Since the first work in Ontario was at Parkhill and Forest, towns near the southern end of Lake Huron, we shall start there, then continue in the southwestern part of the province, proceed northeastward to Ottawa, then turn west and work our way through the northern reaches of Ontario.
The first brethren preacher who came to Ontario was Joseph M. Scriven, who wrote the much-loved hymn” What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” His grave can be seen at Bewdley, a village near Port Hope on Lake Ontario. He emigrated to Canada in 1845 after being estranged from his family due to his PB affiliation, settling first in Woodstock in southwestern Ontario, others have suggested Clinton may have been his first point of ministry.
When the Dominion of Canada was only four years old, a small group of believers began meeting to practice the principles taught in the Word of God. When Donald Munro first came to Ontario from Scotland in 1871, he visited his brothers in Parkhill and Forest, towns near the southern end of Lake Huron. A hall was rented in Parkhill and Mr. Munro preached the Gospel with blessing. His brother and sister-in-law were among those saved. From there he preached in Forest before returning to Scotland. When he returned to Canada in 1872 to stay, having learned of believer’s baptism, he taught that and other New Testament truths.
At Parkhill, God worked further in the salvation of souls. A good number of believers gathered to the name of the Lord Jesus at Parkhill that year, 1872. The Parkhill Assembly was the first ‘open brethren’ assembly in Canada. The following year, Gospel meetings were held again at Forest, and the Forest Assembly, ON was formed in that town.
Through contacts made in Forest, Mr. Munro visited Lake Shore, five miles north of Forest, and preached the Gospel and church truths in the Congregational church. Its minister asked him to leave, so he went across the road to the Hugh Johnson farm and taught there. Mrs. Johnson and her mother-in-law and father-in-law were soon baptized by immersion in a creek, though it was late winter.
Breaking of Bread began in the Johnson home at the corner of 16th Concession and Lake Road that year, 1873. The Lake Shore Gospel Hall was built in about 1887 a mile up the road from the Johnson’s. Fourteen believers from the Ravenwood area, saved under the ministry of the McDonalds, who were barn framers, were added to the 14 already in fellowship at that time.
In 1980 a new hall, still used, was built on the site of the old Congregational church from which Mr. Munro had been asked to leave. Tent meetings for preaching the Gospel have been held in the locality fairly regularly until recently.
Leaders over the years include William Beatty, Henry Hodgson, Herbert Rawlings, Robert Kersey, Kenneth Porter, and Victor Fuller. Lake Shore Gospel Hall has up to 75 in attendance now.
Grace Bible Chapel in Parkhill started in the mid-1960s when a group of people began a Sunday School program in a Parkhill home. Mr. and Mrs. Bruce Fuller and Mr. and Mrs. Emerson Martin were the prime movers in establishing an assembly from this work. In 1968, the Christians purchased land in the area and built their present chapel. Elders have been Carl Turnbull, Bruce Fuller, Phil Bruce, Clarence Martin, and Amos Martin. Several people from Grace Bible Chapel have been commended to the Lord’s work in Canada. About 175 adults and youngsters attend the assembly.
George Wilson was saved as a young man in the work at Forest. He moved to Sarnia and helped establish the Sarnia Assembly in 1887, which met first in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Wilson at 229 South Vidal Street. Later that same year, joined by John Smith who had recently made his first voyage to Canada, Mr. Munro held meetings at Stratford and Shakespeare amid much persecution, but God saved souls and two more new assemblies were planted.
The town of Arkona is midway between Sarnia and London. There, the Arkona Bible Chapel started in 1974 and was known initially as Elim Gospel Hall. David Daley was a full-time worker in the assembly from 1975 through 1982. In 1991, some of the Christians at Arkona Bible Chapel formed the Maranatha Bible Fellowship and met in rented space. In late 1996, the leadership of the two assemblies began discussing a merger. After much prayer, this came about in 1997. The combined assembly occupied the former Arkona Bible Chapel, which was renamed Elim Bible Chapel. The new assembly has about 200 adults and children in attendance, with new converts and many baptisms.
The Windsor Gospel Hall celebrated its 75th anniversary in 1991. One of the brethren who figured prominently in the formation of the assembly was William Lever. Born in Scotland, he moved to Canada in 1911 and came to Windsor in 1912. Knowing of no assembly in Windsor, he fellowshipped at Central Gospel Hall in Detroit. In 1916, he and a small company of Christians, most of whom were connected with that assembly, rented a hall in the Odd Fellow’s Temple on Wyandotte Street East, just off Ouellette Avenue, to begin the work at Windsor Gospel Hall. The Christians at Central Gospel Hall continued their support of the Windsor assembly in the ensuing years.
Leaders from that time include J. Stevens, J.W. Russell, D. Ferguson, R.C.E. Young, Harry Gregg, John Craig, William Hynes, and Sebastian Polido, and more recently Raymond Fairley, Lawrence McLean, David Pratt, and Robert Wylie. The believers built the present Hall in 1927 at 644 Partington Avenue and called it Partington Road Gospel Hall. It continues as a testimony, now called Gospel Hall, at 644 Partington Avenue. The assembly has commended a worker to ministry in Upper Michigan.
In 1913, four young men who attended a Methodist church in Windsor: Bert Hall, Joe Hallett, Herbert Farnal, and Erwin Dresch (who later became a missionary to Mexicans living in Texas), desired to Remember the Lord in a weekly service. They rented an apartment on Sandwich Street (now Riverside Drive) in Windsor for Bible studies and prayer. Others joined them and many came to new life in Christ. Over the years they met in believers’ homes and a rented store on Wyandotte Street. A commitment to the assembly character of the church precipitated the erection of a building on Pierre Avenue, which became known as Grace & Truth Gospel Hall.
As the Grace & Truth assembly continued to grow, some of the Christians began a Sunday school work in the new South Walkerville subdivision. In 1926, outreach Gospel meetings and a Sunday school commenced in a little building built for that purpose on the corner of Turner and Lens in Windsor. The work grew, and in 1930 an assembly was formed at Turner Road Gospel Hall, at which 31 brothers and sisters from Grace & Truth Gospel Hall formed the nucleus.
Mr. and Mrs. Foggin left to serve the Lord in China after the first Lord’s Day in Turner Road Gospel Hall. They were the first of many from Turner Road to serve as overseas missionaries, to China, Taiwan, Zaire, Zambia, Ecuador, Papua New Guinea, Liberia, and to ministries in Canada and the U.S.
The work prospered and soon larger quarters were needed. Land was purchased at the corner of Turner and Tecumseh Roads, which is still the location of the assembly. The new chapel was occupied in 1951. The assembly took the name Turner Road Gospel Chapel about then, and the Sunday Schools and adult Bible class were moved to Sunday mornings, from their previous Sunday afternoon times. Open-air meetings on Saturday nights and Sunday evenings were common. Boy’s Clubs and Girls Clubs were a feature of the assembly. Many of the younger people traveled to Lapeer, Michigan to preach and sing on the radio broadcast that Mr. Lomax had each Friday night. Sunday School outreaches away from the assembly facilities were conducted by Jim Hendry, Ralph Greenhow, and Vic Kendall.
The Gospel Chapel facilities were expanded in 1976, and the name was shortened to Turner Road Chapel. Elders at Turner Road have included Jack Briggs, Ian Cameron, Jan Cizmanski, Dave Hernandez, Ron Hesman, Alex Hill, Milko Lamos, Cyril Lapsley, Don McFarlane, Ken Palmer, Jim Pitman, and Jerry Potma.
In 1952, opportunity to help in evangelical work in the town of Harrow, south of Windsor, was given to the Turner Road Gospel Hall, and eventually Turner Road was asked to take over and establish the work on New Testament lines. Thus, the Harrow Assembly began. Clifford Beggs, on furlough from Angola, helped establish that work. Many Portuguese families who worked on the farms in the Harrow area came to know Christ.
Turner Road Gospel Chapel grew and many younger families living in the South Windsor area became exercised about planting an assembly there. In October 1964, about 10 families began a Sunday School in Glenwood Public School for 36 children, with 16 in an adult class. By the end of 1966 the group had grown to 62 children and 28 adults. Bible studies and prayer meetings were also being held in various homes. The neighborhood was canvassed in early 1967.
In November 1967 the group commenced Breaking Bread together, and in September 1968 ground was broken one block from the school for a new chapel. The Oakwood Bible Chapel was completed in May 1969 with much of the labor being done by those in fellowship. Henry Petersen of California came for six weeks to help with visitation and to launch the new chapel.
Since then, two additions have been completed. About 200 are in fellowship, with about 125 in a Junior Sunday School and 40 in the Young People’s group.
Berean Bible Chapel in Windsor began in 1995 in the home of Albert and Shirley Birch, the result of a desire of the Birches, Victor and Marion Salmons, Ray and Connie Vrskovy, Floyd and Waneda Wright, and Miss Marion McEwen to begin a new gathering. They had been in fellowship at Oakwood Bible Chapel. The leaders have been Albert Birch, Victor Salmons, and Floyd Wright. In 1997, the new assembly, consisting of about 60 adults and youngsters, moved into leased space in an office mall at 2280 Foster Avenue.
In the city of London, the Emery & Edward St. Gospel Hall was built in about 1920. The property had been purchased by a Mrs. Jeffery, who also had the hall built, for an assembly associated with the ‘Grant’ party. At some point, the assembly became ‘open.’ In 1952, the name of the hall was changed to Emery Street Gospel Hall and in 1972 to Edward Street Chapel. The assembly has always met at this location.
Over the years, leadership has been shared by Arthur Drennan, James Ross, Elmer Hair, Jack McLaud, Charles E. Lacey, Robert DePhillippeaux, Arthur MacKnight, Gorden Black, and Leslie Doey. About 50 adults and children are in the assembly today. Workers have been commended by the assembly to Angola, to the home field, and to Graphite Bible Camp.
Bethel Chapel in London began in 1934, two of its founders being Rowland Hill, Sr. and A.J. Phillips. These two men were in fellowship at that time at Hamilton Road Chapel in London and were burdened to begin a testimony in the south part of the city. (The Hamilton Road Chapel closed in the late 1980s and has been superseded by Southdale Bible Chapel.)
Others in leadership in the assembly, which has always been at the same location at 439 Moore Street, have been William Barrington, Rowland Hill Jr., Earnest Bodaly, Howard Elliott, Harry Brown, Gorden McKenzie, Edward Cossey, H.G. Phillips, and Douglas Phillips.
A ladies’ coffee hour with ministry is held monthly and is attended by 25 to 30 women, most of whom are not in the assembly. Workers have been commended to local work and to West Africa. Another ladies’ ministry consists of filling large shipping crates with clothes and utensils and sending them to needy peoples. About 40 adults and young people attend the assembly.
Joe and Anna Ebert began the Kintore Bible Chapel in Thamesford, east of London, in their home in 1993. Though the assembly did not hive off from another, the Eberts had brethren backgrounds. Larry Ball has shared leadership of Kintore Bible Chapel with the Eberts. The assembly has about 40 people attending and continues to meet in the Ebert home.
Vienna, Straffordville, and Tillsonburg lie southeast of London, just north of Lake Erie. To that area came a 20-year-old Thomas Donald William "T.D.W." Muir from Hamilton in 1875 and began preaching. Soon he was joined by John Smith, just arrived from Scotland. They preached together in schoolhouses, homes, halls, and church buildings. Many were saved, and several assemblies were quickly established, including the South Middleton Assembly, which continued until about 1945. The assembly established near Straffordville continues today as the Straffordville Gospel Hall.
The Tillsonburg assembly was established in 1888 on Harvey Street through the efforts of Mr. Muir and others from the South Middleton and Straffordville assemblies. The assembly met in a rented room in ‘Graves Block’ for about 25 years. In 1914, the Tillsonburg Gospel Hall was built and there the assembly worshipped until the town fathers gave notice in 1976 that the property was to be expropriated and a new shopping mall developed there. In 1979, the Hall was moved to its current location at the corner of Bridge and Queen Streets and renovated. At that time the name was changed to Tillsonburg Bible Chapel, ON and the assembly developed a strong youth program.
Leaders in the assembly over the years include Thomas Touzeau, J.C. McCormack, William Beckett, Alan Morrison, Ivor Conod, Burnice McAllister, Len Fex, Jim Rowbottom, and Gordon McEown.
Two small assemblies that had existed since the late 1800s, one in or near Simcoe and the other near Port Dover, ten miles southeast of Simcoe on the north shore of Lake Erie, merged in 1920.
The merged group met in a rural location until 1945, when the assembly moved into Simcoe. In 1947 the Christians built the Nelson Street Chapel, a small structure. The Lord blessed with conversions. Paul and Dorothy Fletcher began helping in the work in 1957, commuting from Brantford. In 1959 they moved to Simcoe, where Mr. Fletcher took a business position. In 1972, he resigned his position in order to give all his time to evangelism and pastoral ministry on behalf of the assembly.
A larger chapel was erected in 1966 on Cedar Street and called the Simcoe Gospel Chapel. Fletcher Lampkin and Lawrence Misner were among those involved at the beginning of the Simcoe Gospel Chapel. On opening day, 93 were present at the Family Bible Hour. By 1974, Family Bible Hour attendance was running at 250, and the main auditorium was filled for both Breaking of Bread meetings and Sunday evening services. Knowing they must expand or start a branch work, the congregation decided to construct a larger building.
Two acres were purchased on the northeast edge of the city. In the spring of 1975, a Conference was held to officially open the new chapel. Four hundred people filled the auditorium for Saturday and Sunday services.
Others in leadership over the years have been Mark Fletcher, Mark Williams, John Furber, and Ken Shewell. The assembly has commended several to the Lord’s work. About 200 adults are in fellowship in addition to about 100 teens and children in the Sunday Schools.
In the summer and early fall of 1989, six families met in a home in Waterford, a small town north of Simcoe, for prayer and Bible study on a weekly basis. They discussed their concerns for a back-to-basics Scriptural teaching of the Word with faithful men of God in other areas. After much prayer, they Broke Bread in the Marsden home in Waterford in mid-November, and on the following Sunday met in the Ferrier farmhouse near Simcoe, with 22 believers in attendance.
The believers decided to rent a room in the Minden Manor Motel in Simcoe for Sunday meetings and for Wednesday prayer and Bible study meetings. This continued for two and a half years.
The Lord then provided them with a building of their own, which they call Faith Bible Chapel and in which they continue to meet. They now have between 40 and 55 at the weekly Breaking of Bread meetings, and 75 to 80 at the Family Bible Hour and Sunday School.
Shortly after Faith Bible Chapel began, Don and Mae Moffatt, who had served the Lord in Newfoundland, came into fellowship with the believers. Don Moffatt was greatly used in sharing in the ministry of the Word until his home call in 1994.
The first elders at Faith were Ron Oakes, Kevin Marsden, Mike Kekes, and Ivan Ferrier. Lloyd Thompson has since joined in leadership. Among the men from other assemblies who have ministered the Word at Faith Bible Chapel are John Maring, Colin Anderson, Patrick Long, Brian Gunning, David Robins, and Willie Burnett.
Burgessville is midway between London and Hamilton. In October 1989, in nearby Norwich, an assembly was formed and met at the Norwich Gospel Trailer. Steve Kember, commended from the Sarnia Gospel Hall, began the work with the help of a few others. In 1994, the assembly purchased and renovated a building in Burgessville and moved there to become the Burgessville Gospel Hall. The assembly has about 70 adults and youngsters in attendance. Steve Kember, Bill Burton, and Ernie Dyck have been the elders.
In about 1800, the first Mennonites came to Waterloo County, Ontario, from Pennsylvania. By 1820, such names as Martin, Bowman, Hoffman, Gingrich, and Weber were known in the area that is now Woolwich Township. According to John Martin, many of the Mennonite preachers had a meager knowledge of the Bible and the doctrine of salvation was not taught.
In 1922, Alex Stewart of Guelph came with Frank Guthrie to this Mennonite area and held meetings in Elmira, resulting in the salvation of a number of people, including Mr. and Mrs. Emmanuel Martin. A small assembly was brought into being at Elmira, the Christians meeting above Playford’s Garage. That same year, Mr. Stewart held meetings in Linwood; some were saved, including Simeon Martin, Mr. and Mrs. Emmanuel Gerth, Mrs. King, and Mrs. Pem Hosea, and an assembly was planted there, meeting in Mrs. King’s carpenter shop. The Elmira Assembly lasted until 1928, and the Linwood Assembly lasted a few years longer, until the Gerths and Hoseas moved to Waterloo.
But God was working in the area. In 1928, Israel Martin was saved, and in 1931, John M. Martin and others were saved in evangelistic meetings conducted by a Pentecostal preacher. Soon John’s brother Noah was saved, and Henry Bauman and his sisters, and the Brubacher sisters. John Martin married Melissa Brubacher in 1932, but they stayed with the Mennonite churches for a while.
In 1931, Israel Martin started a Sunday School in his brother Nathan’s house in Hawkesville. Mr. William Goetz had moved to Hawkesville about this time and started Bible studies in various homes. These were later moved to Nathan Martin’s house. Sunday evening services were then started there, and Nathan Martin’s house became known as the Hawkesville Gospel Mission. Preachers from various denominations were invited to come and preach.
By 1934, it was apparent that the group of believers were going to leave the Old Order Mennonite church. In the spring of 1934, some of the believers had begun Remembering the Lord at the farm home of John and Melissa Martin. To the Hawkesville Gospel Mission were coming the Martin Baumans, John Martins, and Noah Martins from the Wallenstein area; the Israel Hoffmans, Amos Hoffmans, Sydney and David Hoffman, and the Simeon Martins from the Heidelberg area; the Goetz and Weber families lived in Hawkesville. This was the nucleus of the new group about to form.
In September 1934, the first public meeting to observe the Lord’s Supper was held at the Hawkesville Gospel Mission. Frank Guthrie and George McKenzie were with them, and fifteen were baptized by immersion that day, with about 1000 curious townspeople in attendance.
The group had to make a fundamental choice at this point. Two of the most respected preachers who had come to the Hawkesville Gospel Mission were Henry Jansen, a Russian Mennonite from Kitchener, and Frank Guthrie from the brethren assembly in Guelph. Should they become part of the Russian Mennonite organization, or should they follow the New Testament church pattern, as espoused by Frank Guthrie?
Though Israel Martin initially leaned toward affiliating with the Russian Mennonites, eventually the whole group decided upon the New Testament pattern, with the Word of God as their sole authority. But Mennonite customs were slow to disappear, the characteristic dress being one of these. The 1934 opening of the Guelph Bible Conference Grounds, 25 miles from Hawkesville, at which the main speaker was Harry Ironside, is remembered as having a major influence upon the Hawkesville Christians.
The number of those affiliating with the new assembly at the Hawkesville Gospel Mission grew, and Nathan Martin’s house was inadequate. Property was secured in the center of Hawkesville at the corner of Geddes Street and Hawk Street. The Hawkesville Gospel Hall had its opening in December 1939 with a series of meetings, at which a number were saved. John Martin, who with Sydney Hoffman had been commended to full-time work elsewhere, returned and was one of the speakers.
John Martin developed a radio ministry originating from Kitchener and was assisted by several from the Hawkesville Gospel Hall. When the Emmaus Bible School opened in Toronto in 1945, five of the young men from Hawkesville attended and were instrumental in having the Emmaus Young People’s Rally held at Hawkesville.
By 1951, the Gospel Hall was too small for the increasing numbers, and an addition was built, increasing the seating capacity to 200. In 1960, the name was changed to Hawkesville Bible Chapel, concurrently with the introduction of a Family Bible Hour on Sunday mornings. Elders were first publicly recognized in 1963. Allan and Joyce Weber, then in the Lord’s work on Prince Edward Island, were invited to return for visitation work in the area. The elders also visited weekly in pairs in the community.
Once again, a larger building was needed, land was donated near Wallenstein, and in November 1968, the Wallenstein Bible Chapel was ready for occupancy, with a seating capacity of over 500. The elders at the time of this move were Ezra Frey, Amos Hoffman, David Hoffman, Israel Hoffman, John Martin, Noah Martin, and Onias Weber. Urias Brubacher and David M. Martin soon joined them. Growth in numbers has continued, and the assembly is involved in many outreach ministries. Conestoga Bible Camp, which began as a ministry of Wallenstein Bible Chapel, had its first session in 1972. Among the many who have gone out into full-time service for the Lord are Mr. and Mrs. John Martin, Mr. and Mrs. Sydney Hoffman, and Vera Bauman to ministry in Canada; and Mr. and Mrs. Abner Bauman, Esther Frey, and Mr. and Mrs. Allan Hoffman to overseas ministry. In 1989, the assembly hived-off the Alma Bible Church. Recent elders include Melvin Frey, Glenn Gingrich, Wayne Hockley, Ken Hoffman, Aaron Martin, Murray Martin, Ollie Shantz, and Henry Tewinkel. Today about 450 people attend Wallenstein Bible Chapel.
Woodside Bible Fellowship at 200 Barnswallow Drive in Elmira, north of Waterloo, began in 1975. Neil Martin, Urias Brubacher, Allan Hoffman, and David M. Martin were those involved in its establishment. The assembly was a hive-off of Wallenstein Bible Chapel and was called the Elmira Christian Fellowship for the first couple of years while it met at the Riverside Public School. Others active in leadership have been David McClurkin, Harold Paisley, Paul Fletcher, and Harvey Gingrich. About 300 adults were in attendance in 1996, plus a Sunday School of over 150. The assembly has commended workers to Zambia, Kenya, Senegal, Papua New Guinea, Venezuela, and to International Teams and His Mansion Ministries in Ontario.
A few miles east of Elmira is the city of Guelph. In the early 1900s, an assembly was meeting in a house on Norwich Street in Guelph, apparently the first in that city. C. Ernest Tatham’s father was the leading brother in this meeting, which later moved to a hall over the old Royal Bank building on Wyndham Street. At that time, the meeting consisted mostly of the extended Tatham family and a few others.
In 1916, the Eramosa Road Gospel Hall was built, after some of the McAllister family moved to Guelph from the Clifford area. A ‘Grant exclusive’ meeting, Eramosa was apparently the subsequent meeting place of the earlier house meeting, for C. Ernest Tatham fellowshipped there as a young man. Many of the well-known preachers of the day came there, including John Bloore, Samuel Ridout, H.A. Ironside, and Alex Stuart. The leading brethren at Eramosa Road Gospel Hall were John McAllister, John Irvine, Frank Guthrie, and later Stuart Burnham. These were the years of amalgamation of the Grants with the ‘open’ assemblies, and it is fair to assume that Eramosa Road Gospel Hall became ‘open.’
In 1958, L.J. Harris, R.W. Farnworth, and others desired to see the work grow, and the present facility at 491 Waterloo Avenue was built in 1960 and the name changed to Guelph Bible Chapel. Elders were recognized beginning in 1973. In 1974, Murray McLeod, a retired missionary from India, was invited to be a part-time pastor, and continued until 1981, at which time David Booker became a full-time pastor, followed by Kirk Lithander and Jack Correll as full-time workers. Other elders, besides those named above, include Les Harris, R.K. Farnworth, Bill Bleach, Gordon Guthrie, Henry Thiessen, Lew Aubrey, Harry Hitchon, Norm Boyd, Jerry Earls, Jim Ritchie, Dave McCready, and Mr. Brewster.
Guelph Bible Chapel has commended several to the Lord’s work, and now has about 200 in Sunday attendance. Two assemblies have derived from it.
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Willowdale Christian Fellowship in Guelph began in 1979, with its first meetings at the Willow Road School. Eight families from Guelph Bible Chapel were involved in the start-up. The assembly later moved to Arkell Road to become the Arkell Road Bible Chapel. Leadership over the years includes Evered Penn, Campbell Round, James Conover, and Peter Bolton. About 110 adults and youngsters attend the assembly.
Lakeside Bible Church began in 1989, hiving-off from Guelph Bible Chapel. The principals in the start-up were Gordon and Frank Guthrie, Phil Fletcher, David Booker, Norm Roberts, and David Neff, all of whom were elders at Guelph Bible Chapel. The assembly met six weeks in a school before moving into its own building in Guelph. Those in active leadership since the formation are the Guthries, David Booker, Jim Lowe, and Ken Rowan. Darryl Milne is the current youth worker, commended to that position. About 750 adults and youngsters attend Lakeside Bible Church.
Bethel Chapel in Waterloo has its roots in several families that moved to Waterloo from Elmira and Linwood. They met in the home of William Klinck for several years.
In about 1945, William Murray and John Martin had tent meetings in Waterloo; after that they rented a vacant store and carried on the assembly meetings there. In 1948, a small Bethel Chapel was built at 16 Laurel Street and the assembly started to grow. The building has since been enlarged. The assembly has about 75 in fellowship now.
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Lakeshore Bible Chapel in Waterloo, at 470 Glenelm Crescent, was established in 1970 by ten couples: Allan and Joan Poyntz, Henry Ralston, Len and Joan Habermehl, Henry and Iva Ralston, David and MaryLynn Knight, Larry and Betty Tierney, Murray and Wilma Toman, Rolf and Esme Stockheisen, Dave and Sheila Brown, Ross and Carol Steinman, and Chris and Marnie Watts. The assembly was a hive-off from Bethel Chapel and had its first meetings at the Cedarbrea Public School. Lakeshore Bible Chapel moved to its present location in 1978 and has helped establish Forestview Bible Church, Cambridge Community Church in Cambridge, and New Hope Community Church in Waterloo. The assembly has about 185 adults in fellowship, with about 100 in the Sunday School. Through the years, several workers have been commended by Lakeshore Bible Chapel to the Lord’s service.
During the fall of 1990, nine families who lived in Cambridge but drove to other cities for their church meetings came together to pray about and discuss forming a new church in Cambridge. Gordon Martin from Lakeshore Bible Chapel gave teaching on the New Testament church to the group, some of whom had brethren backgrounds. These families began meeting on Sundays in September 1991 in the Hespeler Missionary Church building. When the building was sold a year later, the congregation moved to the Clemens Mill area of Cambridge, first into St. Margaret’s School and then in 1993 to Clemens Mill Public School, where they took the name Cambridge Community Church. Rob Heintz joined the fellowship in 1992 and serves as a full-time pastor with several elders. About 200 people are in the assembly.
New Hope Community Church in Waterloo started in January 1996, meeting then, as today, in the Westvale Public School for Sunday mornings, and using homes for small groups. The assembly derived from Lakeshore Bible Chapel, that church’s third purposely planted congregation, to reach into the west side of Waterloo where there was no English-speaking evangelical church. Among those at Lakeshore who worked to establish the new assembly were Gordon Martin and Mark Rogers. The leadership team at New Hope has included Jeremy Horne, Randy More, Allan Poyntz, Mark Rogers, Bill Stubbs, Rob Vanderspek, and Dan Zimmermann. From an initial 40 people, about 150 attend the assembly now. Bill Stubbs is a full-time worker at New Hope Community Church.
Perhaps as early as 1870, Douglas Russell came from Scotland to a district near Galt, where he had relatives in the Clyde and Valens area. These are small towns near Cambridge, between Hamilton and Kitchener. Mr. Russell’s preaching was powerful, and many were saved, including the grandparents of Lorne McBain. Upon returning to Scotland, he became involved with Donald Ross and his associates, and entered into fellowship in an assembly there. When he returned to Canada, he preached in the area around Clyde. Donald Munro and John Smith came to assist in the work, and the Clyde Assembly was established. The first meeting of the believers was in a blacksmith’s shop. This assembly continues today. Within a short time, the Valens Assembly was formed at nearby Valens, and a short time later the Galt Assembly came into being. Thomas Donald William "T.D.W." Muir had been saved at meetings conducted by Donald Munro and John Smith in 1874 in Hamilton. Within a few months, he was one among many preachers who preached in the area.
In the early 1920s, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Lapsley lived in the Valens area and fellowshipped in the Clyde Assembly. The Lapsleys were exercised to see an assembly in their area, since the original Valens Assembly had discontinued, and with the help of George Dixon and Mr. and Mrs. John Robson, began an assembly in 1923, meeting first in the Robson home. William Bailley held many Gospel meetings in the area, resulting in new converts. Fred Watson also helped in establishing the new assembly. The Christians later built the Valens Gospel Hall on property adjacent to the Robson home. Others in leadership have been Earl Watson, John Holtzhauer, Ted Lapsley; Robert Reeve, and Martin Grinwis. The assembly at Valens Gospel Hall has commended workers to Zambia, and presently has about 30 in attendance.
In the spring of 1980, five couples living in the Tavistock area, about 20 miles southwest of Waterloo/Kitchener, expressed an interest in starting an assembly there. John Martin had been holding Bible studies for several winters in the Tavistock/Stratford area. The group persuaded John and his wife to move there from their home in Hawkesville. That summer the group purchased and renovated the old Knox Hall at the corner of William and Oxford Streets in Tavistock and renamed it Tavistock Bible Chapel. The principals involved in the start-up were John M. Martin, Bill Jeffery, Kenneth Wagler, and John Wilkerson. Others in leadership have been Jim Cormach and Mike Bastiaanson. About 140 adults and youngsters attend Tavistock Bible Chapel today.
Mitchell is a small town near Stratford, north of London. An assembly began there in the mid-1930s, meeting in rented quarters that they called Mitchell Gospel Hall.
In 1948, because most of the Christians in the Mitchell assembly were driving in from the Clinton area, 20 miles northwest of Mitchell, the assembly relocated to Clinton. The Christians met in the home of Samuel McDonald at the beginning. Numbers were small, but in 1953, after much prayer and laying hold of God in faith, the brethren undertook the building of a new Hall on Joseph Street, calling it Joseph Street Gospel Hall. The labor in building the hall was supplied almost completely by brethren from a number of assemblies in that part of Ontario. The Hall opened in late 1953.
Those starting the Clinton assembly were principally Samuel McDonald and William J. Davidson. Leadership has been supplied by these and Douglas McDonald, Willis Switzer, David Kember, Larry Schade, and Keith Bachert. Joseph Street Gospel Hall has commended full-time workers to the mission field and has about 90 in attendance today.
The assembly testimony in Mitchell resumed in 1984 with the start-up of Mitchell Bible Chapel. It was not derived from another assembly, and was initiated by John and Graham Martin, Mark Otten, Frank Ennis, and Steve Vandenbrink, and these have been its elders. About 30 adults and youngsters attend Mitchell Bible Chapel.
One of the newer assemblies in Ontario is Chesley Bible Chapel, originally meeting in the small town of Chesley, north of Clinton. The assembly was established in 1994 by Steve Cudney and John M. Martin, who were joined in leadership by Stan West. First meeting in a Mennonite Brethren building, the assembly subsequently met in a rented building on Main Street in the business area of Chesley.
In the late 1990s, the assembly relocated to the larger town of Hanover, about 10 miles south of Chesley and meets at present in a building on 15th Avenue; it is now called Hanover Bible Chapel and consists of about 15 adults and as many teens and children. The believers hope to purchase this building.
Wingham is a small town southwest of Hanover. The present Wingham Bible Chapel has its roots in an old ‘exclusive’ meeting about 12 miles out in the country, which died for lack of gift and numbers.
In 1937, John Martin pitched a tent in Wingham and had some Gospel meetings. Through various efforts, several people were saved and a few from the former meeting started to meet in the home of Gordon and Margaret McInnes. In 1950, the Wingham Gospel Hall was built. The work carried on there for some time. In about 1972, Len and Madeline Fex moved to Wingham and through their ministry a number of people were saved. The assembly grew considerably and a new building, the Wingham Bible Chapel, ON was put up on Boland Street in 1975.
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Eight families, including those of Claude Martin, Owen Weber, John Langendoen, and Bill Klumpenharve began an assembly testimony in 1985 in the village of Gorrie, south of Hanover. Gorrie Bible Fellowship was formed with the blessings of the assembly at Wingham Bible Chapel. Meeting first in the town hall, they built and moved into their own building, seating 200, in 1991. Leadership has been shared by the four men mentioned and Bob Bramhall, who joined the fellowship in 1986. Mr. Bramhall is now working full-time in the assembly. Gorrie Bible Fellowship has commended workers to Nepal, Indonesia, and elsewhere. About 175 regularly attend the services at Gorrie Bible Fellowship.
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For six weeks in 1874, John Smith and Donald Munro had preached the Gospel in Hamilton, at the western tip of Lake Ontario, seeing little interest. Then Thomas Donald William "T.D.W." Muir, K.J. Muir, and William J. Faulkner were saved under their preaching. The Gospel meetings continued, and many more were saved and baptized. These Christians soon began meeting to Remember the Lord, the beginning of the McNab Street Gospel Hall in Hamilton. This is the oldest continuously meeting assembly in the city of Hamilton. It has since relocated and is called the West Fifth Bible Chapel.
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The assembly now meeting at Stone Ridge Bible Chapel in Hamilton has its roots in a children’s work carried out by believers from MacNab Street Gospel Hall. The children’s work was begun in 1952 in a basement structure and first consisted of hobby classes but expanded to include a Sunday School and a Gospel meeting. Funds for a down payment on the lot and building in which these activities were held were donated by some elders from MacNab and the structure was named Queensdale Gospel Hall. The first official meeting of the new assembly was in 1955. An upper level was added in 1958, and the name was changed to Queensdale Bible Chapel at that time.
In early 1994, the building was heavily damaged by fire set by arsonists. The structure was demolished, and the lot sold. After that, the assembly met at a series of rented locations. Construction of a new building was begun in 1998, and the name Stone Ridge Bible Chapel was chosen to reflect the new location. Present attendance is about 35, a third of what it was before the fire. The assembly has commended servants to the Lord’s work in Ontario, Quebec, and elsewhere.
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Shoreacres Bible Chapel in Burlington, north of Hamilton, began in 1959 as the Burlington Gospel Hall. The principal instigators were James and Annabelle Weaver. James had come out of the Needed Truth faction, and Annabelle from an assembly in Toronto. The Beukers joined them out of the Christian Reformed Church. The Greens came from the former Queensdale Gospel Chapel, which was destroyed in a fire. The remaining nucleus of those starting the new assembly came from Bethany Gospel Hall in Hamilton.
The meeting began as bi-weekly hymn sings in the Weaver home, with about 20 in attendance. The first Remembrance Meeting took place in February 1959 in the Weaver home. By the fall, the group had moved to Old White Chapel, now the Red Cross quarters, and early the next year was meeting at Trefoil Lodge, with about 50 adults and children in attendance. Property was purchased on Shoreacres Road and Shoreacres Bible Chapel was completed in 1969. The building was expanded a decade later.
Recognized elders over the years include William Allen, Henry Bingham, James Currie, William Hislop, James McNeice, George Patterson, and James Weaver, and others for shorter periods. Workers have been commended by the assembly to the Philippines, Botswana, and to itinerant ministry. Shoreacres Bible Chapel now has about 200 in attendance.
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In 1993, Forestview Bible Chapel in Burlington began in the north part of Burlington, a hive-off of Shoreacres. The group meets in a school with about 70 attendees.
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Assembly testimony began in 1871 in the Niagara Peninsula, the same year as in areas to the west. The Lord blessed His people as they met in homes, stores, above a drive-shed, and even in a blacksmith’s shop. From an insignificant beginning, five assemblies are now in the Niagara Peninsula area. They meet in the Brockview Bible Chapel, Thorold South Gospel Chapel, Ridgeville Bible Chapel, Portal Village Bible Chapel, and Scottlea Gospel Chapel.
The assembly testimony in St. Catharines began in 1871 when a few Christians met in a home to Remember the Lord. In 1914, the growing assembly met in its new building known as the Queenston Street Gospel Hall. Located in the business district of the city, this building served well until 1966 when the Scottlea Gospel Chapel was built in a residential neighborhood in the northern part of St. Catharines, to accommodate the assembly that remained there after some had left to form the Brockview assembly. The evangelist Ernest Sprunt was in fellowship at Queenston Street/Scotlea.
On Easter Sunday morning in April 1966, the Scottlea assembly met for the first time in its new Chapel to Remember the Lord and with the prayer that the Lord would bless its presence in that growing area of the city. There are now 175 in fellowship.
Since its inception, the Scottlea Gospel Chapel has had a strong and consistent emphasis on the preaching of the Gospel and ministry of the Word, teaching in Sunday Schools, AWANA, Daily Vacation Bible Schools, and youth and camp work. Some believers take the Gospel into the Homes of Senior Citizens, and others to go door to door in tract distribution and personal visitation. For forty-four years the assembly has supported the Family Bible Hour’s world-wide radio broadcast financially and with personnel. The assembly has shown an interest in World Missions through its Ladies Missionary Work Class, short term missions involvement, and in other ways. The annual Spring and Fall Conferences present six messages beginning Saturday evening and running through Tuesday evening.
A number of the young men teach within this and other area assemblies. Over the years two brethren have been commended to the work of the Lord. Joe Sherlock serves the Lord from Summerside, Prince Edward Island; Arnot McIntee, who served with the Family Bible Hour Radio Broadcast for 42 years, continues to serve in a variety of ways.
The elders of all area assemblies meet annually for a time of fellowship and the sharing of relevant information. These times of fellowship are broadened on five occasions each year when believers in the five assemblies meet in alternate Chapels for a time of prayer, teaching and fellowship. Also, there is an Annual Picnic each Labor Day, which is always well attended.
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In 1959, the Pelham Road Gospel Hall in St. Catharines came into being with 95 in fellowship initially. A group of believers had come from the Queenston Street Gospel Hall to form the new assembly, in harmonious relationship with the parent assembly. The meeting place for the assembly is now called Brockview Bible Chapel, still on Pelham Road. Boyd Nicholson made that assembly his home base.
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Thorold is on the southern edge of St. Catharines. It was to that city that Ross McIntee and John Funk, both in fellowship at the Queenston Street Gospel Hall, came in 1949 for open-air Gospel meetings. There they contacted Christians such as William Wilkie and his wife Lorene and her mother Mrs. Hughes, who had a small Sunday School there. These invited Messrs. McIntee and Funk to take over their work. They turned the work into a Thursday night children’s meeting. From that beginning, a Sunday School and Sunday night Gospel meeting developed, with many others helping; the Lord saved many during this time.
A building was constructed and in 1966 an assembly was formed, called Thorold South Gospel Chapel. The original elders were Gordon Bye, Ross McIntee, William Wilkie, and Jack Trotter. Others in leadership over the years include Ben Andress, Malcom Lowrie, and Larry Jane. The assembly has kept the same name and meets at the same location at 319 Davis Street since its inception. Thorold South Gospel Chapel has commended workers to assembly planting and itinerant preaching in Canada and the U.S. About 75 persons are in the assembly.
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Ridgeville is about 14 miles southwest of St. Catharines. The brethren who were exercised about an assembly in this area were James and Donald Pirrie, Wesley Payson, Lester Shoalts, Bob Shedden, Al Walker, and Don Steele. Most of the original group who formed Ridgeville Bible Chapel had been in fellowship at Pelham Road Gospel Hall. Bill Hillis, Jim Lenaghan, Al Nickel, and Tim Hartwick have shared leadership at Ridgeville with those mentioned above. One brother has been commended to the radio work in Ecuador. About 55 adults and younger people are in fellowship, plus more than 30 in the Sunday School. The Canadian headquarters of the Awana Clubs were established in nearby Fonthill by a brother who was in Ridgeville Bible Chapel at the time.
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Welland is a few miles southwest of Niagara Falls and south of St. Catharines. It was to that city that C. Pinches came with his tent in 1918 to preach the Gospel. The Gospel meetings were carried on for about two months. Mr. Norman Klager and Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Gladwin were among those who attended the meetings. Mr. Pinches came again in 1920, and this time the meetings were held in the Gladwin home at 12 Locust Street. The Gladwins and Klagers soon began Remembering the Lord in His death, meeting first in the Klager home on Church Street, and later back at the Gladwin home. Just five persons comprised this first Welland Assembly. The Gladwins moved to the east side of Welland in 1944. The assembly continued to meet in the Gladwin home at 33 Scholfield Avenue for over 40 years.
In 1946, the Welland Assembly was back to five people in fellowship. Mr. Gladwin and his wife, Mrs. Ronald St. Clair, Mrs. E. Garner, and Miss Clara Doan. Within a few years, Mr. St. Clair, the two St. Clair daughters, and their husbands Lorne Yade and William Montean, were in fellowship. Baptisms were held at the Willmott Street Gospel Hall in Niagara Falls, ON.
The Niagara Falls assembly gave much help to the Welland Assembly in conducting open-air meetings. Mr. G.P. Taylor came from Deseronto for a 13-week series of meetings in 1954, at which 25 souls professed salvation. The basement of the Gladwin home was converted into a meeting place for the growing fellowship. In 1959, the William Monteans, Lorne Yades, and G. Hannigans started a Sunday School work. In 1960, a building fund was begun, and the assembly moved to rented space above the Martin Dairy on Burgar Street, and in 1964 to the Winstonville Hall for two years. In 1965, a lot was purchased, and the Welland Gospel Hall was built, which could seat 90 in addition to a basement for children’s meetings. Lorne Yade, William Montean, and Lanny Brown were the elders at that time. Others who joined the assembly in the 1960s were the James Smiths, Stan Booths, and Reg Lawsons, and Mr. Booth was added to the oversight. The hall has been expanded three times since its initial construction, and over 100 adults and youngsters are associated with the assembly.
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Port Colborne is on Lake Erie, just south of Welland. Portal Village Bible Chapel in Port Colborne started in 1986, growing out of Ridgeville Bible Chapel. With a special ministry to seniors, many of whom have been saved as a result, the assembly met for a time in a senior’s apartment block before they erected a chapel next to it in 1999, with the expectation of reaching out to a younger generation while maintaining the older contacts. Ken Brady, Gordon Bye, Peter Kay, William Duncan, Lewis Shedden, and Lester Shoalts were among those who initiated the assembly. Mahlon Martin, Lewis Shedden, and Lester Shoalts have been the elders. Portal Village Bible Chapel has commended workers to the Lord’s service in England and the United States and has about 40 adults and children in attendance.
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In the early 1920s, some of the pioneer evangelists arrived in the town of Barrie and held Gospel meetings. As a result, several families were saved and formed an assembly, meeting in the homes of the believers. After a few years, under the leadership of Walter Cameron, John W. Gossling, and Walter Havercroft, the Christians decided to have a permanent meeting facility. In 1928, Grace Gospel Hall at 37 Mary Street in downtown Barrie was opened with approximately 40 to 50 in fellowship.
In 1932, only four years after the beginning, a split occurred, with about 75% of the people leaving to form a new assembly (see below). From 1932 to 1945, Grace Gospel Hall continued with Mr. and Mrs. Walter Cameron, Ida Cameron, Mr. and Mrs. Donald Cameron, John W. Gossling, Walter Havercroft, Ben Knapp, Mary Brook, Mr. and Mrs. Garnet Soules in fellowship.
However, the Sunday School work was very large and well run by Ida Cameron and Mary Brook, who sent taxi cabs around the town to bring in the children at their own expense. Donald Cameron and his wife brought two and three carloads of children in from the country. There were always 60 to 75 children in attendance. The Gospel meetings on Sunday evenings were sparsely attended.
After 1945, the assembly grew, reaching 24 in fellowship in 1958. The downtown location was no longer suitable, so the assembly purchased property in 1959 at Peel and Gunn Streets in the north end of the city and built the Northside Gospel Chapel. A one-day Conference in 1960 brought in 100 people to Remember the Lord. In 1981, a new auditorium was added. The new addition accommodates the 165 adults and children who attend the assembly now.
Leadership over the years has been born by Donald Cameron, George Bishop, Archie Gavin, Jack Greaves, Gord Benner, and James Cummingham. A number of full-time workers have been sent overseas by the assembly. An Awana program at Northside Gospel Chapel has about 100 children in it.
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The Christians who left Grace Gospel Hall in 1932 met at first in a home on Bradford Street, then moved into the second floor of a drug store on the corner of Owen Street and Dunlop Street East in Barrie, where they remained until 1938. Because this location had stairs too steep for the older folks, the group moved across the street for a time, then in 1939 purchased a livery stable on Parkside Drive and renovated it into a meeting hall, known as Parkside Gospel Hall. The meeting grew rapidly for a time but has declined over the years to about six in fellowship today.
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In 1885, Thomas and Jane French, immigrants from England, donated a parcel of land from their farm near Waverley, north of Barrie, for the erection of the Waverley Gospel Hall. The evangelist Alexander Marshall is credited with initiating the assembly, and for a time the people attending the Hall were called Marshallites by the local folks. An assembly was started in nearby Vasey at about the same time.
Others in the Waverley assembly in the early days were the John McCaw, Robert Anderson, Sam French, Joseph Mertz, Ed Grexton, William Herbert, Minnie Campbell, Robert Anderson, John Isaac, John Farquharson, Sarah Truax, Brolley, Stamp, Minnie Blackmere, Emma Draper, Herb Sweezie, Adrian Isaac, Elmer Isaac, Sterling MacDonald, and Bowden Mertz families. The Mertz and Isaac families are remembered as being the leading families. George Benner, as well as Alexander Marshall, came often in the early days to preach at Waverley Gospel Hall.
After some years, Waverley Gospel Hall became small, with just Mr. Mertz and a few women at the Remembrance Meeting. The Christians from the Vasey Assembly joined with them at that time. When Mervyn Paul came to preach, he often stayed at the Blackmere’s near Wyevale and walked to Waverley. He is remembered for his ability to teach the children. Ernest Sprunt is another who preached at Waverley Gospel Hall and was loved by the young people. Many of the well-known traveling preachers came to Waverley. After the days of the traveling preachers had largely passed, Adrian and Elmer Isaac, Sterling MacDonald, Ferguson Blackmere, and Bowden Mertz were those who kept the assembly going when attendance was low.
In about 1950, a small room was added at the back of the old Hall for Sunday School classes. Not many years later, further growth resulted in a decision to build a new Hall, which was completed in 1964. Today about 40 adults and youngsters attend Waverley Gospel Hall.
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Strongville is a village near Stayner, near Barrie. The families from which the future Strongville Assembly developed moved into the area in about 1885, cutting down the trees of the virgin forest to make homes for themselves. These families typically had religious background, but many knew little of their need of a Savior. Mr. Duncan MacColeman, a Mennonite, was one of the early settlers. He preached among his neighbors, and many came to the Lord. Among them were the families of Andrew Johnston, Robert Armstrong, Thomas Armstrong, and Donald MacKinnon.
Mr. MacColeman preached sinless perfection, and this soon became a problem with the new believers. News of the new group of babes in Christ reached a small assembly of ‘exclusive’ brethren in Stayner, nine miles away, and a Mr. John Rodgers came to visit them, explaining the Scriptures. The believers from the Johnston, Arnstrong, and MacKinnon families subsequently sought fellowship with the Stayner assembly and were accepted by them. Traveling to Stayner was very difficult, and the assembly there gave consent for the six new believers to have their own meeting in the log home of the Johnstons.
Some little time later, W.P. Douglas and John Haliburton, both associated with the ‘open’ brethren, held a long series of Gospel meetings in a tent in Bethel, four miles from Strongville. One Saturday they walked over to Strongville, met the believers, and said they would like to Remember the Lord with them, also pointing out that the Stayner ‘exclusive’ brothers may not be comfortable with that. However, the Strongville Christians could see no reason not to accept them, and did, having many weeks of fellowship with them, and traveled to the tent meetings when they could. When it was clear that the Strongville group desired to maintain fellowship with Messrs. Douglas and Haliburton, whom they had grown to respect, the Stayner assembly refused further fellowship with the Strongville brothers.
It was at about this time, 1890, that the Strongville Assembly built the Strongville Gospel Hall, ON on a lot near the Johnston home. That location has served the assembly continuously since then, though a new hall was built on the same lot in 1990 and the old one moved off.
Others that came into the assembly in the early days were the Cole, Fleming, McLeish, Black, Smith, Lincoln, George Johnston, and Partridge families. Preachers who held meetings there include George Pinches Sr., George Garret, Albert Joyce, and Herbert Harris. The assembly held its first conference in 1906, and many since then. The Strongville Gospel Hall has had as many as 40 in fellowship, has commended workers to the Lord’s service, and now has about 40 adults and children in attendance.
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The original Orillia Assembly was established in 1881 after Gospel meetings by Alexander Marshall, recently arrived from Scotland. The Gospel meetings were held in the YMCA building, and then in an upstairs hall in the Kennedy building at the corner of Peter and Mississaga Streets. Many were saved and others were established. A baptism for eleven converts was held in April that year in Lake Couchiching near Cedar Island. and on April 17, the believers (as elsewhere, nicknamed” Marshallites” by the townspeople) gathered to Remember the Lord” the establishment of the first assembly in the area. The first meeting was in Quinn’s Hall. Some 60 gathered in fellowship at the assembly in May. Evangelists Alexander Marshall and Richard Irving, along with John Hutson and George Calverley were among those who initiated the assembly. During that year, over 200 believers were baptized in this area.
Later, the Orillia group met in Shaftesbury Hall on Mississaga Street. Robert Telfer had gospel meetings at that time in the nearby Dominion Hall. In September 1907, the West Street Gospel Hall that had been built at 56 West Street North was opened, and this served as a gathering place for 71 years.
Many traveling preachers visited the assembly, including C. Ernest Tatham, Charles Innis, Richard Irving, Sam Taylor, and Ross McConkey. The whole district around Orillia was stirred by the Gospel preached with power. The movement was given publicity by the press in censure and commendation, and this brought the people from far and near to hear what was regarded as ‘the new doctrine.’ Assemblies were formed in that period at Foxmead, Warminster, and Severn Bridge.
Shortly after this, a division took place among members of the Orillia Assembly, and part of the company returned to the Dominion Hall at 9 Andrew Street North. Later, that group acquired a small piece of property a half block south at 30 Andrew Street South and erected a new building, which they called Dominion Gospel Hall in memory of the previous place of gathering. The building opened in 1938 and is still in use today. Extensive renovations were made in 1986.
Elders at the Gospel Hall in the 1930s to the 1950s were Cecil Clark, Norman Clark, Charles Canning, William Polk, Charles Rankin, Joseph Stubbs, and a Mr. White. In the 1960s and 1970s, the leaders were George Clark, Reuben Pears, John Stubbs, and Raymond Stubbs. From the 1980s and on, the elders have been Andrew Adams, Earl Pears, and Douglas Stubbs.
Herb Harris, Russell Harris, and George Heidman were commended to the Lord’s work in the Canadian Maritimes (which see). The size of the assembly at the Gospel Hall has varied from about 50 to 70 in fellowship, with about 55 at this time.
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The Christians who stayed at the West Street Gospel Hall changed the name to West Street Gospel Chapel in April 1960 and remained there until September 1978. These believers then constructed a new building on Highway 12 West at Fairgrounds Road, calling it Hillside Bible Chapel, the current location of that assembly.
Roland Jutson, A. Gurton, G.V. Hartshorn, Hilliard Orton, Farnak Calverley, and Mr. Irwin have been active in leadership at Hillside. About 230 adults and youngsters attend the assembly, which has commended full-time workers to Zambia, Ontario, Newfoundland, and ministry in Maine and Florida.
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In 1966, a Sunday School work was begun in the South Ward of Orillia by the West Street assembly. By 1971, another congregation formed in that area and is today known as Simcoeside Bible Chapel.
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The Severn Bridge assembly began at about the same time as that in Orillia. The Severn Bridge Gospel Hall was located on Southwood Road, Severn Bridge, a few miles from Gravenhurst, and is still at that location. Alexander Marshall is credited with starting the assembly, but other details of the early days have not been uncovered. Since about 1950, leadership has included Bernard Mitchell, Larry Babineau, and Aubrey Dellandrea. In 1987, the Christians changed their name to Severn Bridge Christian Assembly. About 30 people are in the assembly today.
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Brampton is on the western side of the Toronto metropolitan area. It was there that the assembly known today as Bramalea Bible Chapel began in 1964 in Parkway Public School, with the attendance of perhaps six believers. It was named Brampton Bible Chapel at first and did not derive from any of the area assemblies. Two or three families who had been transferred to the area for business reasons were exercised to start the assembly in that location. Fred Clarke, from the Turner Road Chapel in Windsor, and Robert Saynor from the Sarnia area, were among the first to commence the work.
The work grew and in 1971 the assembly moved to a new building at 725 Balmoral Drive, Brampton, and took the name Bramalea Bible Chapel. Leadership has included Robert Dickson, William Dickson, James Dodds, Phil Lee, Fred Clarke, Bob Saynor, Richard Upfield, and Bruce Greenstreet. The work prospered and in 1979 an addition to the chapel was constructed. Work among children and young people was strong at that time.
In the 1990s, the work declined, and the chapel was sold. The assembly now meets at 10 Bramhurst Avenue, Unit 13, Brampton, and has about 70 in overall attendance. Leadership is now in the hands of Ian McNeil, Harry Schienke, Ken Veale, and James Dodds. Missionaries in the Philippines and Malaysia are being supported by the assembly.
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As early as 1866, an ‘exclusive’ assembly was meeting in Toronto on Alexander Street between Yonge and Church Streets. Another ‘exclusive’ assembly was meeting on Albert Street by 1873 and was called ‘The Tabernacle.’ Lord Cecil, prominent in the split of the Grant brethren from other ‘exclusive’ groups, met at Albert Street.
Elizabeth Street Hall was begun by Walter McKenzie in that period. Mr. McKenzie had been converted under the preaching of John Darby in Toronto, but soon disagreed with Mr. Darby on questions of local discipline.
In 1875, the evangelists Donald Munro and John Smith, arrived in Toronto. Not finding a suitable place for preaching, they rented a hall and preached there. They often stayed at the home of John Ironside, who met with the Christians at Elizabeth Street. In 1879, Donald Ross held meetings for at least three weeks at Elizabeth Street Hall, and it is thought that this was the beginning of the first identifiable ‘open brethren’ assembly in the city.
Later in 1879, Donald Ross and Thomas Donald William "T.D.W." Muir preached together in a tent on Yonge Street, and later Mr. Moyse of Australia joined them. The following year, Alexander Marshall conducted a Gospel campaign in the city; Harry Ironside was his co-worker for a time in these meetings.
During this period, Brock Street Temperance Hall, which stood on Brock Street at the corner of Little Richmond, emerged as the center championing ‘open’ principles. Brock Avenue Gospel Hall and Central Gospel Hall both have their roots in the Brock Street Temperance Hall.
When Little Richmond Street was renamed Farley Avenue, the Christians at Brock Street Temperance Hall began referring to their center as the Farley Avenue Hall.
In the course of time, the two groups Elizabeth Street and Farley Avenue followed divergent lines. Also, a son-in-law of Walter McKenzie built a new hall on Buchanan Street, which he called Beulah Hall. This grew to be a very large meeting. When the Christians built a new hall at 25 Charles Street, they retained their Beulah Hall designation.
During this period, there was a degree of interaction of these ‘open’ brethren with some denominational churches and with the’exclusive’ brethren. For example, J.W.C. Fegan, the well-known ‘open’ brother who started the Boy’s School in England, preached at Farley in 1884 and at the Queen Street Baptist Church in 1886. In 1892, Thomas Donald William "T.D.W." Muir preached at the ‘Assembly Rooms’ at Yonge and Maitland, where F.W. Grant attended before moving to Plainfield, NJ. Donald Munro and John Smith preached for a time at a Methodist church in Bolton.
In 1886, Donald Munro married and established his home in Toronto. He was an active evangelist in the city and was responsible for the first Conference at Farley Avenue Hall. The Conference became an annual event that served to launch the activities for the year. Many of the well-known pioneers were speakers at these Conferences.
Among those remembered at Farley Avenue Hall are the families of George Watson, Tom Holmes, George Ironside, John Berrie, W. Dewsbury, and J. Tough. Mr. and Mrs. Richard Skeeles joined with the Christians at Farley in 1872; their daughter, Jennie May, began keeping assembly records in 1890. Her record shows 128 on the roll for the Sunday morning meeting that year at Farley. William Beers came around 1890 and is remembered as a real shepherd to the flock at Farley.
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Two other small meetings had sprung up in Toronto by the late 1880s but were of short duration. One was at Walton Street at Yonge, and the other in the Red Lion Hall on Yonge, above Bloor Street.
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The Christians at Brock Street Temperance Hall/Farley Avenue Hall desired to start an assembly in the east end of the city, so Donald Munro started Bible Readings in a rented hall there. He was followed the next year by James Kay from England. As a result, a testimony began in 1891 at 639 Queen Street East. James Lynn, a letter carrier, is remembered as one of the real servants in this east-end assembly. Robert Telfer was married in 1892 and took up residence in the area and became associated with this assembly. The Christians called their group simply Christians in the East-End of the City. The growing work needed larger quarters, so the Christians moved to Queen and Bolton Avenue, and used the name East-end Gospel Hall. At the end of 1901, they moved to 194 Broadview Avenue where they still meet as the Broadview Avenue Gospel Hall. The Pape Avenue Gospel Hall in Toronto hived off from Broadview in 1921.
Early leaders at Broadview include Thomas Breckles, James Roy, William Dobbin, John Clarke, James Mahaffey, and Adam Ross. Elders since 1950 include John Virgin, Robert Boam, Joe Higgins, Don Jennings, Cyril Lallion, and Andrew Wilson. Broadview Avenue Gospel Hall commended Albert Joyce and Fred Nugent to ministry in Canada and the U.S. and others to Venezuela and ministry in the Toronto area.
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Farley Hall was in the central part of Toronto. At the same time that interest in the east end began among some of the believers at Farley, others became exercised about the west end. John Grimason conducted meetings in the area in 1891; in November 1892 eleven persons sat down to Remember the Lord at 1180 Queen Street West, including Mr. and Mrs. George Watson, Mr. and Mrs. William Stubbs, Mr. and Mrs. Richard Skeeles, Minnie Watson, and May Skeeles. The number rose to 17 the following Sunday. In July 1898, the group moved to a hall on Brock Avenue, south of Dundas Street. In 1928, the present Brock Avenue Gospel Hall was built north of Dundas Street, at 311 Brock Avenue.
William Stubbs, George Watson, and Richard Skeeles are considered the initiators of the assembly. These and Albert Jackson, Robert Bunting, James McClintock, Will Palmer, Tom Malcolm, Tom Williamson, Joe Coleman, Adam Walker, Ormer Sprunt, William Agnew, Robert Hamilton, Robert Steen, John Emerson, David Peat, Jack Joyce, Nelson Brooks, and George Beggs were among the early leaders. In later years, elders include William Lutley, John Vance, James E. Garvin, James S. Garwin, William Ensom, Sam McIntosh, William Brooks, Peter Waldrond, and Chris Boyko.
A hive-off from Brock Avenue is Mimico Gospel Hall in Toronto, which started as a Sunday School work in the 1940s, and first Broke Bread in January 1950.
Brock Avenue Gospel Hall built a hall on Ennerdale Road, Toronto to accommodate Sunday School work, and later sold it to the Ascot Assembly, then looking for a hall. This became the Fairbank Gospel Hall, an Italian Assembly.
Brock Avenue Gospel Hall has commended workers to Venezuela, Quebec, and Chile. Commended or co-commended evangelists have been Fred Watson, Ernest Sprunt, Frank Pearcey, Bert Joyce, George Heidman, and Bert Grainger.
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Those left at Farley after Brock Avenue Gospel Hall was formed decided to move, and in 1893 began meeting at Elm and Teraulay Streets. They later moved to 25 Charles Street and took the name Central Gospel Hall. The three assemblies, Broadview, Brock, and Central, united for the 1894 Conference.
The Toronto Conferences were major events of assembly life in that city. Initially held in January of each year, in the late 1890s, they changed to Easter. Massey Hall became the venue of the Annual Conference in 1916. The final Conference at Massey Hall was in 1932.
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In 1937, young Sam Montgomery, whose parents were in the Brock Avenue Gospel Hall, was instrumental in the salvation of several young people attending a United Church in the Mimico area. Jack Joyce and William Agnew helped disciple these new converts. A group of maturing believers developed from these Bible studies and met in homes, at St. Andrews Hall, and at the Orange Hall.
William Agnew purchased a lot at the corner of Melrose and Royal York Road for Gospel purposes. Tent meetings were held there by Messrs. Fred Watson, Albert Joyce, Sylvester, Blackwood, and William McBride over a period of years. In 1948, a building fund was started at Brock Avenue to build Mimico Gospel Hall on the property. The basement was finished first and meetings were started there in January 1950, with 20 in fellowship. The top of the Hall was finished in 1955.
Leadership at Mimico over the years has been shared by Ken Beasley, Ernie Jeffries, Frank Robinson, William Spencer, and Paul Robinson. Mimico Gospel Hall has commended workers to the Lord’s service in St. Lucia. About 110 adults and children attend the assembly.
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Leaside Bible Chapel in Toronto was started in 1948, always located at 826 Eglinton Avenue East. Its founders were C. Ernest Tatham, Elwood Reid, Sydney Hoffman, George Marsh, and Horace Holt. The leading brothers over the first 30 years were Elwood Reid, Wilson Flanagan, and David McNab. Leaside Bible Chapel has commended many full-time workers over the years. About 50 adults and children now attend Leaside Bible Chapel.
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Bethany Chapel in Toronto was established in 1953 in the area of Dufferin Street, north of Lawrence Avenue, and has been at that location since. Walter and Mary Ireland had moved into the area, which then had no evangelical church, little public transportation, and was considered isolated. Mary went from door to door and invited the neighborhood children to come to Sunday School at her house. Soon every room in the house was occupied with classes, as well as one on the stairway. They then bought a piece of land, and with the help of volunteers from various assemblies in Toronto, built Bethany Chapel.
The Irelands were assisted in their ministry by their family and by Betty Ismay and Pearl Winterburn, as well as others. Mr. Ireland was an elder at Bethany until he retired and moved away. Other leaders over the years have been Redvers Warren, George Dunning, Clinton Russell, Max Blom, Ian Malloch, John Dunning, Ron Crews, Ray Crews, Dieter Wisotzky, Brad Wilson, Leroy Blake, and Wilbert Clarke. The small assembly has commended workers to Japan, Pakistan, the Phillippines, Italy, Argentina, and to local ministry.
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Hilltop Chapel in Toronto began as an assembly in about 1957, meeting initially at Hilltop Public School. It officially became Hilltop Chapel in 1962 when it built its present chapel a few blocks away. Its founding members came from area assemblies such as the Olivet Assembly and West Moreland Assembly. Among these were James and Dorothy Copland, George and Ruby Wilkinson, Hugh and Irma Quigley, Gordon and Mary Mitchell, and David and Mary Connell. Elders over the years include the above men and Robert Bernado, Lawrence Clode, George Sinclair, John Cornish, Dave Rycroft, Andrew Rennie, Herb Ward, and Hugh Rodger. Hilltop Chapel has commended workers to Ecuador and to Intervarsity Christian Fellowship. Hugh and Marnie Rodger have been commended by the assembly to work with the senior age group. Hilltop Chapel has about 100 to 120 in attendance.
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Gilead Gospel Hall, on Broadview Avenue in Toronto, was in existence prior to 1932.
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Grace and Truth Gospel Hall in Toronto was at the corner of Greenwood and Queensdale Avenues. A.S. Brown was an elder there in 1945. Grace and Truth later became known as Greenwood Gospel Chapel, still at the same address.
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Lansing Gospel Hall in Willowdale, a suburb of Toronto, began when a blind lady, Mrs. Moss, who was unable to attend the existing assemblies in Toronto, prevailed upon Hubert Lucas, Sr. to begin a Sunday School in the home of her daughter and son-in-law, the Burfords. Mr. Lucas, in fellowship at Central Gospel Hall in Toronto, had moved to the area and began the Sunday School in 1917.
The growing work moved to the Lucas home for a few years. During the summers, meetings were held in a tent owned by Mr. Burford. Thomas Street became involved in the work in the Lansing area at about that time. In 1922, he constructed a hall on Elmhurst Avenue for the preaching of the Gospel, and the Sunday School work began meeting there.
Robert McClintock, George Shivas, and Joe Pierson carried out Gospel campaigns in the new hall. Souls were saved and people were baptized. These were received into fellowship at Central Gospel Hall. With the blessing of Central Gospel Hall, an assembly was established at the Lansing hall in 1924, which became known as Lansing Gospel Hall.
Leaders over the years include Hubert Lucas, Mr. Burford, Ged Crary, Tom Taylor, Laurence Granger, Harold Virgint, Larry Steers, Ernest Barrett, Herbert Simmons, Craig Peat, Michael Pears, Edward Chan, and Joseph Paul. The assembly has commended workers to the field in Canada, the U.S., and El Salvador, the latter jointly with Pape Avenue Gospel Hall in Toronto.
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Richvale Gospel Church began in 1949 in Richmond Hill, just north of Toronto. Those involved in the start-up were George Selkirk, Marg Cundy, and Wanda Smith. The church was not derived from another assembly, though Mr. Selkirk had a brethren background. Leadership over the years has been shared by Charlie Fevez, Henry Heidman, Floyd Wright, Ted Cundy, and Conrad Adams. Now known as Richvale Bible Chapel, and located one mile south of Richmond Hill, the assembly has over 150 in Sunday attendance.
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In about 1950, Fred Daniels of the Lansing Gospel Hall in Toronto established a Sunday School outreach in the area north of Newmarket, about 30 miles north of Toronto. Harold McCarthy joined in the work a little later, and the work continued faithfully for many years. In the 1980s, Rexdale Gospel Hall in Toronto, where Mr. Daniels was then in fellowship, acquired ownership of the building in which the Sunday School work was carried out.
At about the same time, the Gwillimbury Bible Fellowship was established and was meeting in a home in Holland Landing, near Newmarket. The leadership of the Rexdale assembly inquired if the Gwillimbury fellowship would have an interest in the Newmarket property, which they offered free with legal bills paid, and provided some funds to improve the building. Stephen and Ruth Adams, Peter and Susan Crowe, David and Emily Garvin, Harold McCarthy, and Stan and Barb Shields, all of Gwillimbury Bible Fellowship, felt led to accept the offer. Thus, River Drive Park Bible Chapel was born. The official opening was in September 1984.
The Lord blessed with new families, and the new assembly soon needed more space. In 1987, they purchased five acres a short distance away. In 1989, River Drive Park Bible Chapel occupied its new chapel. About 90 adults and children attend the assembly.
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Pickering Bible Chapel in the town of Pickering just east of Toronto, came into existence in 1981, formed by a group of eight families who came from Bendale Bible Chapel in Scarborough. The Christians initially met in a school in Pickering, then moved into their own building and took their current name Forest Brook Bible Chapel. The assembly has an attendance of around 800; leadership has been shared by many. Rod Wilson and Angus Henderson have been commended to ministry at the assembly.
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Another city just east of Toronto is Markham. People from several assemblies and other churches began home Bible studies there in 1956. These continued until 1959, when an old, unused church building at 11 Church Street was purchased and the Christians began Breaking Bread and having other meetings. Thus, the Markham Gospel Chapel was established. Those starting the assembly included Colin Anderson, John Farquharson, Fred Alsop, Douglas Gee, Walter Hayes, and Abe Stouffer.
That building was sold in 1990 and construction of a new chapel begun at 50 Cairns Drive. The assembly met at Ramerwood Public School until Markham Bible Chapel was opened in May 1991. The above men and Sam Nelson, Ron Gee, Eric Tennant, Bill Yuille, Dave McClure, Gary Corbett, Jim Lenaghan, Bill Letkeman, Hugh Beattie, Brian Doyle, and Daniel Masuello have served as elders. The assembly has commended workers to serve in the Philippines, Angola, Portugal, Turkey, and local evangelism ministries. About 260 attend Markham Bible Chapel.
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Port Hope Christian Assembly in the city of Port Hope on Lake Ontario, east of Toronto, began in 1983, renting space at the Art Smith Hall on Strachan Street. John and Ruth Barnard, in fellowship at West Hill Gospel Hall in Toronto, and Doug and Betty Ann Booth from Campbellford Gospel Hall were those who initiated the assembly. Both families had been commended by their parent assemblies to begin the new work. Three other families joined in fellowship at its beginning in April 1983, those of Bob and Agnes Banks, Doug and Roma Bee, and Bruce and Pat Gilley.
The group met in the rented building for a year, then purchased a store at 182 Cavan Street, and rebuilt it as Port Hope Gospel Hall. Jack Barnard maintains a web site for daily reflection. About 15 people are in the assembly today.
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Peterborough is a city some 20 miles north of Port Hope. There, in March 1965, the Edmison Heights Bible Chapel began, deriving from McDonnel Street Gospel Hall, Braidwood Bible Chapel, and Auburn Bible Chapel, all in Peterborough. Walter and Eleanor Best, Ralph and Marie Bigelow, Norm and Naomi Budge, Cecile and Dorothy Carveth, Don and Ada Ephbrave, Grant and Elaine Reader, Don and Gerrie Steele, and Jack and Marion Stevenson are those who started the assembly and have taken leadership. The assembly has commended several to the Lord’s work away and at home. About 120 are in Edmison Heights Bible Chapel.
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Springbook is near Hastings, east of Peterborough. Springbook Gospel Hall began in 1900, the result primarily of efforts by Jim Gibson and Mark Shortt, who had been saved shortly before. Active leaders over the years include Jim Gibson, Bob Scarlet, Tom Reid, Tom McKeown, Bob Reid, Harold Stapley, Paul McKeown, and Hubert Andrews. Now called Springbrook Bible Chapel the assembly has about 35 adults and youngsters in attendance.
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A few miles east of Belleville is Deseronto. The Deseronto Gospel Hall began around 1900 and has always been at the same location on George Street. Its origins have been lost in time, but leaders over the years include Edgar Beerley, William Root, and Allen Madigan. The evangelist G.P. Taylor was jointly commended by the Deseronto Gospel Hall and an assembly in Hartford, CT. About 25 adults and youngsters are in the assembly today.
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River Road Gospel Hall in Ottawa, the capital of the Province and near its eastern side, began in the late 1870s or early 1880s; the assembly is known to have been in existence well before George Smith arrived from England in 1890. Though no founding names are available, the originators were no doubt immigrants from England, Ireland, and Scotland. The earliest known meeting place of the assembly was before 1910 at the old Orange Hall on Albert Street. In 1910, the assembly built the Gospel Hall on McLeod Street. In 1914, a division occurred, and the remnants of the assembly moved into the new Orange Hall on Gloucester Street.
During the war years from 1939 to 1945, rental accommodation in Ottawa was very difficult to obtain because of expropriation of any available property by the Government for war use. On a number of occasions, the meetings had to be held in homes. In 1941, the assembly occupied a small room at 283 Bank Street; in 1942 they were at 780 Bronson Avenue. After the war, the assembly moved to Orange Hall on Gladstone Avenue in 1947; in 1957 to the Gospel Hall at 857 Somerset Street West; and finally, in 1964 into the Gospel Hall at 1087 River Road, their present location.
Principal leaders in the years after 1900 included Herbert Hume, George Smith, and Thomas Shields, and in later years Kenneth Prince, Mervyn Cottrill, Raeburn MacDougall and Douglas Patten.
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Rideauview Bible Chapel in Ottawa, at 1249 Prince of Wales Drive, has been in existence since at least the early 1970s. Bridlewood Bible Chapel in Kanata on the west side of Ottawa began in 1984 as a hive-off from Rideauview Bible Chapel. Fred Shaver, Alex Kilgour, Harry Norris, and Gary Allan were the principals in forming the new assembly, which met initially in a house at 465 Eagleson Road. Over a period of several years, 1988 to 1993, the Christians built a chapel on the same property. Bridlewood Bible Chapel has commended workers to local ministry in the Ottawa Valley. About 150 adults and 50 children attend Bridlewood Bible Chapel.
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On the east side of Ottawa was the Castle Heights Assembly, where Louis Germaine and Leonard Thomas held cottage meetings for French-speaking people in the 1950s. Plans were laid by believers at Clarey Avenue Chapel in Ottawa to build a chapel in that section, but the French population had moved out before the chapel was completed. Eight Christians from the Clarey Avenue assembly then moved to the area to form the English-speaking Castle Heights Assembly.
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Osgoode is a small town south of Ottawa. In the 1890s, the Everets family Remembered the Lord together, and others joined them. The group grew and in 1900 George and Minnie Otto donated property with a building for the purpose of assembly worship. This was called the Osgoode Gospel Hall. In 1904 an addition was put on, doubling the size of the building. Today, the same building is called Osgoode Bible Chapel.
Leading brothers in the assembly include Karl Knuth, Murray Oickle, Percy Jackson, Rick Oickle, David Cox, Keith Lapsley, George Maxwell, Bligh Stockwell, Leonard Thomas, George Grey, Louie Germain, Rolly Jaekel, Alonzo Scherdfiger, Arnie McClelland, Sam Smith, Dan Everets, and Lionel McKean. The assembly has commended a worker to the foreign field. About 15 adults and children are in the assembly today.
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At Winchester, 30 miles from Ottawa, Gospel meetings were held in the early 1950s by different brethren in the home of a local farmer, Arrington Stewart. Other meetings were held in the town hall. Several were saved, and the Christians built their own meeting place, Bethany Chapel, in the heart of Winchester.
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Sixty miles northwest of Ottawa is Renfrew. A new assembly started through cottage meetings in the home of Alex Kilgour. Much interest was shown among church people in the town, and in about 1956, the Renfrew assembly was established in the mid-1950s and built Elmwood Gospel Chapel. William McRae gave much help to this assembly in its early days. Now called Elmwood Bible Chapel, the assembly is still at the same location at 200 Francis Street.
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Two older assemblies in the Ottawa area are Deacon Gospel Hall, which continues, and Bethel Gospel Hall in Arnprior a few miles from Renfrew, which disbanded in about 1990.
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North of Renfrew, on the Quebec border, is the city of Pembroke. Cottage meetings in the home of L. Pilatske resulted in the formation of a new assembly in 1957. Jim Booker was instrumental in the beginning of this assembly, meeting at the Emmanuel Gospel Chapel at 235 McKenzie Street, originally a one-room schoolhouse. After a time, the assembly met in the Pinewood School in nearby Petawawa. Later, the assembly moved back to Pembroke as the Pembroke Bible Chapel on Highway 62. In leadership over the years have been Messrs. Pilatzke, Noss, Schutt, Axford, Floyd, Ghent, Lockley, and Renault. Workers have been commended by the assembly to the Lord’s work in Tennessee and Guinea, West Africa, as well as local work. About 60 adults and children attend Pembroke Bible Chapel.
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The nine northern townships in Hastings County were struggling with their identities in the second half of the nineteenth century. The area, close to what is now the Algonquin Provincial Park, was in an uneasy transition from the dominance of roving loggers to that of settlers.
The evangelist Richard Irving was responsible for the establishment and encouragement of many assemblies in the area usually called North Hastings. He provided this account: “In April 1885, I heard from a young convert of a needy section of country about one hundred miles north of Belleville, Ontario, then known as the backwoods of Ontario. This brother, named Colp, had just moved there and had taken up land a few miles outside the village of Bancroft.... I found brother Colp’s house in the midst of forest with perhaps twenty yards of clearance around it.
We also found, among these humble settlers, converted people of the old-fashioned Methodist type. They listened hungrily to the gospel, preached perhaps in a simpler way than they had previously heard it with constant reference to the Scriptures. The Bible became a new book to them. It caused a stir among these people and many were saved; others were established.... The ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper were quickly understood, as also what the Word said about His coming. The Table was spread, and a small company assembled in His name alone and partook of the emblems... Thus, in this simple way this first assembly was formed in that locality....”
This would become the Lakeview Assembly. The community of Lakeview is about five miles east of Bancroft. James Maxwell had opened his home for Mr. Irving’s first meeting in the Lakeview area in May 1885. He emerged as a spiritual leader and stalwart of the Lakeview Assembly. All his twelve children were at one time in fellowship in that assembly.
Lakeview and the Maxwell Settlement were centers of concentrated activity in the early years primarily because of the zeal of Godfrey and Rosetta Colp. Mr. Colp had moved his family to the area to begin homesteading and started having house meetings at which some were saved. He could not read, so through the week his wife would read him the passage from which he expected to preach. Knowing his limitations, he contacted Richard Irving, then living in Belleville, to come help. Mr. Irving came and continued during May and most of June, seeing several saved and baptized, then started the assembly. J. Norman Case, later associated with the China Inland Mission, also helped initiate this work and spent three entire summers in the area with good results.
In October 1891, John and Barbara Sararas deeded a parcel of land to Thomas Maxwell, William Redman, Henry Switzer, John Sararas, Henry C. Gaebel, Robert Graham and Richard Payne, “trustees of the Hall of the Christians gathering in the name of the Lord in the Township of Dungannon.” This was the first ownership of land by an assembly in the area and shows that the work at Lakeview was reasonably well established by then and that a number of families were clearly committed to a simple gathering of believers unto the name of Jesus Christ.
A purpose of the trust was described as”...to build a Hall and other buildings to be used as a Hall for the gathering of the Christian Brethren: to permit Dwelling House on said premises..., to permit Sunday Schools to be carried on in the said Hall, to take down and remove buildings and to rebuild, ...and to sell graves and tombs...”
The first building the assembly used was a log building which burned after a Christmas tea one Sunday evening, not later than 1902. After the fire, a frame building was constructed and is still in use as the Lakeview Gospel Hall. John Sararas placed Scripture texts on the inside wall of the Hall. It was through these texts that Wellington Maxwell came to faith in Christ. In the absence of preachers, James Maxwell Sr. spoke and led the ‘Bible reading,’ as the mid_week Bible study was then called. Mr. Maxwell had a large heart of concern for the flock. If people were absent from the Lord’s Supper meeting, they could expect that they would receive a visit from him early in the week. His intention was to encourage rather than scold. After the seventy-year-old James and his wife Jane moved to Bancroft in 1912, his sons Wellington and Archie appear to have shared the major responsibilities of the Lakeview Assembly.
During this era, Sunday School was held in the morning, the Lord’s Supper was observed in the afternoon, evening services were held on Sunday if a preacher was present, and a Bible Study and Prayer Meeting were held on a weekday evening. Attendance at the Breaking of Bread was around 30; the Hall would be full for Sunday evening meetings when a preacher was there.
Around the turn of the century several of the Reynolds family moved to Bancroft and most of them attended meetings at Lakeview until the assembly in Bancroft was firmly established. Elvin Reynolds married Alberta Maxwell, daughter of James Sr., and moved onto a farm in the Maxwell Settlement; they began taking an active and responsible part in the Lakeview Assembly.
Around 1915, Sunday School attendance averaged about 35. Teachers included Wellington Maxwell and his wife Catherine, Walter Maxwell, and Eunice and Gertie Mountney. Families involved in the Assembly around 1920 included Frasers, Maxwells, Mountneys, Reynolds, Shannicks, Sickers, Vardys and Yorks. In the coldest part of winter, the Lord’s Supper was sometimes observed in the home of Wellington Maxwell or Elvin Reynolds. For a period of time in the 1920s and perhaps earlier, Wellington Maxwell also conducted Sunday School at the Maxwell Settlement Schoolhouse. He is remembered with much respect as a leader.
In the late 1920s, Elvin Reynolds, Archie Maxwell and Max Reynolds started carrying the major responsibility for the meetings. By 1931, Max Reynolds was taking an active part at Lakeview and frequently speaking at other assemblies. A pump organ was purchased after Max and Helen Reynolds’ marriage and Helen played this at meetings other than the Breaking of Bread until they stopped having meetings at Lakeview in the early 1960s. Throughout the history of the Lakeview Assembly The Believer\'s Hymn Book was used for the Lord’s Supper and Redemption Songs was used at other meetings.
Shortly after the return of the Audry Maxwell family from Prince Edward County in 1941, Audry began teaching the boys in Sunday School. By 1944, the attendance was about fifteen. Surnames of people involved in the mid-1940s included Barkers, Cards, Frazers, Maxwells, Reynolds, Shannicks, Sickers and Vardys.
A post World War II migration of people from Lakeview area farms to Bancroft and other places greatly reduced the number of people involved. By the mid-1950s the Max Reynolds, Bob Jenkins and Ed Vardy families were all driving from Bancroft to keep the work going.
By the early 1960s, the families responsible for the Sunday School were getting past the age where they found it easy to relate to the younger children, attendance was down, and little local interest seemed to be evident. Sunday School at the Bancroft Gospel Hall was growing and busing was playing a major role in attracting children to that Sunday School. Consequently, in about 1961 the Lakeview Gospel Hall was closed, children from the area were bused to Bancroft for Sunday School, and the families who had been involved there were received into fellowship in Bancroft. The Lakeview Gospel Hall was reopened in 1966 by people who had been driving from the immediate Bancroft area to New Carlow for Breaking of Bread, Sunday School and a mid_week meeting. This group emerged after the extended meetings Robert McLaren held in Bancroft in 1960, out of a concern that area assemblies were drifting away from their historic biblical position.
Lakeview Gospel Hall functioned in its original location near Clarke Lake until 1994, when a new hall was built at Boundary Lake about two miles north of the original location. Five families are in the assembly today. Leadership over these many years has been shared by these named, and more recently Audrey Maxwell, Cecil Brownson, Herman Mitchell, Andy Freymond, and Mark Freymond.
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Another assembly in the area soon began in the ”Fiss Settlement,” now called Graphite. On the day after his arrival at Mr. Colp’s in May 1885, Richard Irving walked ten miles to hold a Gospel meeting. The most probable location was the Fiss Settlement because of the distance mentioned, the number of German settlers living in that area and Colp’s German background. The first simple Lord’s Supper meeting, with eight persons in attendance, was held there on the afternoon of Sunday March 29, 1887, probably in the Fiss Schoolhouse or the home of Fred Fiss Sr. Mr. Irving held many Gospel meetings there over the next several years.
In October 1900, William and Albertina Bahm of the Fiss Settlement deeded land in Monteagle Township to three trustees, John Goodkey, Herman Kelusky, and Richard Irving. The Graphite Gospel Hall was built shortly after this. The only known detail of the construction of the building is that John Goodkey made bricks and built the chimney. The building was used until 1976 when a new building, the Graphite Bible Chapel was erected on the grounds of the Graphite Bible Camp.
The Breaking of Bread services at the Fiss Settlement were on Sunday afternoons. Mr. Irving recorded that 11 attended on one of his visits in 1917, showing almost no growth in the three intervening decades. He remarked that ”Mrs. Brose keeps Sunday School going to her credit.” The movement of several of the Bahms and Fisses to other areas, as well as the migration of other families to the West, greatly reduced the number of people committed to the Graphite Assembly in the early years of this century.
In the early 1930s, Fred Brose invited Robert Jenkins to help with the work at Graphite where ten to fifteen children were then attending Sunday School. Through the nonwinter months from 1933 to 1943, he traveled to Graphite for a morning Sunday School and returned to his home in Hybla for afternoon Sunday School classes. Sunday School attendance at Graphite increased to between forty-five and fifty.
Work among the adults continued though remaining small until the 1940s. During his second visit to the Bancroft area in 1937, John Martin was introduced to the Graphite Assembly and the Brose family by Simon Brownson. In about 1940, he arranged for a week of meetings at Graphite, and recalled a small Breaking of Bread meeting, with the Brose’s and Mr. and Mrs. Ross Olmstead as regulars.
In 1947, George Butcher Sr. and Gordon Bigelow were in the area showing a Gospel film. One of the people whom the faithful Mrs. Brose invited to the meeting at the Graphite Gospel Hall was Mrs. Sam Robinson, whose son Doug was gloriously saved under the ministry of Robert Jenkins. Doug Robinson later sold his business and went into full time work for the Lord.
In 1961, when the area assemblies were reluctant to get involved, Doug Robinson formed a committee, bought land on Graphite Lake, and started Graphite Bible Camp, a fee-free day camp for children. Mr. and Mrs. Robert McLaren Sr. helped for three years at the camp and then John and Melissa Martin helped in this work through the summer of 1971. Doug’s nephews, Garry and Boyd Robinson and their spouses would later take over the responsibilities of the day-to-day operation of the Camp. The Camp has proved to be a great blessing in the area.
Leadership at Graphite since the earliest years includes William Boehme, Fred Brose, Ross Olmstead, Harvey Peelow, Doug Robinson, Boyd Robinson, and Garry Robinson. Mrs. Fred Brose and Mr. Robert Jenkins are especially remembered for their long and faithful work with the young people in the 1930s and 1940s. From its small numbers in the early days, Graphite Bible Chapel today has about 150 in attendance at the Family Bible Hour.
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In 1925, Fred Brose heard David McLean preach in a logging camp and invited him to the Graphite area. One of the many people who were saved under his ministry was Robert William Jenkins. Not long after his conversion, Robert Jenkins began to witness to family and friends giving evidence of an evangelist’s heart. In 1928, he married Janie Rutledge and moved to a farm east of Hybla. During the summer months of about 1930 through 1932 he held Sunday school in the morning in his childhood schoolhouse at Greenview, often walking the seven or eight miles to Greenview, conducting a Sunday School, then walking back home for an afternoon Sunday School. In about 1933, the Jenkins’ moved into Hybla Station and continued with an afternoon Sunday School in their home. By the early 1940s, attendance at Hybla averaged between thirty-five and forty.
In the fall of 1943, the Hybla Gospel Tabernacle was opened through the efforts of the Jenkins’. Although this work was not a brethren assembly in the historical sense, many assembly preachers were invited and held meetings there. The Lord’s Supper was held there only during the first year or so and even then, it was on an irregular basis. Janie Jenkins later stated that Robert chose to call the building a Tabernacle to avoid the use of the word Hall, because of its association with dances, the Orange Lodge, and other halls.
Les Sutherland was faithful in his assistance with the Hybla work. Mr. and Mrs. Jenkins moved to Bancroft in the spring of 1947 but continued with the Hybla afternoon Sunday School and evening Gospel Meeting for another year or two. With better roads and more reliable automobiles available, people were able to travel with greater ease to either Graphite or Bancroft and the decision was made to discontinue the Hybla work.
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Bancroft was one of the larger villages in North Hastings. Settled in 1862, it consisted primarily of flour, saw, woollen, and shingle mills in its early days. In 1855 a young Englishman, Alfred Barker, was among those who first arrived in the area. He was the grandfather of Roy and Gordon Barker and great grandfather of Ken Barker, all of whom have been in fellowship in the assembly meeting in the Bancroft Bible Chapel.
Up until 1902, some of the families who lived in Bancroft, such as the Reynolds, traveled the few miles out to Lakeview. In 1902, Tom Maxwell moved his family to town and opened a harness shop. At about that time, Bancroft residents began to meet over Tom’s Harness Shop and the Bancroft assembly has been in existence ever since. Early leadership was in the hands of Tom Maxwell, Jim Reynolds and Albert Reynolds.
The earliest clear reference to the Bancroft Gospel Hall comes from the local newspaper’s Halloween report for l903, in which the Gospel Hall sign was noted to have been transported to a conspicuous position on Flynn’s liquor store.
In the years which followed Richard Irving’s first visit to Bancroft, the area received constant rounds of visits from many itinerant brethren preachers. These preachers would arrive without invitation or warning and announce their intentions with respect to meetings and accommodations.
A report from Hybla that a ”large number from here attended the conference held in Bancroft last week” suggests a central conference at Bancroft for the area in the early 1900s. Richard Irving was a frequent speaker at the Bancroft Conferences. In 1905, a fall conference was held in Bancroft at which Tom Black, Robert Telfer, Irving, Pinches, Robert McClintock, and Joe Pearson participated. Richard Irving’s last known visit to Bancroft was in the fall of 1942, when he was 85 years old. Although his work was primarily that of an evangelist, he was diligent in instructing new converts about Christian life and practice.
By 1908, Mr. E.W. Roughley had moved into Bancroft from his farm near Paudash Lake and John Gilchrist had moved to town from the Highland Grove area. The Bancroft Times reported the September 20, 1911 marriage in Bancroft of Mr. and Mrs. Clapp’s eldest daughter Pearl to a young assembly evangelist, Leonard Sheldrake from Toronto. Mr. Roughley performed the ceremony.
At the turn of the century the North Hastings region was experiencing unprecedented prosperity and its population was at a peak. When the l901 Census was taken, Bancroft’s population was about 600 and by 1904, its population had risen to 815. However, the migration of families and young men to Western Canada was gaining momentum. This movement of people not only had economic repercussions but also profoundly affected the brethren assemblies of the area and eventually claimed several preachers who lived and ministered here. The North Hastings area, which at one time was home to at least five and perhaps even seven brethren preachers, by 1921 was home to at most one.
In the 1901 Canadian Census, 6361 people were living in the nine northern townships of Hastings County. In 1911, that number was 6273, and in 1921 the Census recorded 6060 residents.
The first known references to Harold Jones and George Calverley ministering in the district were contained in the February 8, 1917, Bancroft Times. Harold Jones and his in_laws the Hookers had moved to Bancroft by 1918. Mr. Jones had a Gospel tent which he and Mr. Hooker pitched from place to place. Harold Jones is remembered as an energetic, boisterous fellow who loved to sing. For the two years that he lived in Bancroft, his presence was felt. For most of July 1919, he had his tent pitched at Baptiste Lake.
By 1918, the Clapps were living in Alberta and Mr. Roughley probably had passed away. In July 1920, Mr. and Mrs. Chas. Hooker, and Mr. and Mrs. Jones, moved to Orillia.
At the turn of the decade it would appear that Mr. Rowe was the only assembly preacher who might have been living in North Hastings. The apparent stagnation in which the area assemblies found themselves however was broken by the arrival of the powerful and personable Gospel preacher, R.J. Brooks. Mr. Brooks was an energetic, down_to_earth man who was deeply respected by those who knew him.
In January 1924, Richard James Brooks arrived from Shelbourne for Gospel meetings. On the first night of the meetings, Eunice Maxwell was saved, and when Richard Irving arrived, he discovered ”Great meetings in progress by Lynn and Brooks, about 16 or 17 have professed.” In March, Mr. Brooks came again to Bancroft to hold meetings in the Bancroft Gospel Hall.
A special open air Baptismal Service was held at Lakeview on Sunday, June 22nd, at 2 p.m., conducted by Brooks and Lynn. That day over 30 people were baptized and most of them had been saved during meetings the previous winter. Another seven or eight were baptized at Lakeview in September.
The large number of converts the previous winter were now crowding the meeting room over the Drug Store at 3 Bridge Street West in Bancroft, then the location of the Bancroft Gospel Hall. At Mr. Brooks’ prodding a larger facility, the previously closed Presbyterian Church, was rented in July 1924 and later purchased by the assembly. That October, about 125 broke bread at the Bancroft Conference in the Community Hall in the morning; in the afternoon the Hall was full as Messrs. Wellman, Gilchrist, Irving, Miller, and Brooks spoke.
Richard Irving was sensitive to the vacuum which had been created in the area by the departure of preachers such as Clapp and Gilchrist, as well as the death of Mr. Roughley, and sought to compensate with biannual month long visits. In March 1925, he was in Bancroft having meetings almost every night; he noted that 55 Broke Bread in Bancroft one Sunday of his stay. The Bancroft Conference was moved to June in 1925, and the number of people in attendance reflected the effects of the revival under the ministry of R.J. Brooks. Mr Irving recorded that about 215 broke bread in the Community Hall. By late summer of 1925, Mr. Irving was back in the area and on September 6, thirty-eight people were present at a Lord’s Supper meeting at the Hartsmere Assembly. In July 1927, Richard Irving was at Hartsmere where he spoke at a full schoolhouse.
In February 1926, R.J. Brooks held a series of meetings in the Old Presbyterian Church in Bancroft. At the Bancroft Conference, about 250 observed the Lord’s Supper, and approximately 400 people filled the Community Hall to hear George Rainey, Mr. Pinches, Mr. Heathwood, Sam Benner, Richard Irving, and R.J. Brooks preach. Small and large baptisms were a regular feature throughout the district in the years after Mr. Brooks’ first visit.
With Mr. and Mrs. Lynn living in Bancroft, the area assemblies received pastoral care which had been missing for several years. Although Mr. Lynn was not a good ‘platform man,’ he was diligent in visitation and personal witness. Mr. and Mrs. Ross McConkey moved to Bancroft in the mid-1930s and remained there most of the years into the 1950s. Leadership in Bancroft was shared by Albert Reynolds and Tom Brownson in the 1930s and 1940s. Tom continued faithfully into the late 1980s. Simon Brownson, Tom’s brother, faithfully preached the Gospel and visited homes in the area from the 1940s into the 1990s.
A new larger building was built on the main street in 1952 with much volunteer labor under the supervision of George Easton. After the first prayer meeting, it was badly damaged by fire, was rebuilt, has had two renovation/expansions since, and is known as the Bancroft Bible Chapel.
Robert McLaren Jr. came in February 1960 for two weeks of Gospel Meetings. The Spirit of God caused a ‘stir’ and when the meetings ended 10 weeks later, at least 75 people had professed salvation or been restored to the Lord. Many were young people. People were burdened to pray at 6:00 a.m. prayer meetings and after the evening meetings. The youth group grew to over 70, and the Sunday School began to grow. In the years which followed many were commended to the Lord’s work in North America and overseas.
Ernie Belch and his wife Evelyn moved to Bancroft in the mid-1960s and worked with the assembly until the end of 1984. George Butcher and his wife Eunice began working with the assembly in 1985 and continue to the present. Messrs. Belch and Butcher did about fifty percent of the Sunday preaching. By the early 1980s, about 225 were in fellowship in Bancroft and about 275 adults and teens were attending Family Bible Hour regularly.
In 1987 a committee was formed to evaluate a government program for housing for seniors. By 1988 the Bancroft Bible Chapel Non-profit Housing Corporation was formed, and by April 1989, seniors occupied the attractive 40-apartment R.J. Brooks Living Centre immediately behind the Chapel.
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In 1983, the assembly at Bancroft Bible Chapel was considering whether to enlarge their facilities, move to a new location, or hive-off a new assembly. It seemed that a natural hive-off of those living in the L’Amable area, which is about four miles south of Bancroft, was the better idea. So, with the blessing of the Bancroft elders, the new assembly, called L’Amable Bible Chapel began in September 1983 in an old schoolhouse with four classrooms. The Christians were given freedom to renovate it to suit their needs. Although it was old, it met their needs for the first 10 years.
The Christians saw the desirability of having their own building to show the community they were a permanent part of it. Over a period of approximately two and a half years, a new building was constructed by the Christians in the assembly, having about 6000 square feet. The chapel was ready in October 1993, and the assembly was debt free in two years.
The first elders were Roger Easton and Glenn Sargeant; later George Tenthorey joined, and after that Durl Lott and David Burke. Several have been commended to the Lord’s work in Jamaica, Puerto Rico, and Ireland. Others have been commended for work at Joy Bible Camp, Kawartha Lakes Bible College, and ministry within Ontario. About 200 attend L’Amable Bible Chapel.
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The fact that 40 observed the Lord’s Supper at one place in North Hastings in 1889 is significant and reflects the growth in numbers which was experienced in the early years. The only preachers known to have preached in the area up to this time were Richard Irving, J.N. Case, W. H. Stanger and Henry Turner.
While J.N. Case was ministering in the Lakeview area in 1885, Henry Turner was at Boulter in Carlow Township. Initially Mr. Turner was given permission to hold meetings in the Presbyterian Church, but the leadership became concerned when people started to get saved, and Mr. Turner was asked to leave. He obtained a tent which he pitched down the road from the church and continued the meetings.
The work received added impetus in 1890 when a 52 year old bachelor, Fleming May, left the mercantile business, entered full time Christian service and moved to Carlow Township. The same year, he and Mr. J. E. Morton began preaching together and continued to do so until Mr. May’s death in 1924.
Fleming May lived in Carlow Township in the 1890s, and it is probable that Ed Morton did as well. Sometime before 1898, they worked in Gooderham, Bear Lake and Irondale in Haliburton County. The Gooderham Assembly was formed at that time. From August 1898 until May 1899, they lived and preached in the Silver Lake, Harvey, and North Veralum areas near Napanee and started the Harvey Assembly. These assemblies have long been disbanded.
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In September 1897, G. C. Rolph and his father Alfred Rolph were creating a stir in the Boulter area as they held meetings in the Havergal Schoolhouse. The work in the Boulter area was progressing and in February 1901, William and Sarah Demeral deeded land in Carlow Township to Fleming May. Construction of a building on this property began in 1902. Last names of those who worked on the building include Demeral, Graham, Hannah, Hoover, Inwood, Loney(s), Lott, Ralph, Reddick(s), Stringer, Sutherland(s), Taylor(s) and Wannamaker. In September 1902, the Bancroft Times reported that ”Mr. Clapp, Gospel minister, is preaching in the old Orange Hall at Boulter.”
In May 1905, a conference was held at Boulter and Mr. Irving noted that perhaps 50 Broke Bread; he, Gilchrist, and William Pinches spoke at other meetings during the day. The renamed Boulter Gospel Chapel is still in use in 1999. On Sunday February 3, 1924 only eight persons Broke Bread in the Boutler assembly, according to Richard Irving’s diary.
James Pennock carried a lot of the responsibilities for the work in the 1920s and 1930s. Other families attending in those years included the Taylors, Chatertons, Bronsons, Caverleys, Inwoods and Hannahs. In the late 1920s, the Boulter Assembly also received renewed vigor from the preaching of Mr. Brooks.
The same post-Depression factors that caused people in the Lakeview, Graphite, New Carlow, Hartsmere and Beechmount areas to migrate to Bancroft and larger centers, affected Boulter. By 1939, the Chapel was only being used for special meetings when a preacher came for a visit and for a few meetings in the summer.
In 1949, Glendon Budarick and his sister Irene, and Llewellyn Hartwick and his sister Gwen were saved and baptized. In 1950, these young people started the Sunday School which continues to the present. They were helped by Mrs. Myrtle Edwards and George Lackey. By 1953 Sunday services were being held on a regular basis. Through the years since, George Lackey, Lee Caverly, Glen Budarick, and Gary Hass have carried the responsibility for this work.
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New Carlow or Little Carlow also received many visits from assembly preachers. On May 28, 1908 Nesbitt Thomas Armstrong purchased the log schoolhouse from the school trustees and sold it for the same price to three trustees for the ”Assembly of Christians” on June 25. Richard Irving reported that he went with James Maxwell Sr. to Carlow and Remembered the Lord at the Little Carlow Assembly on a Sunday afternoon in December 1909. In September 1926, Mr. Irving Broke Bread at the New Carlow Assembly with ”about a dozen” people. The log structure was replaced by a frame building in the 1940s. Jack and Irene (Budarick) Allison and Buddy Armstrong helped with the Sunday School in the 1950s and Audrey Maxwell and others traveled from Bancroft in the early 1960s. The assembly closed in 1966.
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After the death of Godfrey Colp Sr., his widow Rosetta married Abraham Brethour, a bachelor from Beechmount, west of Bancroft. Through her efforts and encouragement a few believers began to meet in their log house in 1896 or 1897, to observe the Lord’s Supper. This was the beginning of the Beechmount assembly. The work was growing and the need for a building of their own was clear. Consequently, in March 1905, Abraham Brethour and his wife Rosetta deeded land in Faraday Township to the local brethren. By late summer 1906, a building was in service, the Beechmount Gospel Hall. In June 1927, Mr. Irving was with the Beechmount assembly, where he gathered with about twenty people to Remember the Lord. Families involved in this work included Brethours, Clarks, Coverts, Mitchells and Plumleys.
In the 1930s several of the families moved to Bancroft or larger centers such as Peterborough and by 1942 it was decided to close the Beechmount assembly.
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West of the North Hastings area is Huntsville, a town a little over 100 miles due north of Toronto. About twelve miles from there is Deer Lake. In about 1890, evangelist David Scott came to Deer Lake to preach. He found an old unused schoolhouse and found people receptive to the Gospel. He labored there until an assembly was planted, even bringing his bride there. The Christians probably first met in the home of John and Martha Nickason or James W. Nickason in 1890.
Under Mr. Scott’s direction, the Christians built a small Deer Lake Gospel Hall on a piece of land on the north side of Stephenson Road 1. Traveling preachers held Gospel meetings there over a period of many years, including N.D. Brown, J.J. Rouse, Fred Watson, Herbert Harris, Ormer Sprunt, Ed Heels, and many others. J.J. Rouse pioneered at Emberson and would walk 14 miles down to Deer Lake on a Saturday and stay at John Nickason’s, Remember the Lord on Sunday, and walk back to Emberson in the afternoon to hold a Gospel meeting there in the evening. As was the custom, the Christians at Deer Lake Gospel Hall held yearly conferences for many years, in a tent pitched in a field just west of the Hall.
One early member of the assembly was Herbert Taylor, who was saved in 1891. He later moved to Saskatchewan and settled near Taylorside, an area named for him, and was instrumental in the formation of the Taylorside Assembly. Some other early members of the assembly were Mr. and Mrs. Sam Orr, Mr. and Mrs. Irwin Orr, Mr. and Mrs. James Hughes Sr., Mrs. Joe Oliver Sr., Mrs. Humphrey, and the Huggins family.
It seems that the assembly ceased to Break Bread about 1925. Some of the Deer Lake Christians traveled to Huntsville to Break Bread in the Huntsville Gospel Hall. Alfred Huggins continued on in Deer Lake with a Sunday School work that he carried on faithfully for over 40 years. Gospel series were held in the little Deer Lake hall many times in the 1930s and 1940s. Among the preachers then were Ben Widdifield, Ernie Sprunt, and David Adams. From 1957 on, Gospel meetings were held every Sunday evening in the little hall. Brethren came from Huntsville to preach, and Alf Huggins and Bert French would help.
About 30 assembly Christians living in the Deer Lake area were in fellowship in the Huntsville Gospel Hall in the 1960s. With encouragement of the Christians at Huntsville, they began talking of hiving off and reviving the assembly at Deer Lake. When a level plot across from Alf Huggins’ home was donated, and several large financial contributions were made, these Christians began construction of a larger hall in 1976, and in 1977 the Christians were Remembering the Lord in the new Deer Lake Gospel Hall. Today, there are about 40 to 50 adults and youngsters in the assembly.
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North of Huntsville is the town of South River. A Bible study began there in about 1885 in the home of William and Elizabeth Holditch. William had left the Anglican church, and Elizabeth was the daughter of a Methodist circuit rider in the Muskoka area. How they came to a New Testament style of meeting is not remembered. William Holditch died in 1899, and it was about then that a Gospel Hall was built. Early leaders can be inferred from an announcement dated 1901 of the Second Annual Convention held in the Gospel Hall, signed by G. Wilson, George Doolittle, L. Malley, and D. Ganton. From 1899 to 1983 the group’s meeting place was called the South River Gospel Hall and since then it has had the name South River Christian Assembly. Among the more recent leaders have been Jim Craig, Ed Brooks, and Ken Hall. The assembly has commended workers to the field in Russia and Zambia; Matthew Craig is commended as a youth worker for the area. South River Christian Assembly has a Sunday attendance averaging about 50, but sometimes reaching about 100.
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Burk’s Falls is about 20 miles north of Huntsville. Burk’s Falls Gospel Chapel was started there in 1975, derived from Dunchurch Gospel Chapel, which disbanded in the late 1980s. The Don Lane and Clarke Kennedy families initiated the assembly. Clarke Kennedy and George Hosick are the elders at Burk’s Falls Gospel Chapel, which has six adults in fellowship, and meets at 239 Queen Street.
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Haliburton is southeast of Huntsville and is the location of West Guilford Gospel Chapel. The Haliburton assembly was started in homes around 1928 by a Mr. May and a Mr. Morton, both of them of brethren backgrounds. In leadership have been Benjamin Sawyer, Ernest Cooper, Stuart Wilson, and James Cooper. Missionaries have been commended by the assembly to Zambia. About 50 adults and children attend West Guilford Gospel Chapel.
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In about 1918, Sam Taylor, a Scots evangelist, came to the ‘Tri-Town’ area of Cobalt, Haileybury, and New Liskeard, about 80 miles north of North Bay near the boundary with Quebec. Through his efforts, assemblies were planted in Haileybury and New Liskeard. At the New Liskeard Gospel Hall in 1946 were the Wesley Richards family, the Whittles, and Tom and Alma Wood. The Haileybury Gospel Hall amalgamated with the New Liskeard Gospel Hall in the late 1960s.
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Earlton, Charlton, and Englehart are a trio of small towns about 25 miles north of New Liskeard and near the Quebec province boundary. Assemblies established in those three villages had much interaction. The railroad was pushed north from North Bay, reaching New Liskeard in 1904 and Earlton in 1905, then continued north to Englehart from there. As the railroad came through, farm lots were made available to settlers.
In the fall of 1905, four young men from Muskoka came to establish their farming claims. These were Albert and Alfred Carr, Hugh Fergusson, and Jim Baldwin, all related. In 1903, Albert Carr had been in Toronto, where he was saved and became associated with the Brock Avenue Gospel Hall. There he met John Sylvester, who was just starting out in the Lord’s work, and Fred Watson. John Sylvester and J.J. Rouse had held Gospel meetings in New Liskeard prior to that time.
In 1907, John Slyvester and Fred Watson held Gospel meetings in New Liskeard. Albert Carr walked the 24 miles from his home at Earlton to meet them and encourage them to come to Earlton for more Gospel efforts, which they did. Many were saved, and an assembly was established, meeting first in the log shanty that Albert Carr lived in while building his house. Breaking of Bread and Gospel meetings were held in this shanty, and people crowded into it and around the outside. When Mr. Carr completed his house about two years later, the assembly met there; in 1911 the Christians were able to build the Earlton Gospel Hall three miles west of Earlton. A new hall built in 1984 at the same location.
Early conversions and additions to the assembly were the families of Alfred Carr, Hugh Fergusson, Jim Baldwin, Harry Baldwin, Arthur Burley, Edgar Burley, George Eaton, and Alton Ralph. Among those who came a little later were the William Potter, Percy Booth, Sam Hall, and Ivan Field families. Traveling preachers came regularly to Earlton, including John Sylvester, Fred Watson, George Shivas, and Ben Widdifield from Huntsville.
Leaders of the assembly, besides those already mentioned, include Fred Hall, Fred Taylor, Bethuel Carr, John Potter, Clifford Hall, Eric Taylor and Philip Potter. The assembly has commended a worker to Manitoulin Island. About 35 adults and children attend Earlton Gospel Hall.
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Benjamin Widdifield had been commended to the Lord’s work by the Huntsville Gospel Hall. In 1921, he came to the Charlton district, where several of his family lived, with the Gospel. With R. Bruce and D. Miller, he held meetings in homes and schools. Many were saved and baptized, and the Charlton Assembly was formed in 1923. Among those saved and forming the assembly were the families of Stewart Rodgers, Sam Rodgers, Roy Rodgers, and Mr. DeVrice. The group was able to purchase an unused schoolhouse in the fall; it was used for many years. The first Earlton-Charlton Bible Conference was held in 1927.
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Englehart is about 25 miles south of Kirkland Lake and nine miles from both Earlton and Charlton. In 1929, Ben Widdifield and R. Bruce returned to Englehart for a series of Gospel meetings. These men visited all around the countryside on foot or bicycle. When people were saved, these men urged the formation of a new assembly in that area.
Englehart Gospel Hall was formed in 1933, meeting first in the home of Tom Holcroft. Then the Christians moved to the home of Alex Spence, and in 1935 began holding assembly Sunday meetings at the Orange Hall. Some of the Christians who had been traveling to the Earlton or Charlton Assemblies began fellowshipping at Englehart. The Albert Carr family moved to Englehart in 1938 and became stalwarts in the assembly.
Not until 1952 was the Gospel Hall built, and then just a basement, located at the corner of Fifth Street and Sixth Avenue. The upstairs seems to have been built about a year later. The Huntsville Gospel Hall donated 100 chairs. The growing assembly has been very evangelistic, with children’s works and having its own Conferences. Leadership over the years includes Mr. Spence, Mr. Carr, Mr. E. Smart, and Mr. Gordon Wood, among many others. About 50 adults and youngsters attend Englehart Gospel Hall now.
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About 45 miles north of New Liskeard is Matheson. The 4th Avenue Gospel Hall in Matheson was established probably in the 1920s. When the assembly moved to 7th Avenue, they renamed their meeting place 7th Avenue Gospel Chapel. James Johnston, Sam Taylor, and William Green are credited with starting the assembly. John Martin and Sydney Hoffman worked with the Matheson assembly during the summer of 1935, as well as at the nearby Monteith Gospel Hall. From 1932 to 1943, William Murray preached in this area of northern Ontario, and helped build some of the Gospel Halls.
When William Green died in 1948, the Matheson assembly disbanded. Chester and Marion Donaldson moved to the Matheson area in December 1948 and helped re-establish the assembly. A new hall was constructed in 1955. The Matheson Gospel Chapel, located at 294 2nd Street, was built in the 1990s. John and Elza McLaughlin have been mainstays in the Matheson assembly and Clifford Campbell has also been in leadership. Other families in the assembly have been the Harbridges, Childs, Olivers, McMains, and Grants. Matheson Gospel Chapel has commended workers to the field in Guatemala, France, and Ireland. About 60 are in the assembly at present.
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Thirteen miles north of Matheson is Monteith. William Murray had started meetings in the Monteith Community Hall in about 1935. When John Martin and Sydney Hoffman arrived in the area, the Christians put up a log cabin, the Monteith Gospel Hall and first Remembered the Lord there in July of that year. In about 1946, it seems that a new Hall was built through the efforts of the Wesley Clarke, William Murray, and Victor Booth families. In Montrock, a suburb of Iroquois Falls, William Murray also built the Montrock Gospel Hall, now Iroquois Falls Gospel Chapel, with an apartment in the back, where his family lived for about five years. The Herb Peever family was active in that assembly. Here also, Chester and Marion Donaldson labored for a time, as did Arnold Spears from Leaside Bible Chapel in Toronto.
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The assembly now meeting at Kirkland Lake Gospel Hall began in about 1934, deriving from the Charlton Gospel Hall. Brethren from Charlton moved to the Kirkland Lake area in the 1930s to work at the gold mines and established the assembly. The Christians met first in Wilbur Rodger’s home, then in a Union Hall, and in 1950 built their own Hall at 38 Porteous Avenue, where they have continued to meet since. Those involved in the start-up were Wilbur and Margaret Rodgers, Ben Widdifield, Mr. Miller, and Mr. and Mrs. Bert Scott. Ernie Dellandrea was much involved in the construction of the Hall. Elders include Wilbur Rodgers, Tom Clark, Vernon Pratt, Doug Yade, Larry Pratt, and Howard Pratt. The assembly has commended Murray Pratt to full-time service in Northern Ontario and elsewhere. About 60 adults and youngsters attend Kirkland Lake Gospel Hall.
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Chester Donaldson helped establish the Kirkland Lake Gospel Chapel in about 1950. The Whittles, Reeds, and Treens fellowshipped there in its early days. After moving through several meeting places, the Kirkland Lake assembly purchased a building in Chaput Hughes. They remained there until 1987, at which time they purchased a lot in the eastern section of Kirkland Lake and built Kirkland Lake Bible Chapel. Gary and Gloria McBride worked with the assembly for a number of years.
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Timmins, Schumacher, and Porcupine are a trio of towns about 40 miles west of Iroquois Falls. Sam Taylor encouraged Tom and Emily Busby to move to Timmins to start an assembly work. This they did, beginning in the Caddy home in 1925 for Bible studies. Mrs. Belle McCrory and Mrs. Ethel Dunn were charter members of that study. In 1926, the group began Breaking Bread together and in 1927 purchased a lot and constructed Grace Chapel in Timmins with help from individuals and other assemblies. By the mid-1980s, the name had changed to Grace Bible Chapel.
When Mr. Busby died in 1955, Chester Donaldson moved to Timmins to help Grace Chapel, and labored there for seven years. During this period, the Sunday School grew to over a hundred children. Elders at Grace Chapel in those days were Lemuel Carr, Isaac Scott, Albert Montgomery, and George Michell.
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The Donaldsons, with encouragement from many sources, started Northland Bible Camp on Butler Lake during these years. In 1963, they moved to South Porcupine, a neighboring village to Timmins and began an assembly work, called Bible Fellowship Assembly as a hive-off from Grace Chapel in Timmins. The Breaking of Bread was held first in their home. In 1964, they purchased a lot on Huot Street in Timmins; a prefabricated building was used as a chapel until 1974. The Christians then built a larger building on the same lot. In 1990, the assembly purchased a larger lot at 207 Lawrence Street in Timmins and constructed a new chapel for the Bible Fellowship Assembly. Others active in leadership over the years include Leonard Bell, Terry Budd, and Phillip Donaldson. Jointly with other assemblies, Bible Fellowship Assembly has commended workers to the Lord’s service. About 140 persons attend the fellowship today.
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Seventy five miles north of Huntsville is the city of North Bay. In 1912, Mr. and Mrs. John C. Thompson, having been in fellowship in an ‘open’ brethren assembly in England, emigrated from that country to North Bay. Mr. and Mrs. Charles Vrooman came from the Odessa area near Kingston, Ontario at about that time; they seem to have been in an assembly started by the Scots evangelists, or perhaps were associated with a Grant ‘exclusive’ assembly there. Mr. and Mrs. John Poidevin arrived in 1905; Mr. Poidevin was converted under the ministry of evangelist Alexander Marshall. These three families are considered to be the root of what later developed into Bethel Gospel Chapel in North Bay.
Mr. Thompson had started a Sunday School, and in 1922 he built a ‘Clubhouse for Children’ who attended the Sunday School. This property at 333 Fisher Street was listed as a Gospel Hall in 1924. In 1942, the assembly moved to the corner of McIntyre and Fisher Streets, and the assembly was called Bethel Gospel Hall. In 1964, the assembly moved to its present location on O’Brien Street and the name was changed to Bethel Gospel Chapel.
Mr. Thompson was the main leader from the beginning of the assembly until the early 1960s, serving as correspondent and treasurer. In later years, we turned these tasks over to his son Dennis. Sydney Hoffman worked full time at North Bay from approximately 1935 to 1938. He and his wife Florence returned in 1941 and served as resident full-time workers until 1947.
The formal establishment of elder and deacons did not begin until 1969. Since then some of the elders have been Harold Fiss, John Stackhouse, Frank Dellandrea, Walter Hayes, Allan Ure, David Dellandrea, Aubrey Dellandrea, Ted Simms, Val Croswell, Greg Gilbert, Don Carney, Randy Bushey, and Don Bushey.
The assembly was relatively small until about 1960. In 1972, about 100 were in fellowship; in 1992, about 175; and today about 200 in fellowship, with about 85 Sunday School children. Bethel Gospel Chapel has commended workers to France, India, Africa, New Zealand, and to various ministries in Canada and the United States.
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Sudbury is a good-sized city 180 miles east of Sault Ste. Marie and 250 miles north of Toronto. It is the area of a vast ore body of copper and other metals, discovered in the 1880s. In about 1925, Christians began to Remember the Lord in a home in Copper Cliff, adjacent to Sudbury. In 1929, the Orange Hall at Copper Cliff was rented. The original families were the Patricks, Holditchs, and the Princes. The testimony was maintained through the ministry of itinerant workers such as Sam Taylor, Mr. Bailey, and Mr. Hind. In later years, workers such as John Sommacol, John Martin, James Naismith, and many others have ministered at the assembly. Harold Fiss, who spent his early years in the assembly, was one of these.
As people were saved and added to the fellowship, the group constructed in 1935 the Gatchell Gospel Hall in the community of Gatchell adjoining Sudbury, on land donated by the Holditch family. This was a frame building, 40 feet by 21 feet. Eighteen families were in the assembly then. The work grew, and in 1950 a larger brick building was erected on the same property. Two hundred were in fellowship by the 1950s.
In 1976, the assembly moved to another area, into the Agincourt Public School, because street parking had become nearly impossible where they were. They took the name Sudbury Bible Fellowship at about that time. In 1983, they purchased a lot in this area and constructed a chapel at 1661 Lansing Avenue, largely with volunteer labor. Though numbers are smaller now, with about 75 considered to be in fellowship, the assembly is active with vacation Bible schools, meetings weekly in three retirement homes, and tract distribution. Robert Bibby has been a leading brother in the assembly for many years. Sudbury Bible Fellowship has commended workers to Newfoundland and to local ministry.
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The city of Elliot Lake lies about halfway between Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury and is an area of several former uranium mines. The assembly at Elliot Lake Bible Chapel started in about 1957 as the result of a Sunday School run by Mrs. Jean Hellberg and assisted by Mrs. Evelyn Miller. Mr. and Mrs. Robert McLaren Sr. were early workers in the assembly, as were Gaston and Margo Jolin. Others who have worked in the assembly were Bob and Helen McLaren, Murdy Getty, and Alex MacDonald and his family.
The meetings for several years were held in the Moose Lodge, Collins Hall, and the local High School, as well as in several homes. The assembly now has its own chapel on Mississauga Avenue. Elders have been Basil Pearse, Adrien Piche, Charlie Collins, John Rowe, Ken Stainthorpe, and Douglas Price, who works full-time in the assembly and along the North Shore district. The closing of all thirteen uranium mines has caused many assembly families to move away, and Elliot Lake Bible Chapel now has about 60 people. The elders permit a few organizations to use the building as a bridge into the community. In recent years, several thousand seniors have moved to Elliot Lake and a few have found their way to the Chapel.
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About 30 miles south of Elliot Lake is the North Channel, a body of water separated from Lake Huron by the large Manitoulin Island. Gore Bay is a town on the north side of the island, to which Robert Booth and Robert McClurkin came in 1948 for Gospel work, at which time a number were saved. A year later, they returned, taught the believers, and formed an assembly and built the Gore Bay Gospel Hall, which still continues. About 30 believers met there in the 1950s. The Gore Bay assembly built another hall at Providence Bay on the south side of the island in 1955. Messrs. Booth, McClurkin, and Wilson were involved in the start of this assembly, which has since disbanded.
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Manitowaning is toward the east side of Manitoulin Island. To that area, Christopher and Veronica Cawte and their family moved in 1990, having been associated with an ‘exclusive’ assembly in Gravenhurst, Ontario. They began attending the Gore Bay Gospel Hall, and Christopher Cawte became an elder at Gore Bay in 1994. Other families who moved into the area were Alvin and Jackie Cook and John and Kelly Tucsok.
In September 1994, children’s meetings were begun in the Clover Valley Schoolhouse, and continued at the Assiginack Public School in Manitowaning when the weather turned cold. Gospel meetings then began in the Tucsok home. Several persons were saved and joined with the group. In the summer of 1995, yearly tent meetings were initiated, with Alvin Cook preaching and different men assisting. Others were saved in these meetings.
In October 1996, the group had its first meeting to Remember the Lord in the old Clover Valley Schoolhouse, and thus the Clover Valley assembly was formed. The assembly began with 13 in fellowship and 18 children. The building, now called Clover Valley Gospel Hall, is primitive but a place where warmth and love have shown forth. Property has been purchased on the Cawte farm, and a new building is planned.
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The Wellington Ross family of Toronto and the George Lewis family of Petrolia came to Sault Ste. Marie during the fall of 1899. Mr. Lewis met a few like-minded local Christians, and together they decided to meet together as a New Testament church. And so, in January 1900, eleven believers formed an assembly, which met in the Ross home.
During 1901, the evangelists J.C. Beattie and R. Duncan pitched a tent at the corner of Pilgrim and Queen streets for a series of Gospel meetings, and the assembly saw the first fruits of its work in the salvation of Ada Armstrong and Archie West. Eventually, most of the extended West family knew God’s salvation and became stalwarts in the assembly.
By 1904, Mr. Ross had died, and Mr. Lewis had to move away when a local company ceased operation. The assembly carried on and by 1910, was large enough to consider erecting its own building on Murray Street in Sault Ste. Marie, which they called the Murray Street Gospel Hall. When the street was renamed later, the Christians changed the name of the Hall to Albert Street Gospel Hall. Early leading families included James and Jane Clark, and R.H. and Mabel Davis.
Leonard Sheldrake and Fred Mehl often came and drew crowds to the Hall by singing Gospel songs from the front porch. George Shivas, in fellowship in the assembly, often traveled down to Michigan to carry the gospel. Robert Telfer and R. McClintock came in 1917 for a two-week series of meetings, and William Ferguson and Ed Steen came in 1920 for another series.
Many Italian immigrants worked in the area. One of them, Peter Chiarello, was saved in about 1925 by the witness of a Mr. Parks of the assembly. The testimony of these two resulted in the influx of a sizeable number of the Italians into Albert Street Gospel Hall. Cesare Patrizio was the first Italian commended worker to come to the Sault, and in 1928 he conducted a series of Gospel meetings in Italian, at which a number of Italian folks were saved. The last series of Gospel meetings in the Italian language was in the 1950s, conducted by Frank Pizulli.
Open air meetings were commonly held in all the surrounding communities during the twenties and thirties, at which preachers such as John Sylvester, A.R. Crocker, Albert Joyce, William Warke, James Key, T. Dobbin, and John Govan participated, in addition to those already mentioned. In the forties, the assembly grew in spite of the worldwide war raging, and Conferences were held by the assembly.
In 1947, the assembly moved into a new hall at the corner of Spring and Wellington Streets in Sault Ste. Marie, and from that time has been referred to as the Spring Street Gospel Hall.
The 1950s are noted for the large number of souls saved and added to the assembly. The Franklin Street Hall was erected in 1954 as an outreach to Italian families in the area. It was later converted to a residential dwelling. In 1966, the Spring Street meeting held its 50th Conference. In 1975, the Sunday School work required the purchase of two buses for transportation. The assembly continues today with Conferences and special series of meetings with traveling preachers. In addition to the founding fathers of the assembly, R.H. Davis, James Clark Sr., Peter Chiarello, A. Hastings, and R.A. Clark have been among those in leadership over the years.
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Thessalon is a town east of Sault Ste. Marie. The assembly now meeting at Thessalon Bible Chapel was started prior to 1950 with help from assembly Christians from Sault Ste. Marie. Lucy and Allan McDougal, the Alton family, Mr. and Mrs. Overman and her parents, and Willie McLellan were involved in establishing the assembly, and built a chapel from cement blocks, working long hours. Those in leadership after the earliest years include Harold Wagler and Robert McLaren. For 50 years, the assembly had an active Thursday night Sunshine Hour, attended by 50 to 75 children; Lucy McDougal was actively involved in that ministry for many years, and many children came to know the Lord. The assembly is building a new chapel, scheduled for completion in the year 2000.
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The Spring Street Gospel Hall in Sault Ste. Marie had conducted children’s meetings in Bruce Mines for some years, and these had been well received in that town. A number of the Christians from Bruce Mines attended the assembly at Thessalon, a few miles away.
In the early 1970s, the Legion Hall in Bruce Mines, which had been a Baptist facility formerly, came up for sale. It was purchased and the assembly Christians developed a Sunday afternoon Sunday School in it, calling it the Bruce Mines Bible Centre. At about the same time, the Gospel Hall was no longer able to continue the children’s meetings in Bruce Mines, and that work was turned over to the Bible Centre. When other brethren moved into the area, the Christians expanded the work into a full New Testament assembly. A group of about a dozen Christians commenced Remembering the Lord early in the 1970s.
While the Bruce Mines assembly has never been a strong work numerically due to lack of employment in the town, a number have been saved over the years, and the Annual Day Camp has reached the majority of the children in the town.
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Riverside Bible Chapel at 153 Hugill Street in Sault Ste. Marie was established in 1983 through the efforts of the families of Don Robert, Len Lane, Patrick Cormier, John McLennan, Douglas Rankin, and Robert Ackert. A hive-off of Bethel Bible Chapel in Sault Ste. Marie, it met first at the Grandview Public School and moved to its present location in 1986. In 1996, the assembly had about 50 adults in fellowship and 40 in its Sunday Schools. Jack and Mae Correll have been commended to work in Riverside Bible Chapel as well as in other Northern Ontario assemblies. Riverside has also commended others to youth and summer camp work, and to service with International Teams in Romania and in Toronto, and with Venture Teams International.
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Queen Street Bible Chapel in Sault Ste. Marie began with an exercise to start a fresh work in the city. Peter Aceti, Joe Reese, and Joe Kargiannakis, along with their families and extended families began to meet together in December 1993. These families originally were in fellowship in Bethel Bible Chapel in Sault Ste. Marie.
This group received the support of the elders of Bethel Bible Chapel, as well as the elders from the other assemblies of the city. In June 1994, twenty two believers formed the original fellowship of Queen Street Bible Chapel. The meeting is in a store front location at 762 Queen Street, which has been made available by the kindness of the owner of the building, a fellow believer. Currently there are 38 families in the fellowship. Among other services, the assembly has a monthly Search the Scripture Bible Study in which they invite brethren from the U.S., Canada, and abroad to teach and exhort. Peter Aceti and Joe Reese are the elders.
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A hive-off from Northland Bible Chapel resulted in the formation of Heyden Bible Chapel in Sault Ste. Marie under the leadership of Dieter Fischer.
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Northland Bible Chapel in Goulais River near Sault Ste. Marie began in a farmhouse in 1968 as part of an outreach of Northland Bible College. The staff of the college, particularly A.V. Clark and his wife Lila, and Mr. and Mrs. Norvin Jones, began a Sunday School work and then instituted Breaking of Bread. Leaders of the assembly have included A.V. Clock, Stephen Clock, Dan Bernard, and John LaCrosse. Northland Bible Chapel has always been located at Mountain View Farm, Goulais River, first in the farmhouse, then at a chapel building. Northland has commended missionaries to work among the Sikhs in British Columbia, and with New Tribes Missions in Papua New Guinea.
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Richards Landing is on St. Joseph Island, southeast of Sault Ste. Marie. Island Bible Chapel started there in 1974 in the home of George and Jan Yule. The Yules had moved to the Island and began friendship evangelism. Jim and Maureen Tulloch later commenced Bible teaching, and this led to the formation of the assembly. The assembly soon moved to the St. Joseph Island Central School gymnasium, but in 1978 built a chapel with financial aid from a person from the Gore Bay Gospel Hall. Bethel Bible Chapel in Sault Ste. Marie helped to finance an addition in the 1990s.
Elders have been Jim Tulloch, Ted Windle, Bruce Cain, Paul Rowe, Ken Golder, Stephen Tulloch and Grant Kahtava. Stephen Tulloch has been commended to the local ministry. In leadership in women’s ministries have been Maureen Tulloch, Jan Yule, Dawn Rowe, Mona Cain, Lois Lambert, and others. Typical attendance at Island Bible Chapel on a Sunday is about 125.
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Farther west lies the city of Thunder Bay on the north shore of Lake Superior, an amalgamation in the 1970s of the towns of Fort William and Port Arthur. The assembly now meeting at Pine Street Gospel Hall in Thunder Bay commenced in a home in Port Arthur in April 1912. It was called the Gospel Hall Assembly then and may have come out of an ‘exclusive’ assembly that existed in 1909. The assembly moved to a room above a store in downtown Port Arthur later, and then to its present location in 1926. W.J. Chawner was the special speaker at the opening of the new hall in August 1926.
The principal people involved in getting the Gospel Hall Assembly started were Henderson Brown, Archibald Baxter, H. McLements, Margaret Colquhoun, and Mr. and Mrs. William McDowell. Elders leading the assembly over the years have been William McDowell, Leonard Coldridge, Richard Weston, Joseph Pickering, Brian Weston, Gordon Wilson, Kenneth Pickering, and Matthew Frank. About 40 adults and 50 youngsters presently attend the assembly.
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In the mid-1950s, Fred and Betty Jones from Calgary, and Barry and Kay Wagar from Peterborough, moved to the Port Arthur/Fort William area and fellowshipped at Pine Street Gospel Hall. These two couples then began to meet for Breaking of Bread at the Wagar’s home in Slate River. During this time, they were joined by Dawson and Margaret Allan.
The Wagars worked with the young people in their area, and the Jones’ began having children’s meetings in their home. The work grew and a building seating about 100 was purchased in the south side area called Westmount. The believers named their building Westmount Gospel Chapel, with an official dedication in October 1959. The young work was greatly aided by the work of James Boswell, an evangelist from London, Ontario.
By the 1980s, the assembly had outgrown its quarters and decided to hive-off a new work in the north end, in old Port Arthur. That move was spearheaded by Arnot Hawkins and Herman Dost, elders at Westmount. A church building was located at 246 Farrand Street, and the new assembly occupied Farrand Street Bible Chapel in 1986. Other leaders at Farrand Street are or have been Rod Muir, Joe Vieira, Bill Pendergrast, Brian Phillips, Malcolm Postings, Trevor Lewis, and Larry McFarling. Apart from Messrs. Hawkins and Dost, these men had not come from brethren backgrounds. About 75 adults and children attend Farrand Street Bible Chapel, which has jointly commended several people to the Lord’s work in Austria and within Canada.
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East of Kenora, which is close to the border of Manitoba, is the small town of Sioux Lookout. To that village came Henry Southall in the 1920s. He and his wife came from Manitoba where they had been affiliated with some assemblies. Finding no testimony in their new surroundings, and concerned about the spiritual needs of his neighbors, Mr. Southall began open-air preaching and cottage meetings. Soon a building was needed and in about 1927 a small Sioux Lookout Gospel Hall was constructed on the corner of Mr. Southall’s lot. The common problem of few employment opportunities in the area reduced the number in fellowship to about 15 in the mid-1950s. Chester Donaldson from Matheson, hundreds of miles away, would come about once a year to preach and help, but few other brethren preachers visited the area. The assembly continued to about 1960.
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To Kenora came John Dalzel and William Howard in about 1890, both of whom had brethren backgrounds in Scotland. They jointly decided to establish an assembly in the town. Always called the Kenora Gospel Hall, the assembly met first in the Dalzel home. After that they met for a time in a store front, and then in a series of other homes. In the early years, a number of the Christians lived in Keewatin, three miles from Kenora, and walked to the meetings along a railroad track in the winter and came by boat in the summer. In 1947 the present hall was constructed and occupied at the corner of 1st Street and 7th Avenue in Kenora.
In leadership over the years have been John Dalzel, William Howard, J. Adams, J. Gould, R.J. McCammon, E.L. McCammon, C.F. Sawatsky, E.E. Gould, W. Yocum, A.E. Clark, J.F. Gould, and G. McChesney. Kenora Gospel Hall has commended workers to Zambia and St. Lucia. Emily Gould married Albert Joyce in 1952, and they have been commended to the work in Labrador and Newfoundland. The assembly has been active in Gospel outreach through the years, holding meetings in outlying areas. The town has been covered many times with tracts. About 15 adults and children attend the assembly now.
- Questionnaire responses and other correspondence
- The 75th Anniversary of The Windsor Assembly, 1916 to 1991
- Excerpts from a History of the Brethren Movement, by Norman E. Crawford
- Sketch of the History of Bethel Gospel Chapel North Bay, Ontario, 1997; based on book to be published in 1999: When Your Children Ask, by Donald E. Carney
- The History of the Barrie Ontario Assemblies, by H. Bruce Hicks
- Brief History of Early Assembly Work in North America, by Norman Crawford, 1999
- Until He Comes, A History of the Spring St. Assembly, in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, 1899-1997, by Wayne and Heather Rodgers
- History of the Lansing Assembly, by Hubert Lucas, Sr., 1973
- Reflections of Turner Road Chapel, 1930-1990
- In His Name, by John S. Robertson, March 1960 (a history of Toronto Assemblies)
- A Kernel of Wheat, by Chester Donaldson, 1982, updated 1994
- A Grain of Mustard Seed, The Story of Bible Fellowship Assembly, by Chester Donaldson,1983
- Deer Lake Gospel Hall, by Bert French, 1997
- The Growth of God’s Assembly, Planted in Welland, by Lorne Yade, 1985
- Saved to Serve, by John M. Martin, Gospel Folio Press, Grand Rapids, MI 1994
- Wallenstein Bible Chapel, The first thirty years, 1968-1998, by Albert Martin, 1998
- Englehart, 1933-1993, 60 Years of Memories of an Assembly and its People, by P. Wood, 1993
- History of Christians Gathered Unto the name of the Lord Jesus Christ at Strongville, Ontario, by Mrs. William Williams and others, 1990.
- A Record of Gospel Testimony in Northern Ontario, by Bethuel Carr, 1979
- Graphite Bible Chapel, by Doug Robinson, undated
- Waverley Gospel Hall, undated
- Let the Tide Come In, by C. Ernest Tatham, 1976
- Shoreacres Bible Chapel, 1959 - 1994, 35th Anniversary Reunion
- When Your Children Ask, a History of Bethel Gospel Chapel North, Ontario, by Donald E. Carney, 1999; published by Donald E. Carney
- The Brethren Movement in North Hastings 1885 - 1924 (A Thesis Presented to the Faculty of the Department of Historical Theology, Dallas Theological Seminary), by Robert Garry Jenkins, May 1986.
- History of Bancroft Area Assemblies, Garry Jenkins, unpublished, 1986.
- Letters of Interest, August/September 1955, p. 14; October 1955, p. 15; January 1959, p. 7; *December 1966, p. 8; June 1969, p. 14; September 1975, p. 20