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HISTORY

The Story of One Hundred Years of St. James's Parish, Orillia


This year the parish of st. James's Orillia, is celebrating its centenary. We stand on the threshold of a new century and look back over the years, feeling deeply thankful to Almighty God for His guidance, and His presence with us, as year by year our parish has grown and expanded. We humbly pray that God's blessing may continue to rest upon us as we face a future of unparalleled opportunity for service in a world that is passing through the most critical period in its history.


As we look back, may we sense something of the courage, foresight and self-sacrifice of those splendid men and women who were the pioneers of this parish and who, with God's help, laid firmly and well the foundations of the Anglican church in this community.


Officially, St. James's, Orillia, came into being in the spring of 1841, but we must go back several years years beyond that date to find its earliest beginnings.


The first white settlers came to Orillia in 1832. Less than two years later, the Rev. Adam Elliott, a traveling missionary, held the first Church of England service in the new settlement. Mr. Elliott was sent out by "The Society for Converting and Civilising the Indians and Propagating the Gospel Among the Destitute Settlers in Upper Canada."

The popular abbreviation was "the S.P.G." His district extended from Lake Ontario to Georgian Bay and from Bowmanville to near Oakville. Mr Elliott thus records, in the report he made to the Society, his first visit to Orillia:


" On Sunday, October 13, 1833, I read prayers and preached in Southern Orillia, at the house of Mr. Sanson, near the village at the Narrows. As previous notice had not been generally circulated, and the weather being unfavourable, only about twenty persons were present. But if the congregation was not numerous, it was very respectable and attentive.

In the evening I preached to the Indians in the school house at the village. Comparatively few of the Indians being at home, not above sixty or seventy of them attended, one of whom interpreted my lecture to his brethren. They appeared to be very attentive and devout and sang well; some of the females were rather noisy in time of prayer but not to a great extreme. on the following morning I visited the Indian school, but there were scarcely any children in attendance, as most of them had gone with their parents into the forests. The site of the village is admirable. The cottages, which are built of logs, stand near each other on the summit of a gentle declivity, fronting a beautiful bay, from which the village has with the Indians of the Narrows, but Yellowhead, one of the principal chiefs, afterwards assured Captain Anderson (a friend, guide and interpreter for Elliott) that he was highly pleased with the lecture."


Mr. Elliott continued to make periodic visits till 1836, when he was moved to another field. He mentions the assistance given him on several occasions by Mr. Atkinson, whose daughter, Mrs. Robert Mainer, is still living in Orillia.


Only two months after this first service, the diary of Captain John Thomson records a service by the Rev. C. C. Brough, one of the pioneer settlers, who continued to hold services from time to time for several years. Captain Thomson mentions that Mr. Brough administered the Sacrament for the first time on the 1st of April, 1838.


The Rev. George Halle , who came to Medonte in 1835, as incumbent of St. George's also held occasional services in Orillia, as did the Rev. F. A. O'Meara.




These occasional services were usually held in the homes of the settlers. But they inspired a desire for a regular place of worship, which was expressed in the following petition to the Justices of the Peace. The original document, still in fair state of preservation, is in the office of Mr. F. G. Evans. Quoted verbatim it reads as follows:-

To

John Thomson, Esg.

and Lieut. Andrew St. John. Esq.,

Justices of the Peace.


Gentlemen:

We, the undersigned Freeholders and Inhabitants of the Township of Orillia, considering that there hitherto has been no provision made for Religious Worship for those in connection with the Churches of England and Scotland, or for education within the township.


Do hereby request you to call a meeting of the Inhabitants thereof, on an early day, to consider the propriety of erecting a building, suitable either for the purpose of a Church or Schoolhouse.



Orillia, 24th March, 1836.


John Drinkwater

J. H. S. Drinkwater

A. Borland, S.G.A.

G. Ferguson Wn. Mulock

Jas. Sanson

Charles J. Robinson, M.D.

J. Darling

Fred Dallas

James Dallas

James Dallas

John J. Roe

Gerald Alley

J. Grovernet

J.M. Lawrence

John Harvie

William Sibbald

Paul Darling, Surgeon L.M.

Robert Bailey

Alex Lorimaur

Michael Bowers

Henry Fraser

William Johnston

Jacob Gill

John Finch

Alex Sanson

Joseph Kent

George Thomson

Robert Leith


Several of the names in this document are of special interest, for they link those for away years to our immediate present.



For instance - John Thomson, Esq., Justice of the Peace, was the grandfather of Mr. F. G. Evans, Orillia. John Drinkwater and J.H.S. Drinkwater were the great-grandfather and grandfather, respectively, of Messrs., John and Harold Drinkwater, Wm. Mulock was the grandfather of Ontario's "grand old man" Sir William Mulock, Toronto.


Evidently, this petition brought forth good results, for we read that on April 24, 1841, the Rev. John McIntyre preached in Orillia church. He was the first resident clergyman of this parish, and remained with the congregation for eight years, striving to establish it upon a firm footing in the community.


The first place of worship was the old Indian Council Chamber, erected in 1831 by the Government, on approximately the same site as the present Sunday School building.

Early missionaries of all denominations held services here, and it became known as the Old mission House. As the Anglican Church was the first to have a regular clergyman in orillia it became the first Anglican church. When its usefulness as a church was over it was moved to another site, bricked, and is in use today in modified form.


St. James first rectory was a building on the present rectory grounds. It also was built in 1831 by the Government for Chief Yellowhead and exists today on Front-street.


Chief Yellowhead died in 1865 at nearly a hundred years of age, professing faith in the Christian religion. His body lies in the church yard.


The old Crown Grant of land on which the church stands and also the deed in connection with the purchase of the rectory grounds are preserved at the Synod house, Toronto. The Indians were moved to the Rama Reserve in 1838 on complaint to the Government of some of the white inhabitants that they had no proper outlet to the lake. The whites lived chiefly on what is now West-street, south, and on Colborne street.


The first Vestry meeting of this parish was held on June 19, 1841, and the minutes are written in a firm, clear style. We quote them verbatim.


1841- Vestry Orillia Church.

19 Th. June, 1841-Which day a meeting of the inhabitants was held for the purpose of nominating Church Wardens to hold office from this date until Easter next.


The Rev. John McIntyre nominated John Drinkwater, Junior, Esq., on his part, and the meeting unanimously appointed James Sanson Esq. as church wardens.


The meeting also appointed Messrs. Thomson, Alley, Church and Scott a committee to apply for land on which to erect a school and teacher's house for the use of the Town of Orillia. - John Mc Intyre, Chairman.


The word Town as applied to Orillia at that time speaks well for the ambition of the inhabitants. As no further mention is made of this school and teacher's house it is probable that the transaction fell through.


 It is interesting to note that during the second Vestry meeting of this parish, of which Mr. Thomas Dallas was clerk, it was arranged the -2 pounds 10s per annum be paid for the cleaning of the church.  Also, that a set price of 5s be paid for digging and filling a grave, with 2s 6d in addition to the sexton's fee to be paid to the wardens for maintaining a good and substantial fence enclosing the burial ground.  The above sums to be paid upon every interment.


 From 1841 to 1849 we notice the following names in the records: - J. Drinkwater, J. Sanson, J.H.S. Drinkwater, J.J. Roe, W. Lloyd, A Rutherford, C.J.

Rowe, B.R. Rowe, John Thomson, Gerald Alley, Church, Dr. Caddy, W.C. Hume,

W. Mullock, J. Scott, Sibbald, Robert Bailey, Dr. Ardagh, T. Williams, J. Kent, McPherson, A. King, John Burkitt.


 Financial problems cropped up in those early years even as now.  Firewood had to be bought and taxes paid.  These expenses were met at first from a collection taken on the first Sunday in the month and from pew rents.


 In the minutes of the Easter Vestry, 1846, we find an interesting item:  It was resolved to pay all the pew rents to the Incumbent for his own use, he agreeing to give back 10 pounds to the wardens, "for which they are truly thankful".  From this it would appear that the Incumbent was not overpaid, as pew rents  were -1 pound per annum and single sittings 5s each, payable half-yearly.


 In 1849, the Rev. John McIntyre moved to a larger field and his place was taken by the Rev. George Bourn.  In 1850 we notice the appointment of a sidesman for the first time, Mr. Edward Croker.


 Into the Vestry meeting of 1851 came two innovations, namely:  Mr. J.H. Drinkwater was appointed to accompany the rector to Toronto to represent the laity at a meeting there.  This was the forerunner of the appointment of lay delegates to the Synod.  And Mrs. Scott was thanked for her donations to the church through the year.  This is the first time a woman of the congregation comes into the records.


 Reading between the lines we see how the Rev. George Bourn had endeared himself to the congregation in the short time he was with them, for the following resolution was passed unanimously at the Easter Vestry in 1853: - That this meeting desires to record its sympathy and condolence for the Rev. Geo. Bourn, who has been called upon by the Almighty to endure long and continued bodily suffering.  Mr. Bourn had sustained a fall from his horse, which caused his severe illness and subsequent death in August 1853, after only four years of service in the parish.  There is a stone tablet to his memory in the church grounds.


 A request was sent to the Bishop as to the steps to be taken to replace Mr. Bourn, and eventually, the Rev. Thomas Bolton Read, D.D., became Incumbent of the Parish in October 1853.


 During the period 1849 to 1853 the following new names appear in the records:  G.W. Bell, J. Quinn, J. Langman, G. Hunter, C. Garrate, R. Bainbrigg, Daniel Perry, Thos. Atkinson, Capt. Monck, T.N. Portas, R. O'Brien, E. Ryall, Edwin Slee, Edward Croker, Wylie, R. George, D.L. Sanson.


 Now, we enter upon another stage of development in the life of the church, during the incumbency of Dr. Read, 1853 to 1862.


 At the first Vestry meeting under the chairmanship of the Rev. T.B. Read, in 1853, Mr. John Burkitt, of Orillia and Mr. George Hallen, of St. George's, Medonte, were appointed lay delegates to accompany the rector to the "Lord Bishop's Visitation" in Toronto in October, their expenses to be paid out of the church funds.  These two gentlemen had the honour of being the first lay delegates to the Synod from the parish.


 Measures were also devised at this meeting for the raising of a stipend for the clergyman, other than pew rents.  This Parish was a Mission in these early days and as such, received some financial aid from the S.P.G.


 By the fall of 1854 the urgent need of a new building in which to worship was felt.  Accordingly, in October a special Vestry was called to devise measures for the erection of a new church.  A committee comprised of the Incumbent and Wardens, with Mr. J.H.S. Drinkwater and Dr. Ardagh, was formed, with power to adopt such measures as they might deem necessary for the erection of a new church.


 It is evident that the committee set to work with a will, for we read that in August, 1857, the new stone church was officially opened.  The Rev. Dr. Adamson and the Rev. C. Brough assisted at the opening services.  The capacity of the new church was 300.


 Dr. Read was warmly thanked by the congregation for his untiring efforts, under God's guidance, in bringing this fine new church to completion.


 A beautiful east window was donated to the new church by Mr. James Brown and Dr. Bovell, and at a special Vesty meeting in August, 1857, a resolution of thanks was tendered these gentlemen, this vote to be inserted in the "Colonist".


 In 1861, at the Easter Vestry a vote of thanks was passed to the lady collectors for the splendid sum they had brought in towards the church debt, 30 pounds 17s Od.  This must have meant a great deal of work, when we consider that subscriptions were only a York shilling a month.  This was the first time that mention of the ladies was made, as being definitely active in church affairs.  From that date until the present they have grown increasingly helpful - 80 years of faithful service.


 Names of the lady collectors were given as follows:  Miss Notter, Mrs. King, Mrs. George King, Mrs. Read, Mrs. Tipping, Mrs. Elliott, Mrs. Bailey, Miss Thomson.


 At this Vestry, too, a vote of thanks was tendered the choir for their "successful exertions" under the leadership o f Mrs. George King, organist.  Our parish is progressing - a ladies' Society and a choir!  Just about this date also, the church used a name for the first time ---St. James's, Orillia.  Formerly it was known as the Orillia church.


 In May, 1862, the Rev. T.B. Read, D.D., was appointed by the Bishop to the parish of Thorold.  During Mr. Read's ministry in this parish -9 years -its growth spiritually and materially was very marked.  For the last part of his term he was assisted by Rev. John Creighton.  Mr. Creighton married a daughter of Dr. Read and one of the sons of this marriage, the Rev. W.J. Creighton, is now living retired at Bradford, Ontario.  Dr. Read was succeeded in St. James's by the Rev. A. Stewart, whose incumbency lasted from 1862 to 1888.  Mr. Stewart held his first service on June 8, 1862.


 One of the first things done under Rev. A. Stewart was the completion of the tower on the new church and the purchase of a bell, in the early fall of 1863.


 But alas! disaster soon overtook the new tower and bell, for we read of a special meeting called on November 16, to consider action in regard to the accident which befell the tower during the night of November 14.  From the amount of debris which had to be removed, it is clear that the tower and bell evidently came down into the vestry of the church.


 A resolution of thanks was passed at this meeting to the Rev. John Gray, who had so kindly allowed this congregation to meet in his church, while ours was considered unsafe.  An evidence of kindly Christian co-operation.


 Names appearing in the reports from 1853 to 1864 are as follows:  Messrs. A Smith, Geo. J. Booth, Geo. Quail, Chas. Corbould, Ben Wheeler, Geo. Lewis, Heavener, T. Elliott, Marcus McMullen, Kean, Capt. Steele, Wm. H. Fitton, J. World, Dr. Corbett, Arthur Robinson, Frank Evans, F.C.M. Fraser, Atchison, Boys, Dunn, Geo. Vick, S. Warren, H.S. Scadding.


 A happy little incident occurred at the Easter Vestry meting in 1865.  It was made known that the Rector's surplice was beginning to show the ravages of time and a second one was deemed necessary.  Immediately a number of ladies and gentlemen came forward and subscribed $11.50 towards the new surplice.  The ladies were present at this meeting in sufficient numbers as to be complimented upon their attendance.


 It was during the year 1865 that the foundation of the church appeared to be in a dangerous condition, and in response to this emergency the ladies of the "Industrial Society", under Mrs. Tipping, gave generous financial aid.  The personnel of this Industrial Society was as follows¨ Mrs. Tipping, leader; Mrs. Corbould, Miss Thomson, Mrs. Read, Miss Ardagh, Miss Notter, Mrs. King, Mrs. Elliott, Mrs. Drury, Mrs. Bailey, Miss Stewart and others.


 In 1869, a light gallery was built across the west end of the church, and this was used by the choir.  Mr. Booth grained the front of the gallery and donated a chandelier.  About the same time some kind unknown person presented a handsome chair and cushion to the choir.  So, all in all, the choir at that date, must have felt quite well equipped.  But that isn't all.  They now began to sing the chants, a thing hitherto unheard of.  Mr. Daniel G. Hewett, a gentleman of musical ability, then resident at Atherley came over regularly to train St. James's choir, and at the Easter service.  1869, for the first time the chants were sung, in a very creditable manner.


 In this little incident we have an interesting link with the present, for Mr. D.G. Hewett was the great-grandfather of Mr. H.A. Burnet, People's Warden during the last five years.


 Passing on to 1872, we read that a resolution was brought forward regarding the purchase of a new burial ground for the Church of England, owing to the growth of the Village, the said burial ground to be owned and controlled by the Vestry and consecrated.  This ground was purchased in 1873 and Mr. F. Evans was appointed Secretary of a Committee to look after all cemetery business.  This responsibility was passed on from father to son, Mr. F.G. Evans of our day still acting in that capacity.


 From time to time, through these years we find much discussion centering round pew rentals.  Sometimes part of the pews were rented and part were free.  Rents were raised and lowered, and at times abolished altogether, only to be resumed at a later date.  But finally, all seats were free, and the clergyman's stipend made up from the Sunday collections through the envelope system.


 People were kind and generous in the early days, too, even as they are, today.  There were always pleasant little incidents cropping up.  For instance, a Mr. Thos. Moffatt lived adjacent to the church property.  The fence between was scarcely worthy of the name, so Mr. Moffatt at his own expense furnished the materials and erected a new fence.


 Again, a very necessary part of church equipment in that horse-and-buggy era was a shed.  So we find, Mr. B.R. Rowe supplying the material and the labour for large new sheds.  These sheds stood behind where Dr. Woodrow's residence now stands.  They were divided into stalls and were free on Sundays.  During the week, however, anyone wishing to use them procured a "key" and paid $2. per annum for the privilege of using a stall.


 From 1864 to 1875, many new names appear in the records:  Messrs. Thos. World, Geo. H. Hale, Ellis, Alport, John McCosh, Beaton, Jephson, Muntz, C. Hewett, Wright, Capt. MacNamara, J. Tucker, Geo. Whiting, Berry, Calverley, Alfred Haywood, Paine, John Wilson, Jones, G.I. Bolster, Wigmore, Burnet, Seager, Burkinshaw, F. W. Armstrong, Benner, Passmore, Rix, Boulton, Carpenter, A. Fowlie, S.S. Robinson, Baxter, Hamilton, Robt. Sanderson.


 These names do not represent all the congregation, but only those credited with presence at the Vestry meetings from time to time.  However, so many appearing at this period show the steady growth of the parish, and we find that enlarged church accommodation was deemed necessary.  A new Sunday School building was spoken of; also either a new parsonage or improvements to the present one.  The one thorn-in-the-flesh in those days, as well as today, was lack of finances.  However, the congregation seemed to go ahead on faith, and the money always came from somewhere.


 About 1880 and 1881 the choir is mentioned quite frequently.  It was evidently progressing under Mr. Armstrong as leader and Miss C. Stewart, organist.  Children's voices were added at this time, and a new organ was purchased for $700.


 At the Easter Vestry, 1882, a request was made through the Incumbent to the Choir that anthems be sung occasionally.


 At this date, there was no Executive Committee or Advisory Board.  The entire Vestry had to be called to meet when the necessity arose.  In 1887, the Vestry met and adjourned four times in three months.


 Here is an amusing incident.  At the Easter Vestry in 1885 a motion was brought in that the church services be held at 11 a.m. and 7 p.m., respectively, and that the bell be rung 10 minutes before each service - the time to be regulated by Mr. Murphy's clocks.  (Query - Where were the clocks?)


 It is interesting to note the exactness of the wording of the motions, brought up from time  to time.  

As for example - Moved by Mr. Beaton, seconded by Mr. Alf. Robinson, that Mr. Evans be a fit and proper person to be a lay representative.  Duly elected.


 In 1882, the Rev. Rural Dean Stewart suffered a long and severe illness, and it was thought advisable to procure a curate to assist him.  The Rev. J.O. Crisp held that position for two years, and was succeeded in 1884 by the Rev. W.. Armitage.


 At the Easter Vestry of 1883, we find the ladies marked present for the first time.  Those in attendance that evening were:  Mrs. G. Wright, Mrs. R. Ramsay, Miss Thomson, Miss Stewart, Miss M.A. Evans, Mrs. F. Evans, Mrs. Geo. Bolster.


 The Ladies' Industrial Society this year decided to change its name to Ladies' Aid - a less cumbersome name perhaps, if not so expressive.


 In 1885, as a means of encouraging the finances of the church, it was decided that the Wardens prepare a weekly statement showing the offertory of the previous Sunday, the average weekly sum required for all purposes, and the deficiency up to date, (if any), and post the said statement in the church porch.


 The attendance at Vestry meetings during this period was often 75 and 100.  On one occasion, amongst those marked present, were Mrs. Sheppard and family - what a worthy example!


 In 1886, we notice a decidedly modern touch in the proceedings, when the ladies were warmly thanked for the success of their "bazaar".


 Mr. H. Greenland was appointed Vestry clerk for this year - 1886, which position he held continuously, except for one brief absence, until 1923, when increasing deafness made it impossible for him to carry on.  Mr. Greenland, during his 37 years in office, chronicled much of the history of this parish in his own distinctive, clerkly handwriting.


 In September, 1888, the Rev. Rural-Dean Stewart tendered his resignation, after 26 years as Incumbent of St. James's.  He was succeeded by the Rev. Richard W.E. Greene, formerly on the staff of St. James' Cathedral, Toronto, and latterly city missionary in St. Louis, Missouri.


 New names appearing on the records 1875 to 1889 are as follows: - Messrs. Alywin Ward, H. Greenland, Helliwell, N. Baker, A Ramsay, W. Norton, C. Grant, A.R. Kittermaster,, C. Wood, A.T. Millichamp, B. Murphy, M. Stevenson, J.J. Hatley, Geo. Tipping, Sloane, G.S. Jaquith, W.G.G. Dreyer, Jas. Walker, H. Boyes, French, E.J. McDowell, Geo. Matthews, H.F. Sinclair, Jupp, Vernon, Stevens, Dr. A.E. Ardagh.


 When the Rev. Mr. Greene took charge of this parish the following were officers of the church:

Wardens: - Mr. Frank Evans, Mr. B. Murphy, Sidesmen: - Messrs. Hatley, Greenland, Matthews, Haywood, Marston, Booth.

Vestry Clerk: - H. Greenland.

Organist: - Miss C. Stewart.

Choir Leader: - Mr. Jaquith.


 One of the most vital and far-reaching events in the life of St. James's took place in 1890, when a branch of the Women's Auxiliary was formed on January 27.  Mrs. R.W.E. Greene was the first president of this little band of faithful women, which position she filled most capably until her death in 1906.  The other officers of this new organization were:  1st. Vice-President, Miss Jane Thomson; Recording Secretary, Miss Lucia Smith; Corresponding Secretary, Miss Alice Stewart; Treasurer, Mrs. S.S. Robinson; Rector's representatives, Miss Elizabeth Rowe, Miss Crockford; Dorcas Secretary, Mrs. T.H. Sheppard.


 Later a Girls' branch was formed, with Mrs. C.A. Gossage as superintendent.  Also a baby branch known as the Sunbeams, with Fanny Thomson as Superintendent.


 Fifty active years of service in the cause of missions passed by and in 1940 these three branches united to fittingly celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the W.A. in this parish.  The celebration took the form of a corporate Communion service on Sunday, January 28, and a banquet for all women of the congregation on April 16, at which Mrs. Owen, wife of Archbishop Owen, was the speaker.  Another interesting item on this programme was a resume of W.A. activities given by Mrs. F.G. Evans, Recording Secretary of the afternoon branch for over thirty years.


 During the first year of the incumbency of the Rev. R.W.E. Greene, the main efforts of the congregation were directed towards the building of a new church.  Suggestions were made to enlarge the existing edifice, which was very dear by early associations to many of the parishioners.  It was found, however, that the foundation and walls were not strong enough to stand additional weight, so a new structure was decided upon.  The old stone church was pulled down and new one build on the same site.


 Plans were submitted, and those of Mr. W.H. Croker were accepted.  A building committee was chosen and various means of financing the project were put into action, and by March, 1891, the third S. James's church in a period of fifty years was ready for worship.


 The opening day was chosen, March 15, but unfortunately it was preceded by one of our most furious mid-winter storms, which often strike in March.  Roads were completely blocked.  The Bishop of the Diocese, who was to have preached at the opening, could get no farther than Barrie.  So the Incumbent took his place in the morning and the Rev. John Jones, of Medonte parish, in the evening.  In spite of the storm the church was filled at each service, and the offering amounted to nearly $1,000.


 It was a day of happiness mixed with sadness, for many could never give any church the place in their affections of the old one.  However, the welfare of the parish most always come before private feelings, and everything was over-ruled for good, for we read that during the Easter Vestry of the year, 1891 a resolution carried by a standing  vote expressed the most heartfelt thanks to the Rev. Canon Greene for his arduous part in bringing to completion the beautiful new church, with the hope that he be long spared to minister to the spiritual needs of St James's parish.


 During the period 1892 to 1896 we notice the parish assuming wider parochial responsibilities, for in addition to the reports of the Wardens and Sunday School given at the Vestry meeting there are reports from the Ladies' Aid, the Flower Mission, Choir, Band of Hope, Woman's Auxiliary, District Visitors, Church of England Temperance Society, Infant Class, Brotherhood of St. Andrew and Irish Society.


 In 1894 the "Talent-holders" made contributions to the Church fund amounting to $423.


 An orchestra was added to the choir in 1896.  It was during this year, too, that the venerable Rural-Dean Stewart entered into rest, after a long and useful life of 92 years.  Steps were taken to erect a suitable tablet to his memory in the church.


 A rather sad note was struck at the Easter meeting in 1897 when mention was made of a growing indifference among the male members of the congregation.  Consequently an "Indifference Committee" was formed to inquire into the matter and suggest a remedy.


 On Sunday, November 28, 1897, the evening musical service was introduced at the request of the Vestry, the morning service remaining in the old form.


 The years 1900 to 1903 saw the purchase of a new organ, the erection of a beautiful new Sunday School building and the additions of the missions of Atherley and Longford, necessitating the appointment of a curate.  The Rev. R.A. Armstrong of Waterloo took charge as curate in June, 1903.


 Those of us who remember the Rev. Canon Greene will call to mind his artistic ability along many lines.  In 1903, he presented the church with a beautiful eagle lectern, his own workmanship, for which he was warmly thanked.


 The next few years were a very happy time in the life of the parish.  The church and Sunday-school were new and well equipped.  All organizations were functioning successfully, and the spiritual life was deepening, under Canon Greene and Rev. R.A. Armstrong, who had grown very dear to the hearts of the congregation.


 Then, it came like a bolt from the blue-the destruction of the beautiful church and organ by fire on Sunday morning, March 19, 1905.


 Was the spirit of the people broken by this dire disaster?  No.  They rose to the occasion manfully.  A Vestry meeting was called in a week's time to plan for the immediate restoration of the church, while sincere thanks and $25 were tendered the Fire Brigade for the gallant efforts to save the building.  Also thanks to the management for the use of the opera house for several Sundays.


 The hearts of the Rector and congregation were warmed by the many letters of sympathy received from Bishops, Clergy, old members and old friends, all giving comfort and re-assurance that a church even more beautiful would arise out of the ashes of the old, to the glory of God and the good of the congregation.  And it was so.


 A building committee was formed immediately.  Plans to finance the restoration were formulated and on October 1, 1905, approximately six months after the disaster, the church was re-opened.  In its restoration the building was more beautiful than ever.  Many improvements had been made.  The ceiling and beams were raised four feet, the west porch enlarged, a choir room added and the north vestry enlarged.


 The organ was restored, with improvements added.  Complete steam heating and electric lighting plants were installed.  Many beautiful memorials and gifts, also were placed at this time.  A list of these will be found elsewhere.


 On the opening day the church was crowded at both services.  The preacher was the venerable Archdeacon J. Fielding Sweeney, M.A., D.D., later Bishop of the Diocese.  A very liberal collection was indicative of the thankful hearts of the congregation.


 New names recorded from 1890 to 1905 are as follows:  D.L. Hill, R. Wade, W.B. Tisdale, E.C. Roper, J.D. Knox, W. Hicks, E.H. Farrow, W. Davidson, C.A. Gossage, A.M. Snelgrove, C.W. Diggle, J. Owen, A.A. Wilson, B.W. Hatley, D.H. Church, Capt. Drinkwater, J.H. Pearce, Newsham, A.B.S. Webber, C.H. Hale, F. Smith, C.B. Janes, F.W. Tanner, J.M. Mitchell, G. Farwell, W.C. Gilhooly, R.L. Elliott, W.C. Goffatt, Geo. Leacock, H. Channen, W. Pack, Ramsford, Geo. Walker, M. Warren.


 For a few months all went well.  Then, in April, 1906, the parish sustained a very definite loss in the death of Mrs. Greene, wife of the Rector, who had endeared herself to all hearts by her bright, cheerful Christianity and who had successfully discharged the duties of many offices by her exceptional executive ability.  A very beautiful resolution of sympathy was tendered the Rector by the Easter Vestry.


 In the spring of 1907, the Rev. R.A. Armstrong resigned, to accept a larger field of opportunity in St. John, N.B.  the Rev. C.D. Ovens filled the vacancy for a few months, only to resign in March, 1908, to accept a chaplaincy in England.


 Canon Greene carried on alone for the next few months, the missions at Longford and Atherley being disconnected from this parish.  However, in April, 1909, the Rev. H.D. Raymond became Curate.


 Various improvements and extensions were made during the last two years of Canon Greene's ministry.  The Advisory Board came into being.  A vested choir was introduced in 1909.  The cemetery showed continued improvement under Mr. F.G. Evans.


 Sunday-school extension work was begun at Mount Slaven and the Gill -Street Mission.  In 1910, and again in 1911, the Ladies' Aid gave $1,000 towards the church debt, which was greatly appreciated.


 In October, 1911, the Parish was bereft of both its Rector and Curate, and the new Incumbent was the Rev. J.R.S. Boyd, at that time assistant at the Church of the Redeemer, Toronto.


 Names appearing in the records, 1905 to 1917 are as follows:  F.L. MacGachen, C.E.C Newton, H. Griffin, Langton Gilbert, B. McCollum, R.C. Hipwell, H. Gover, W.R. Geikie, G. Burchall, R. Hopkins, E.R. Went, G. Cole, W.J. MacFadden,.C.S. Eastwood, E.A. Wood, Thos. Price, F. S. Lewis, W.K. Greenwood, H. Goss, F. Pellatt, B. Mainer, H. Outridge, C. Fournier, W.G. Singer, F. Gover, R.J. Carson, W.B. Wright, J.S. Blickensderfer, M. Grant, W.M. Hale, G. Blackwell, J.G. Atwood, E. Lord, A.C. Young, Jas. Street, S. Brennan, Jas. Calhoun, A.G. Cavana, T.J. Muir.


 During 1912 and 1913 a very important piece of extension work was begun and brought to completion, namely, the building of the South Ward Mission.  This Mission, under the leadership of Mr. David Church and Mr. Russell Hale, has done a marvelous work, the extent of which is known only to the Master.


 It was in 1914 that lady members of the Vestry were first allowed to vote- surely a forward step in church management.


 We have grown accustomed now to the fact that the fiscal church year runs from January 1 to December 31.  Up until 1916 it ran from Easter to Easter.


 In 1918, another practice to which we have grown accustomed, was adopted- the plan of having the choir sing a hymn on entering and leaving the chancel.


 The years 1914 to 1918 were years of national stress.  The first Great War was being waged, and we find St. James's parish giving lavishly of the cream of its manhood for the cause of justice and righteousness.  Ten members of the congregation won military honours in those fateful years and twenty-six made the supreme sacrifice.  Steps were taken for the erection of a suitable memorial.  This very beautiful memorial is in the south window of the transept.


 1921 was one of the most prosperous years in the history of this parish.  Every phase of church work indicated healthy growth and the financial statement showed not a dollar of debt on capital or current account.


 1923 was a year of unprecedented sickness in the parish.  The Rev. Mr. Boyd made 200 calls over any number made in any previous year.


 Now we come to 1927 when several important advances were made.  The Rev. D.G. Atkinson was appointed curate.  A group of C.G.I.T. girls was organized.  A troup of Boy Scouts was formed under Mr. C.K. Hewitt, and St. Athanasius Chapel came into being.


 This mission at Mount Slaven was made possible by the gift of a chapel from the late Miss E. Rowe, and it has filled a very great need in the west end.  The pulpit was at first supplied from St. James's, but since 1931 has been served from Medonte Parish.  The first wardens were Mr. W. Rix and Mr. H. Cresswell.


 The building has lately been enlarged and redecorated and is now a very beautiful little chapel.  There is a thriving Sunday-school and W.A. and a good attendance at the church services.  The spirit of this little group of Christian workers is admirable.  May God's blessing continue to rest upon them in the future, as in the past.


 In 1928 the Rev. J.R.S. Boyd resigned to become chaplain at the Western and General Hospitals, Toronto, and was succeeded in March, 1929, by the Rev. D.M. Rose, who had recently returned from India.


 In accepting the resignation of the Rev. Mr. Boyd after a ministry of 17 years in the parish the Vestry expressed very real appreciation of the deep spirituality, untiring devotion to duty, consistency, unselfishness and generosity that characterized his life and work in the parish.


 The following names appearing on the records bring us from 1918 up to recent years:- J. Whitton, Amos Train, W.H. Croydon, Geo. Peacock, H. Leach, R.F. Hoare, A. Crossman, R. Burnet, Jno. Taylor, Horace Burnet, H. Doig, R.J. Green, T.J. Bucknell, J.W. Mercer, Alfred Hawkins, J.C. Hughes, W.E. Scott, H.R. Niebel, F.C. Smyth, Geo. Brown, F.W. Hewitson, C.J. Bean, P.M. Roberts, L. Newton, J.A. Shaw, A. Coxworth, W. Hooper, A.J. Lloyd, S. Stevenson, W.E. MacDonald, W.H.R. Burrows, Wm. Laycock, J. Johnston, A. McPherson, J.W. Hartnell, M. Barber, R.A. Street, J.W. Ashton, C.H.S. Butterworth, T.R. Lewers, H. Drinkwater, W.H. Stanton, A.G. Cavana, Jr., H. Crokam, A. Jackson, J.S. Drinkwater, F.B. Stephens, Robt. Street, E. Thornton, Geo. Sinclair, C.W. Tobey, R.L. Stubley, A. Harp, R.B. Atlee, H. Campkin, H. Tissington,

W.A. Masters, H. Davidson, A. Penny, F.B.Brodriff, E.M. Pedwell, Dr. W.W. McPhee, G. Percy, Judge Hutchison, C. Walmsley, A.W. Starsmears, A. Boadway, C.S. Pim, K. McQuiggan, Fralick, Sheridan, R.F. Grant, Dr. Berry, A. Corrigan, J. Oatway, W.B. Wright.


 During the incumbency of the Rev. D.M. Rose, 1929 to 1934, the congregation had the great joy of seeing two of their young members leave to carry the Good News to distant lands across the sea.  In 1931, Miss Mae Walker, eldest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Geo. Walker, went to Japan and in 1932 Miss Jessie Carson, elder daughter of Rev. and Mrs. W.J. Carson, left for Kangra, India, each carrying with her the best wishes and earnest prayers of the congregation to their chosen fields of labour.


 In 1932 there was the added joy of welcoming home Miss Bessie Quirt of the Arctic.  Miss Quirt was a teacher in the first residential school for the Esquimos in the northern diocese.  Two other young persons connected with this parish, also entered the mission field at other times, Miss Lillias Powell and Dr. H.H. Gilbert, the former going to Japan and the latter to China.


 In 1934, the Rev. D.M. Rose left to take charge of St. George's, Oshawa, and his successor was the Rev. L.A. Dixon whose ministry in the parish though short was productive of much good.


 During the first year of Mr. Dixon's incumbency it was gratifying to note that for the first time the missionary allotments of East Simcoe Deanery were paid in full.


 Mr. Dixon stressed the point always that we must focus our attention on the future rather than the past.


 Sunday-school teacher's training classes were started at this time, and they have proven very helpful.

 In 1936 Miss Mae Walker was welcomed home on her first furlough from Mid-Japan.  She is now with the Japanese Mission in Vancouver.


 In 1937 Miss Jessie Carson also returned from her first furlough.  She resumed her work in Kangra again in 1939.


 The Rev. L.A. Dixon resigned in January, 1938, to become Field Secretary to the M.S.C.C., and later General Secretary.  Then, to the Rev. A.G. Emmet of Port Hope came the responsibility of St. James's in April, 1938, a responsibility which covers an aggregate of over 700 Anglican families.  We look forward to many happy years of progress, spiritually, and materially, under the guidance of Mr. Emmet.


 The outstanding event in the first part of his ministry will be the Centenary Celebrations of the parish in April and June 1941, which we trust will do much to strengthen the ties which bind us to former years, and, more important still, will stimulate us with a greater Christian zeal and faith for the years that lie ahead.


 And now, St. James's, Orillia, has come to the end of a century of service for Christ in this community.  Through the gateway of that century has flowed a steady stream of men and women, young men and maidens, who have laid their individual talents, their time and their money upon the altar and have passed on.  Into those years, too, have come much sacrifice and self-denial, discord sometimes, failures and successes.  But through the whole fabric of the century there has run a golden thread of love and loyalty to the Master, and now, at its close, we humbly leave results with Him.


 The curtain drops - to rise again upon a new scene, a world torn by wars as never before, a world filled with fear and suffering and despair.  This world is our opportunity.


 "And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:  give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown!  And he replied:  Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God:  that shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way."


 In this spirit St. James's Orillia, marches on.

Orillia, February, 1941.



This history has been compiled by Mrs. Cecil H. Wilson from the minutes of 241 Vestry meetings held during the century.  Also from information very generously given by interested members of the congregation.

WALKING TOUR OF ST.JAMES

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