Rosemount Bible Church, Montreal, QC
Several families from the downtown Montreal Brethren assembly on St. Antoine Street had moved to the growing northeast suburb of Rosemount. They were among the many English drawn by ready employment in the local railway and shipyards. In those days it was a long way for these Christians to travel to the meeting place downtown, and, they began to see their own community as a mission field for the gospel of Jesus Christ. After prayerful consideration of the opportunity and, with the wholehearted support of their home assembly, they began to make plans.
A vacant lot was chosen on the East Side of Fourth Avenue halfway between Holt and Dandurand. The owner of the land was approached and he readily granted them its temporary use. On a summer day in July 1929 they pitched a tent on the property, purposing to fill it with the many children who played on the avenues of Rosemount. Caring for children would remain a priority throughout the history of the Rosemount congregation.
Several people were converted and baptized during these summer meetings and the believers were encouraged to launch a new assembly in Rosemount that fall. On Sunday morning, September 8, 1929, they met in rented quarters at the corner of Holt and Eleventh Avenue where they celebrated the Lord’s Supper and conducted Sunday School for the first time. Altogether 25 adults and their children had hived off from the St. Antoine meeting to form the new congregation.
The full effects of the Depression that followed almost immediately were not at first felt by Ebenezer, and the enthusiasm of those first summer meetings carried over into the fall and winter months. Through a series of activities including children’s meetings, tract distribution, door-to-door visitation, open-air street preaching, and personal evangelism, the assembly outgrew its initial premises by the spring of 1930. About 30 adults were breaking bread and over 100 children were gathering weekly when the decision was made to search for new quarters.
A new meeting place for Ebenezer was found after reading an announcement in the Gazette. A Canadian financial institution was wrongfully using rented premises on the southeast corner of Rosemount Boulevard and 6th Avenue as a bank. The owner of the building won his case in court, the facility became available, and the assembly began its 23-year residence there at the princely rent of $18 per month. The landlord and his wife, who lived upstairs above the meeting hall, subsequently became believers and met with the local French Brethren assembly.
Street preaching in the 1930’s was conducted on the southeast corner of 9th Avenue and Masson. These meetings were well attended because the stores were open until at least 11:30 p.m. on Saturday evenings. About 9:30 p.m. the grocers and meat dealers would start reducing the prices so that they would not be left with a lot of produce over the weekend. This attracted large crowds of people.
In the late 1940’s the assembly was poised for an important move. It had outgrown its premises on 6th Avenue and a good number of young couples had begun to attend the meeting. The Lites, Robert and Fanny Skelcher and many others had brought their energy and vision into the fellowship. Jack Dawson and Harold Naylor were active in the leadership of Montreal Youth for Christ and through their contacts along with that of others, new believers such as Cedric Potter and Fred Parnell had committed themselves to the Lord’s work at Ebenezer. Two lots on 13th Avenue at $1000 each were secured from the city of Montreal, and a groundbreaking service for the new building was conducted in the spring of 1953. It was now to be called Ebenezer Gospel Chapel.
The 1950’s were a time of significant growth of the Rosemount and surrounding districts as the parents of the baby boomers set up their homes. Five neighborhood English Protestant schools were soon filled to overflowing. Many more people began to attend the Chapel and it was in these years that several families from Ebenezer joined others from Cote St. Luc Bible Chapel to begin a new Brethren assembly in the West Island, known as Bethel Chapel in Pointe Claire.
Frontier Lodge leaned heavily on Ebenezer for its staff including many camp directors such as the Whitelaws, the Bresnens, Heinz Archipow, Peter Daley, the Dawsons and the Joel Coppieters. At the same time, the assembly maintained a strong missionary emphasis, sponsoring many young people to the World Missions’ Congresses in Chicago and, in the 1970’s alone, commissioning 25 missionaries to short- and long-term service at home and overseas.
The spiritual momentum of the 1970’s resulted in the vision of a special center for teenagers at the Chapel. This led in 1981 to the renovation of the unfinished basement below the Christian education wing into The Open Door Coffee House, later named the Fellowship Hall, a Friday night musical outreach ministry that served our youth and their friends for several years.
The political and cultural realities of a French Quebec had gathered a momentum of its own in the 1970’s and the fallout affected all English churches in Montreal. The longstanding trickle of Anglophones out of the province became in the new Quebec a steady stream, even a torrent of young, educated people coursing mostly westward to more comfortable political and social climates. Furthermore, for many years Rosemount and the whole East End had been witnessing the shift of their English populations, if not out of the province, then to the West Island or to other more English areas in the Montreal community. Many capable young men and women moved away at a time when they would normally be assuming important leadership roles at Ebenezer. Yet God was faithful, raising up others to step into various ministries and teaching the existing leadership to respond creatively to these changes.
The 1980’s saw another dozen Ebenezer members join the missionary ranks. Camp involvement extended from Frontier Lodge to Parkside Ranch, both in the Eastern Townships, where many young people were won for Christ, and new opportunities for evangelism in the Montreal area opened up. In the closing years of the 80’s a new generation of committed young couples and families emerged at Ebenezer. Young men and women chose discipleship opportunities, and the leadership began to prepare them for greater responsibility in the church.
On its 60th anniversary, Rosemount Bible Church freshly committed herself once again to creatively apply Biblical solutions to each new challenge, to look to God for His continued help in extending His kingdom, and to trust in Him to keep her faithful, a commitment that continues to the present time, now over 30 years later.
RBC has met in its current building since 1954. Having upgraded its facilities in 1965, 1980 and 1989, major renovations were undertaken and completed in 2014.
- Ebenezer Gospel Hall (OB) 1928-1953
- Ebenezer Gospel Chapel (OB) 1953-1989
- E. 4th (between Holt & Dandurand) tent meetings July-Aug 1929
- Holt & 11th 1929-1930
- 2900 Rosemount Blvd. (6e & Rosemount) 1930-1953
- 6000 13th Ave. 1953-2020+
- George Henry Dixon +1936+, 1955+
- John Dawson +1943-1954
- J.W. Whitelaw 1956-1958
- J.C. Whitelaw @ Rosemount 1959-1971; @ Ville D'Anjou 1973-1979
- Rodrique Mathieu @ Rosemount 1972
- Murray Down @ Mont St. Hilair 1980-1987+
- M.J. Dawson +1989-2000+
- Dr. David Dawson @ Mount Royal +2003-2020+
- Faithful Words Publishing, St. Louis, Missouri Assembly Address Book: 1927
- Pickering & Inglis Directory of Some Assemblies in the British Isles: 1933
- Light & Liberty Publishing Assembly Address Book: 1936
- Walterick Publishers Assembly Address Books: 1943, 1948, 1950, 1954-1956, 1958-1980, 1982-1983, 1985-1987, 1989-2000, 2003-2004, 2006-2008
- ECS Ministries (Emmaus International) Assembly Address Books: 2009-2010, 2013-2014, 2016, 2018, 2020