shed was located on the North corner of Chapel and Prince Edward (today there is a yellow house which was moved to that location in 1910 from the CNR right a way). A newer drive shed was built south of the church.
Bring on the children….and the food…..
A Sunday school hall was built in 1902 attached to the west end of the church. The hall was used as a Sunday school room, meeting room and gathering hall with a small kitchen at the South end. A more modern kitchen was installed in 1959 with the idea of preparing meals in the kitchen. This developed into the “Meals on Wheels” program in 1974. Meals were prepared and delivered in the church kitchen every Tuesday with volunteers rotating from area churches. The meals program evolved and today operates in our commercial kitchen serving delivered and sit in meals feeding 100 or more per week.
The organ gets charged…….
The 1905 organ had mechanical bellows, someone had to crouch behind the organ and manually pump the bellows. (Imagine the sign-up sheet for that task). When the church got electricity in the 1920’s the bellows no longer required manual pumping. In 1945 the organ was modified to allow the action between the organ and pipes to be electrically operated. The organ was then moved from under the pipes to its current location. This was all done in time for the centennial celebration of the church in 1948.
The church organ evolves……
In the early days of the church a reed organ was installed, in 1902 when the Sunday school hall was added ladies aid of the church met with the trustees and offered to repair, paint and install carpeting in the sanctuary if they would put in a tracker pipe organ. The ladies held a concert in the Town hall charging 35 cents admission and canvassed the congregation and netted $900. In 1905 the new organ built by R S Williams and Sons was installed beneath the organ pipes in the church.
The mystery that is still not solved. How did they get this large bell 40 feet in the air and placed inside some 30 years after the steeple was erected. The bell assembly is larger that any opening in the steeple and the hatch from the sanctuary is only 30 x 24 inches. Remember, the bell and assembly weighed 1200 lbs.
The gift…………The thankyou……
Dr. Whittier an elder with the Methodist congregation of Brighton and friend of Mr. Butler who together owned vast areas of land and many businesses. Dr. Whittier left the area in 1836 to reside in St. Louis USA. In 1871 Dr. Whittier donated a large bell with the inscription “The fatherhood of god, the brotherhood of man, presented by Clarke Whittier 1875”. A letter of thanks and gratitude was sent in 1871 from the Brighton congregation.
LET THE CHURCH BELL RING…….
The bell was cast in 1870’s by the company Meneely and Kimberley Bell Co., located in Troy New York USA. The bronze bell measures 24 inches high with a 34 inch diameter at the mouth. The bell is hung from a cast iron yoke supported in a cast iron frame. The estimated weight of the whole structure is 1200 pounds. When the rope is pulled a large wheel rotates pivoting the bell assembly making it ring.
THE STEEPLE RISES…..
The central mass projects upwards about 40 ft. There are eight poles that rise from the base forming a pyramid shape. The eight sides allow for heavy winds to blow around the steeple sides, creating a back pressure to prevent the steeple from wind damage. (Survived the tornado of 73). The workman signed the centre mast with HTB Aug VI, 1849.
WE HAVE THE CHURCH NOW WE NEED THE STEEPLE….
The steeple built in 1849, stands about 60 ft tall. The base (broatch) is an 8x8 ft structure rising about 20 ft above the church. This part of the steeple houses the bell. Today you can see the louvers which allow for ventilation and allow the sound of the bell to be heard by the community.
To get the slope of the sanctuary floor the crossbeams and stumps are sized starting at the front entrance this allows the floor to be level with the front entrance. As the floor progresses west to the choir loft, the beams and stumps are decreased in height to create the downward slope.
LET THE LIGHT SHINE IN…….
Seven stained glass windows in the church were installed by Robert McCausland of Toronto during
1942-1989. These windows are memorials to the Morrow, Dunnett and Maybee families. The last
window in memory of the Britnell family depicts a woman to honour all Christian women through the
ages. (Many assume it is the Virgin Mary however this was not the intention).
PHEW! SOMEWHERE TO SIT THE PEWS ARE DONE………
Wooden pews are estimated to be original to the first 1849 build with more crafted with the expansion
in 1871. Pews were constructed using joinery and glue. The nails and screws you see today are from
later repairs. A novel practice is the early days was to rent the pews to church families, this is thought to
be tithing to raise money for the life and work of the church. This practice stopped in 1921.
THE CHURCH GROWS…….
Construction of the transept began in 1871, adding wings to the west end of the church. This was done
to accommodate a very large and growing congregation, estimated to be about 500 members. On June
10, 1871 Rev Dr. Wood of Toronto, former president of the Canadian Wesleyan Conference laid the
UNDERFOOT and UNIQUE…….
Beneath the floorboards there is a dirt crawl space. The floorboards sit on heavy beams that rest on
wooden stumps that sit on the dirt. The uniqueness - the floors float between the exterior walls and are
not secured to them.
PUTTING IT TOGETHER….
The roof structure is primarily post and beam and consisted of mortised and tenon joinery and fastened
with a tapered wooden peg. This was common practice of the day in homes, barns and buildings in the
area. Metal nails weren’t popular as they had to be made and were very costly.
ROOF GOES UP…….
Pine timbers used to create the roof and steeple were harvested from “Bear Hill” (McConnell Farm in Spring Valley). The large beams used were hued by hand and axe (axe marks can still be seen) and the boards were cut at the Butler sawmill.
Using field stone sourced from local farms a five-foot deep trench was dug in the outline of the church. Stones were stacked to create the foundation walls to a width of 16 to 18 inches, using a lime mortar mix to bind the stones making for a strong foundation.
KEEPING IT LOCAL…..
Clay used to produce the bricks was harvested from Brighton Bay it was formed and fired in kilns located on the Butler farm now owned by the Tobey family. If you look at the old bricks on the church today, you will see the different colors caused by the temperature changes in the kilns.
Mr. Workman a builder from England and his helpers started construction of the Gothic style church taking an estimated two years to complete.
The original footprint of the structure was 38 by 50 ft.
IN THE BEGINNING…
Tiring of holding outdoor saddleback services the Elders decided it was time to build a permanent Methodist/Wesleyan worship church. The Butlers responded by donating a parcel of land and $100 to start construction in the late 1840’s