BRITANNIA UNITED CHURCH
125 YEARS OF HISTORY & MEMORIES
We invite you to read and to enjoy these reflections and recollections of our past, here at Britannia United Church. We hope that they will stir in you some of your memories of this congregation or other congregations where you have belonged. This is a history just begun. If you have a piece of the story to recount, we invite you to send it along so that your thread of memory will be added to the weaving of our historical tapestry as we gather and piece together our memories and hopes in this anniversary year.
In the remembering and sharing of our stories we will keep finding how God’s story has touched our lives, in all of the ups and downs, with grace and love… (and) we will lift our voices together in praise and thanksgiving because we will continue our ministry in this time and this place with all of the saints of the past and the assurances of that great hymn with which we will close our anniversary service of worship:
‘Your hand, 0 God, has guided your flock from age to age:
the wondrous tale is written, full clear, on every page.
Our forebears owned your goodness, and we their deeds record,
And both to this bear witness: one church, one faith, one Lord.
- Britannia United Church in the Late 1920’S and 1930’S By Lois Jamieson Fletcher
- From ‘Reflections’; – By May Jones
- Jobs in Britannia United Church – By D.L. May Jones
- Social Action History – By Lois Lasalle
- Historical Note : ‘ROSES ON THE ALTAR’ – By Lois Lasalle
- The Britannia Chancel Players – By Jean Shaw
- Britannia United Church History; My Thoughts – By Elizabeth Eyamie
- Excerpts from an article in the Westboro Village Voice, June 1976
- Music and the Church – By Wally Packman
- History Notes – By Cy Marchant
- A Picnic in the Park – By Thelma Hodgins of your Anniversary Committee
- A Tradition is Reborn
- Remembering Programs of the Britannia Adult Group – By Audrey Marchant
- The Sanctuary Ownership Fund
- How to Choose a Church – By Audrey Marchant
- History of Britannia United Church – Taken From 120th Anniversary Photo Directory 1993
- Ministry at West End Villa – By Lilian Anderson
- Ministers from 1869-1998
- Young Peoples Association – By Ed Hare
- The 9 O’Clock Service – By Heather Thuswaldner
- Birthday Cards – By H. Sloan
- Memories of Britannia – By The Livingstone Family
- History Memories – By Lois Lasalle
- Memories of Britannia – By Barry Thomas, Minister from 1974 to 1980
- Frank McCowan Family at Britannia By Betty McGowan
- Britannia Decided to Sponsor Two Vietnamese Families
- Memories of Britannia United Church – Anonymous
- Family Clusters at Britannia From B.U.C Records
- The Dorcas Unit – From Stewardship Material In 1982
- Memories of Britannia – By Bob Root
- Memories from Long Ago – By Lloyd Lillico
- Greetings from Edith & Bruce Parker of Belleville, Ontario
- Fond Memories Sept. 1971 – From Carol & Bruce Kirkpatrick
- Story of the Fairholm Family – By Eileen Fairholm
- Memories of Britannia – By Donna Fairholm
- Sunday School Memories – By Norm Lillico
- Remembering Britannia United Church – By Virginia Notley (nee: Wilson)
The years of the Great Depression affected those living in Britannia as elsewhere. No one was immune from the serious economic conditions. Men lost their jobs, some had salaries cut, others lost their savings in the stock market crash. Everyone worried about supporting their families and wondered how long it would be before conditions improved. The farmers in the area were more fortunate than others in matters of fruit, vegetables and beef, but some lost their farms and homes because they could not make mortgage payments or pay the rent.
The level of education of most men in Britannia was low and many had not attended High School. Only the clergy and one or two other men had university education: versatility or willingness existed. Several men living in Britannia at that time worked in the Federal Government or as store clerks. Each day they travelled back and forth to Ottawa by electric streetcars. At the time it cost 2½ cents for a ticket to McKellar, another 2½ cents to Holland Ave. and a further 5 cents for each ticket into the City of Ottawa. For those living in Britannia Heights (above the Richmond Road and Carling Ave.) and in the Village of Britannia on the Bay it was a long walk in the heat of summer or the cold and snow of winter. There was a small brick heated shelter for those in Britannia on the Bay but no protection for those coming down through McGee’s farm. There was a streetcar terminal at the Park, but no closed cover for those waiting for the streetcar. There was a 20 minute service at peak hours, less frequent service at
Wages were low, unmarried women working as store clerks or in offices earned $10-$15 per week. If a girl married, she had to forfeit her job. People were proud and independent; few if any received welfare payments. When one lost one’s job he moved in with relatives. Most residents of Britannia at that time were of British descent, there were no Orientals, Indians, Blacks or Jews, It was essentially a white Anglo-Saxon community with no recreational centre, nor were there any doctors, dentists or health clinics, no shopping malls or TV., few radios or theatres etc.
In those days the homes were heated by wood stoves or coal furnaces; both required constant attendance during the long winter months. Few had phones. The roads were not kept in good condition; they were almost impassable after heavy winter storms. Ruts were made after a snowfall by the milkman, grocery man, baker or iceman as they made deliveries to each home. Few Britannia residents owned motorcars. The hill on Britannia Road (main street) by the Britannia United Church was very steep and quite often the motorcars were unable to climb the hill in one attempt. If the car stalled or was about to stall midway up the hill, one of the passengers would have to jump out and put large stones or branches behind the tires to prevent the car from rolling backwards down the hill. Few drove cars in the winter months, as they lacked block heaters, regular heaters and defrosters. Small candies were placed sometimes near the windshields in order to melt the frost and give a peek-hole, but this was a hazardous procedure, even though there were very few cars on the road. The ruts made the cars lurch around. Car batteries were often taken indoors in the winter and used to give power for radios.
Most residents of Britannia-on-the-Bay (Britannia Village) and Britannia Heights made church attendance an integral part of Sunday mornings. It was a place where one could socialize with neighbours as well as worship. There were three churches at that time (1920-40). The Anglican Church was located in Britannia Village on Main Street now Britannia Road. The Roman Catholic Church was about one block farther north at Britannia Road and Jamieson St. in a field backing onto the woods. In summer it was filled to over-capacity with summer residents on bright warm sunny Sundays. Most of the congregation had summer cottages by the water so the church was closed in winter, as few Catholics were permanent village residents. The United Church, a small wooden building was located at the junction of Carling Ave. and Britannia Road.
It was an accepted fact that everyone enjoyed recreation and socialization. People found ways to enjoy themselves in the Depression in an economical way. During the summer of the 1930’s the Village of Britannia was a busy place. There was swimming and sunbathing at the end of the Britannia Pier, dancing at Lakeside Gardens (50 cents per couple, 10 cents for a hot dog and 10 cents for a bottle of coke), three tennis clubs – one at Harmer’s in Britannia Heights (now the location of the Musgrove Apartments) one at Britannia Park and one at the Britannia Yacht Club. The courts were usually filled with young people. Many people in the Village owned canoes, rowboats and sailboats. During the summer months there were corn and marshmallow roasts along the shores of Lake Deschenes.
Britannia Village was a popular summer resort in those days. There were many cottages which could be rented in the summer season between May 1st and
September 30th for as little as one hundred to one hundred and fifty dollars. Apartments in the Old and New Mill rented for as little as sixty to eighty dollars for the season.
The religious activities of the Britannia United Church generally were limited to Sunday worship during the 1920’s and 30’s. This was due to the fact that the church was heated only on Sundays or for some special event such as a musical concert or a funeral. Money was scarce and it was decided not to waste it by heating a building that was not used on a daily basis. Money was not available for janitor services. The building was heated by a wooden stove which needed constant attention. There was no running water or bathroom within the church because the building was unheated during the cold winter months and the water pipes would freeze. A small outhouse was located near the drive-in shed. Farmers or others who came to church by buggy or sleigh sheltered their horses in the drive-in shed.
In spite of many physical difficulties, social gatherings were common. The Ladies Aid Society prepared delicious hot turkey dinners to celebrate annual church anniversaries. The small kitchen would be over crowded with cooks, helpers and dishwashers. There would be several ‘sittings’ for the dinners. People would wait upstairs in the sanctuary with a numbered ticket, awaiting their turn to come downstairs to the basement banquet hall. The long tables were set up and laden with food. Sometimes four or five hundred people would attend their banquets.
The Ladies Aid Society also sponsored spring and fall teas, bazaars and strawberry festivals, replicas of church socials in England and Scotland, complete with food, candies, baking goods, fish ponds and fortune tellers. At that time most people travelled by foot to these events and returned home tired and weary. There was no problem about finding a parking space for your car.
Sometimes entertainers would come from Ottawa to give, the Britannia Community a taste of a professional piano concert on a Friday evening or perhaps a group would come to present a play. The Sunday school teachers were responsible for Christmas concerts within the church congregation. It was a good time with friends and neighbours giving recitations or singing carols. Sometimes a Sunday school class would present a skit or a little play. The concerts were always well attended and Santa Claus was there at Christmas time to give the Sunday school teachers a token of
appreciation. In addition there was always a bag of candies, nuts and an orange for each of the children.
There were approximately twenty to thirty teenagers in Britannia during the 1920’s and 30’s. In the summer they enjoyed the outdoor sports of swimming and tennis: in the winter there were cross-country skiing, sleigh riding and dancing. Often there were bean suppers after a sleigh ride at the home of a farmer or at Winthrop’s Forge. It cost 25 cents for both the sleigh ride and supper. The Tuxis Boys and Canadian Girls in Training were part of this group.
Because most of the teenagers were members of The Britannia United Church and as the church was centrally located for both the residents of Britannia Heights and Britannia Village, it evolved into a Community Centre. After the Church Services on Sundays, groups -met informally to plan and discuss activities of the week. All of the teenage girls belonged to the Canadian Girls in Training (C.G.I.T.). In addition the group included girls from other Protestant denominations and from the Roman Catholic Church. There were so few of them that there were no special activities for Anglicans, Presbyterians or Roman Catholics in Britannia.
Most of the C.G.I.T. meetings were held in the homes of the leaders e.g. Mrs. B.J. Roberts and Mrs. Cedric Goddard or in the homes of members living in large houses (Viens’ and Jamiesons’). In addition to the weekly meetings of worship and recreation, the Britannia United C.G.I.T. Group often was invited to attend special services in other United Churches in the City of Ottawa. Members from Britannia were often given executive positions with the Central Group of Ottawa C.G.I.T. Girls Work Committees.
In summer time the group enjoyed outings along the shores of Lake Deschenes and long hikes in the country. There were weekends and days spent at Arkell’s cottage at Baskin Beach. Many of the C.G.I.T. group members attended C.G.I.T. Camps. Fees were around $15-$20 for a two week period at Beau Rivage Camp which was a beautiful island in the St. Lawrence River near Gananoque. Some attended Camp Normandy on Lake Erie. Here they met and exchanged ideas with other girls of the same age and religious denomination. The girls always came home with wonderful memories of camp and spiritual ‘fulfillment. They were supervised by well-educated, spiritual leaders who became role models for many of the girls. Many of these leaders were university students from Victoria College at the University of Toronto. They were pioneers in opening a vista of opportunity for young girls. Because of her influence two Britannia United Church girls went on to become nurses, one worked for many years with the United Nations in Europe, another became a social scientist, while others were teachers, Federal Government employees or clerks. Girls were limited in their choice of employment at that time. Most moved away after their education was completed.
Beyond the teenage years many joined the Young Peoples Group and continued to be busy with church activities. Those who remained in Britannia have maintained their interest and membership in the Britannia United Church and have contributed in many ways as Sunday School teachers, choir members and administrators. The children’s’ parents have also contributed to the life of the Church.
In 1946, I was reluctant to come to Britannia, but my husband Dick had bought a lot on Pinecrest Rd. from Mr. Viens and had built a garage as a temporary residence while he built our home. We sold our bungalow and all our furnishings were moved to the garage at Britannia.
We had company (the Packmans) the first evening, and Dick offered them a glass of pure water from our own well. You can imagine me in the garage looking in boxes for glasses. I only found one and washed it between each sampling.
After the garage was nominally straight, I had quite a bit of company from the area. I guess nobody had lived in a garage while their house was being built – not in Britannia Heights anyway! We were members of Dominion United Church in Ottawa where Dick was Assistant Sunday School Superintendent. Shirley Anne (6) and Richard (4) went to Sunday school there. Dominion also had a Couples’ Club which Dick had joined while he looked for a house in Ottawa. After we moved to Britannia we went downtown a few times (by streetcar) but eventually joined Britannia United and Dick became a member of Session.
The first event I remember at Britannia was a W.M.S. Baby Band tea. A dedicated visitor invited us to the annual tea and entertainment. It was a festive occasion and I thought Britannia was a very friendly place.
We went to an Annual Meeting, and there was a great to do! There was $700 in a Building Fund, and some wanted to keep it and some wanted to put it towards a building lot (in those days it was enough to buy a good lot). We kept the money. I didn’t go to another Annual Meeting for some years.
Shirley Anne, Richard and then Pat went to Sunday school. Gordie Hodgins was the young, energetic Superintendent, and a good one. We went to the little white church on Richmond Road opposite the Old Forge. Mr Winthrop let our men bring water over to the church for drinking and washing dishes. In the winter the ladies melted snow to do dishes. Drainage was piped from a sink, but we couldn’t get a water or building permit because the lot wasn’t large enough. We managed, and many hot dinners were served in the basement. The building was heated by a ‘pipeless furnace’ and woe betide anyone standing at the front of the church who dropped anything down the grate of the furnace pipe. An electric organ had been bought as a memorial to our boys listed on the plaque.
Mrs. Joan Kidd one Sunday came to Britannia United Church (with Tony in tow) looking for the nursery. On her second Sunday she met Chloris Brown and found herself in charge of the nursery at the little white church. Sunday School grew and moved for two years to the Grant School.
During this period Mrs. LaSalle and Mrs. Kidd took training and with W.A. sponsorship, took charge of our first Daily Vacation Bible School for some years.
We had a C.G.I.T. run by Peggy Arkell and during the winter part of their recreation was skating at the Grant School rink. Mita Ellison took over after Peggy left. I know there was a men’s monthly supper in the little white church basement, but I can’t tell you about that.
Our minister. Rev. Gordon Dangerfield, visited us regularly and with the co-operation of our wives or husbands (someone had to look after the children) recruited a choir for Easter. Some of us lasted until our voices gave out many years later. Thelma Hodgins was the organist and she had a small choir – Elsie Ross, Inez Hunter and Allie McMillan were the ladies; Fred Switzer, Ross Ford and Gordon Currie were the men. Elsie’s father, Mr. McDiarmid, was a trained tenor and he helped out.
Dick taught leather craft at Commerce night school so, as long as I could afford it, I paid a babysitter and helped out as chaperone with the Young Peoples. Lois White (now Mrs. Lew LaSalle) was the President and it was a going concern.
Rev. Dangerfield and family left us to go to Iroquois United (remember the widening of the Seaway? Many homes, churches ‘ and cemeteries had to be moved, including Iroquois). I remember it was June 1949, because Mr. Dangerfield insisted we sing ‘Blest be the Tie that Binds’, and it was barely a week since Dick had been buried. My Dad, bless his heart, had made me go. He said ‘This will be hard, but if you don’t go now, it may be years’ and I have not forgotten.
The congregation called Rev. Rinaldo Armstrong. Thelma Hodgins by this time had gone with Gordie and family to an Air Force posting and Alma Hunter (now Mrs. Peter Cameron) was playing the organ. We had many D.P.’s in our midst, and tried to make them appreciate a Canadian Christian home. I remember being shocked at the animosity expressed by Europeans against one another – helps one understand the break-up, or whatever, of Europe and U.S.S.R. When Alma left I took over the hymns, etc.
Then we had a period of outdoor church services on Sunday evening at the Britannia Drive-in Theatre. Our contractor member – Mr. 0. E. Switzer, used his truck to transport the organ, books, etc. to and back from the drive-in every Sunday. Our long-suffering choir put up with rain, wind, and flies, but I have never heard ‘Unto the Hills around do I lift up My Longing Eyes’ sung with more meaning. I remember an anniversary when Mr. Armstrong had an electronic chime (outside the little white church) to draw people in. That service was filmed by CBC (no sound) and shown on the news that night. We also had an Evangelistic week with Rev. Armstrong and various guests. It was difficult for the staff and choir, but energizing for the congregation.
Rev. James Perry was our next minister. The congregation bought a lot on Pinecrest Road and set up a Building Committee. Later that house was sold and we acquired some building lots from the Arkell family. Many of our older members will remember the meetings going far into the night, many nights, until the plans were accepted and the contract let. The Committee deserves our gratitude for the years we have enjoyed the building … it was not a totally enjoyable experience at first, but later struggles have established a warm comfortable building. Our gratitude is due to many
folk. The new building was opened on November 24, 1961 with Presbytery representatives, a choir of 29 and a junior choir of 19.
We joined Britannia United Church on transfer from Dominion United in Ottawa in 1947. In 1948 I helped Lois White LaSalle with the Young Peoples Group, as Dick was teaching night school. I joined the W.M.S. in 1948 and became President in 1959.
At Easter 1948 I joined the choir to help out and stayed with ‘it for many years. The Organist resigned and I took the organ: Ross Ford was the Choir Leader. I resigned in 1952 as I had a chance to be contralto soloist at McLeod United. Two years later McLeod moved in with Stewarton United and Britannia asked me back. I had continued leading Britannia choir while at McLeod. I played the organ etc., at Britannia for some ten years and played at the new church for a couple more when I realized they needed a qualified organist and resigned. I gave them the name of Mary Wilson (married) to call and they did.
We were now in the New Church and the United Church Women was organized by the Head Office. Our member, Mrs. Gladys Andrew, had the unenviable job of welding 200 women of the church into 11 groups according to the day or afternoon desired. Each group had a leader and was responsible for a main event – banquet, bazaar, auction, strawberry tea or cake sale. We had a monthly meeting, a monthly general meeting, and monthly executive meeting. We were busy but happy and healthy! This is an organization for all-women in the Church. The Purpose is: ‘To unite all women of the congregation for ‘the total mission of the Church and to provide a medium through which they may express their loyalty and devotion to Jesus Christ in Christian Witness, Study, Fellowship and Service’. Most United Church women work in Units, where they find friendship and varied opportunities for service and study.
‘A Concerned Church in a Needy World’
In 1968 The Britannia United Church Women on Pinecrest Road had unit meetings as scheduled below:
|DORCAS UNIT – 3rd Monday evening *||Leader – Mrs. M. Jones||828-8682|
|RACHAEL – 3rd Tuesday evening||Leader – Mrs. C. Matheson||828-1293|
|REBEKAH – 4th Wednesday evening||Leader – Mrs. D. Finnigan,||828-5911|
|MARTHA -3rd Tuesday evening||Leader – Mrs. L. LaSalle||731-9694|
|PRISCILLA -4th Wednesday afternoon||Leader – Mrs. E. Smith||224-4870|
|STUDY GROUP – Alternate Thursdays, 8 pm||Leader – Mrs. J. Livesley||828-4765|
|* – Meets at Arkell House|
|General Meeting, June 19th|
|Thank Offering Meeting, October 16th|
|Our Bazaar – October 25th|
I was inducted as Elder in 1964 and served on the Worship Committee. I was also a member of the Nominating committee for three years.
Under Mrs. Wayling I set up a Worship Resource Library and acted as Librarian with two helpers (Mrs. Sally Faulkner and Mrs. Edie Phillips). Miss Peggy Arkell, a Librarian, helped by reading and cataloguing books under the American Congress Library Dewey Decimal System – mostly the 200 ‘Church Education’ category. We had an accession list, a card index, a card in each book, a membership list, etc. This was under the Christian Education Committee of Session and they gave the Library $50.00 a year. I bought books, borrowed many and received the donation of Rev. Rinaldo Armstrong’s Library and other books from the Congregation. A proper Librarian took over and I resigned.
I took over the Observer Every Member mailing list from Mrs. J. Livesley and during this time received many calls from members of the congregation requesting that their name be deleted and looked after for two years until the Church Office assumed that responsibility
I rejoined the choir, did some solo work and also filled in as summer organist etc. resigning in 1981 – my 70th year. During these many years I ‘led’ the Dorcas Group which was composed mainly of the old W.M.S. members who liked to meet in the Chapel at the Church. We met in people’s homes and then in Arkell House while it was active. We raised quite a bit of money for the Church through catering, some weddings, silver weddings, etc.
I became U.C.W. President in 1968-69. We had yearly Christmas dinners. After meeting with the Minister, Mr. Doug. Lapp, the U.C.W. voted to freeze the Executive and the U.C.W. for two years so all the duties were handed over to the Official Board and Stewards. The Nominating Committee has not seen fit to fill the positions of chairman of Projects and Visiting Committees (Jean Boles carried this on for many years). I remember I was the chairman of the Projects Committee for five years with an excellent Committee; Betty and Lloyd Eyamie (Lillian Anderson’s daughter) were the treasurers and good ones. When they had to leave, Al & Jenny Hunter did valuable work as Treasurers and Mildred & Jim Mann, Audrey & Cy Marchant and Angus & Jean Wylie were great members. It was a good committee with plenty of ideas and energy. During Rev. Mr. Lapp’s and Rev. Barry Thomas’s terms we had events of some sort each month for fun and money. This lasted for five years. No one would take over, I ran out of steam and resigned. The nominating Committee has not renewed this either.
I had a stroke in 1 989 that kept me in hospital for three months. The Church kept me supplied with many flowers, plants and cards, for which I thank you all. In December 1989, 1 was released from hospital with instructions to slow down and to resign from everything, which I did.
In May of 1962, the Social Action Committee was formed with Katie Parker as the chairperson. She had remarked after doing Christmas hampers ‘we should be looking after these people all year round’. Social Action became involved in many activities: Christmas hampers led to involvement with the Christmas Exchange, giving donations and making baskets. We also had volunteers help out in the Christmas Exchange Toy Centre.
During the 1960’s, we had volunteer visitors for the Elizabeth Fry and John Howard Societies. This went on into the 1970’s. Social Action also involved babysitting and the blood clinic at Bell Northern. White gifts were sent to Pikangikum Indian Reserve Grade School in Northern Ontario. As a result of these gifts, we received the paintings in the little chapel which were painted by one of the residents at the School.
In 1961 the church moved from the white church at Britannia Road and Carling. Margaret Arkell gave Arkell House to the church in 1966 and it was used as a multi-purpose centre for church and community social action activities. A great number of the persons attending were interdenominational, i.e., Britannia Community Service, which was manned by Anglican, Lutheran and United Churches who took requests from the Churches, Public Health Nurses, Social Workers, Telephone Co-ordinators and Individuals. They also made referrals, helped with Meals on Wheels, a student study project and a clothing depot.
The Ottawa Boys Club, later the Boys and Girls Club, was sponsored in 1971-76 in Arkell House. They had daily programs and a summer program. The two paid staff had office space. Social Action was given two scholarships by Britannia Co-operative Nursery.
In the fall of 1977, The Social Action Committee received a Canada work grant which allowed us to do a survey called ‘Can the church serve the community?’ When the submission was first made it was felt that some of the money could be used to do some of the work that needed to be done. When the grant was received and guidelines set down on paper, we found that we could only do the survey. While working on this survey, Sheila Slaney got the call to go into the ministry and made her decision very shortly after. She went to Queen’s and became a minister.
This was the beginning of West End Interfaith. The Canada Works required that there be a steering committee made up of people from other groups and it was decided to call on other churches in the area. ‘The steering committee members consisted of outreach committees from All Saints Lutheran, Britannia United, Knox United, St. Basil’s R.C., Westboro United, Woodroffe United, Bethany Baptist, Bromley Rd. Baptist, Our Lady of Fatima R.C., St. John’s R.C., St. Stephen’s Anglican, and Trinity United Churches. After the project they decided to meet monthly then every second month to organize and report on the different projects. After this project, it was decided to try and co-ordinate Social Services in this area. The people of this project were involved in this and many others. Funding was carried out by the Pinecrest Queensway Social Service which later became Pinecrest Queensway Social Health Services.
Money raised for the Social Action Committee was from the rummage sales started by Social Action and at first the money from these sales all went to do social action work.- The Benevolent Fund is a fund of money raised by the blue envelopes placed in the bulletins at every communion service. These funds were used for emergencies when someone called the church, some at the discretion of the minister and some from Social Action. Other money came from donations and some from General Fund.
In 1979, Social Action sponsored a Refugee Committee to bring two boat families to Ottawa. Mr. & Mrs. Art Green took a family of four (one woman and three young men – all were cousins). Mr. & Mrs. Lloyd Winacott took a 24 year old mother and her four year old daughter. Social Action also helped with Alanon, A.A. and Fellowship Club.
Social Action faded away between the mid 1980’s and the early 1990’s; now, however a New Committee has been formed. The Committee- includes Mission Service and Outreach.
When a baby was born a rose was put on the altar. I’m not sure of the exact dates, but I do know it happened and it was about 1 951 to 1 961. 1 was flower convenor at the time. We placed a rose on the altar for each baby born to a family in the church and the rose was taken to the mother. It was started, as I said, about 1 951 , in the white church and continued for a short time in this building. The Fallis Brothers’ Florists donated the rose and I put it on the altar with a notice. After church I took the rose to the mother. The Fallis family were members of this church for a long time.
The Britannia Chancel Players were started by Joan & Jack Livesly in the 1960’s, when Reverend John Wayling was the Minister. Original members included Cindy & Ernie Wade, Don Robertson, Sylvia Darwood, Bob Andrew, Jean Fairholm, Katie Parker and Jean Shaw.
The idea was to perform plays in the church as an act of worship and the first production was ‘Christ in the Concrete City’ by P.W. Turner. This was the story of the Crucifixion and was performed at the 9.30 a.m. Service, with John Wayling preaching as usual at the 11.00 a.m. Service. As Jack Livesly remarked, ‘it was weeping at the 9.00 a.m. Service and Wayling at the 11:00 a.m. Service!’
More members joined the group, including Susan & Chris Worsnop, Les Bonhower, Howie Lochead and Mary & Jim Holmes. When one of the youth clubs collaborated with Joan ‘to write an original script, the entire youth club joined in.
A number of plays were performed over the years but gradually the leading players left the area. Joan & Jack Livesly’ moved to Toronto, as did the Wades. Then John Wayling was called to St. James Bond United Church in Toronto and the cast of ‘Christ’ in the Concrete City’ met in Toronto to perform once more at his Church.
The Chancel Players were invited to perform in a number of local churches and while Toronto was the farthest destination, the group travelled to Iroquois, Shawville, Arnprior and other valley towns.
Gradually members moved away and that, combined with difficulty in finding Suitable plays worthy of performance in church, caused the group to disband. A small reunion was held two years ago with lots of reminiscing. Thank you, Britannia United for giving us a wonderful experience. It is a quirk of fate that the library of the Chancel Players was given to Camille Lipsett when she was at Bells Corners United Church.
At the town hall meeting on October 5, 1 997, when we talked about the history of Britannia United Church, images went racing through my mind of Church events that had touched my life.
I have four brothers and, for as long as I can remember, our family has attended Britannia United Church. When we were growing up, we lived in Britannia Bay. To get to church, we would walk through the woods on a well-worn path, cross the ball diamond, hike up a hill to Pinecrest and Carling, then down Carling to ‘the little white church’ at the top of the hill. We did this through rain, snow and sleet etc. and young people don’t want to hear what happened in the ‘old days’, right!
I seem to recall hearing something about lack of heat and water, but I may be wrong. Because we were kids when we attended that church, I don’t remember any of these hardships. Parents take care of the needs of their children. If they need a drink of water, it appears in a glass in front of them. Kids don’t usually know what their parents had to do to get it. We spent a lot of time at our grandparents’ farm during the summer – they had no electricity, no running water, no indoor plumbing, no TV – so going to church and not having some of those amenities seemed normal.
I recall attending church first, then Sunday school afterwards. One of my teachers was May Jones’ daughter. I had my class in the choir loft. The other classes were held throughout the church and I think the nursery was in the church hall downstairs. I love singing in church- my brothers used to poke me and tell me not to sing so loud, of course I didn’t listen to them. I wanted to make sure God heard me.
The only Minister I vaguely remember was Reverend Armstrong. He seemed very stern to me. That may have been because I was so small and he was dressed in black and appeared so tall up there in the pulpit.
I have fuzzy memories of eating at this church. I don’t know if it was a bazaar or social or what. I just remember the sandwiches being small and dainty and most importantly, made with store-bought bread. My brothers and I were raised homemade – homemade bread, homemade cookies, homemade soup, homemade mitts – and we all craved the store- bought stuff. Of course, in retrospect I know we had the very best. Some days we would come home from school and the house would smell wonderful. We thought the goodies were for us, but before we could touch a thing, my mom would say: ‘They’re not for home, they’re for the church!’ We were allowed to have any broken cookies or the hard edges of squares- and we would wait for Mom to come home from church to see if the ladies ate all the goodies or if there were some left for us. I have inadvertently passed this tradition on to my children. This past Thanksgiving, Jarrod had dinner with his girl friend and her family. He made brownies the night before to bring for dessert. When we got up on Sunday morning, I was informed that we could have all the hard edges that we wanted, but we were to leave the brownies alone!
I remember the Church was always packed and there were lots of kids in Sunday School. At some point, I remember Sunday school being field at Grant Public School. That’s where I went during the week and it seemed very strange to be there on a Sunday. I don’t recall too many functions that were held in the winter, although I do remember horse drawn sleigh rides and going back to the Church afterwards for hot chocolate and hot dogs.
The first Minister I remember in the New Church was Reverend Wayling. When people attend church they generally sit in the same place and sit beside the same people each Sunday. Just before church began one Sunday, he asked every one if they were comfortable where they were sitting. When he heard murmurs in the affirmative, he said, ‘Good, , the first four rows are empty, so I’d like everyone to move up four rows.’ So everyone got out of their comfortable seats and moved to the front. I have no idea why I remembered that – at the time I thought it was fun – which is probably why I sit in the front now – I just want to g et comfortable once!
One sermon I remember had to do with how we judge people. He was telling us that he spent one Saturday either doing yard work or fixing the lawnmower or something like that; anyway, whatever it was, he was dressed for dirty work. He needed a part for something and had to go to the store to get it, so he hopped in the car and drove over. He looked just like every other guy doing his Saturday chores. He was nobody special and he had to wait in line to get served. Later that day, he changed into his clerical collar and went back to the same store. He said the clerks were standing in line ready to wait on him. They weren’t even looking at his face and didn’t know he had been there that morning and couldn’t get anyone to serve him. They just saw his collar and therefore felt that he should receive preferential treatment.
Reverend Wayling and his family had spent some time in India before they came to Britannia. Mrs. Wayling thought it would be interesting to show everyone the different saris she brought back. We had a tea, fashion show and a lot of the girls in my youth class participated. While the guests sipped tea and ate those delicate sandwiches, I talked before, about how we would get dressed and parade around the room in our saris. Mrs. Wayling gave a kind of travelogue and explained what class of people wore which type of sari. They were all so colourful. It was great fun.
When I was about 1 6 or 1 7, we shared facilities with St. Stephen’s Anglican Church. Church Services were held at St. Stephen’s and Sunday School was held here in this building. Reverend Perry was the Minister then. In 1970, he married Lloyd and me at St. Stephen’s Church and the U.C.W catered our reception here in the sanctuary at Britannia.
Four years later, when we started our family, we moved to a small town in the country called Winchester Springs. We attended a little white church there that was identical to Britannia’s little white church. I don’t think it had running water either. Our life there really has no bearing on the history of Britannia except for one very important thing, that is where we met Myron Maxted. He baptized our boys there and when we returned to Britannia for visits, he loved to tease them about holding them when they were babies.
We have been back at Britannia now since 1995. In March 1996, Matthew was in Montreal at the Neurological Institute having surgery. He had surgery on a Wednesday and a-couple of days later, he walked to the phone to call all the people he loved, to tell them how great he was feeling. Above all, Matthew needed to call Myron to tell him that he now had a shorter haircut than Myron had. He recovered remarkably well and I believe it had a lot to do with the prayers and well-wishes of our family, our friends and this congregation.
We always feel proud when Jarrod plays his guitar in church. He improvises and just plays what he feels. Once Myron was waiting for him to be finished so church could start. Jarrod was so engrossed in his music that it wasn’t until Myron said, ‘Good morning’ that Jarrod realized where he was.
This is a caring, serving, family church with a lot of energy and we can accomplish anything so long as we keep Jesus in our heart, in our church and first in all we do.
How many times do you notice when travelling into a little town, (that) the first thing you see is the church, set on a hill above the rest of the village? Such was the case of the Britannia United Church at the corner of Britannia Rd. and Carling Ave. It was a familiar landmark to most local Ottawans, especially if they made their summer residence at Britannia Bay. A plain little building of wood siding painted white, yet it somehow stands out in your memories, even though you may never have attended there. In the early days there was no basement. At the front entrance there was a small lawn and flowers. The drive shed was on the easterly back side. The east lawn was large enough for the members to socialize after the services. The windows and doors were arched equilaterally in the Gothic style. The roof over the front door and main building was decorated by a barge-board of lacelike scrollwork. Doris Honeywell recalls the quaint wooden ceiling carved in rectangular shapes. The other prominent feature was the little -wooden platform where the Christmas concerts took place. The choir was famous for its outstanding singers and often sang in other churches.
During a period of reconstruction, a wooden board was found under the front steps with these words written on it, ‘James West & William West Contractors, July 3rd 1875, very dry weather’. Members had been meeting in homes since 1869. In the minutes of 1873 there was a report on the building committee for the parsonage. It was built on Pinecrest Rd. opposite the Forge. In May 1874, J. White, A. Nelson and E. Honeywell were the three trustees. Rev. R. Short was the preacher in charge. The preacher served three congregations, Britannia, Fallowfield and Bells Corners. Money was combined from the three churches to pay the salary of $300.00 to the preacher but it was not always met.
After the basement was excavated in 1925, a great deal of activity took place downstairs. The women held their first harvest supper. As there was no running water the women had to carry large buckets of water from Judge Larchford’s or the Forge and dump it into storage barrels. The food was cooked on wood stoves and many people were served. The Ladies Auxiliary had many teas and Mrs. E. H. Honeywell supervised quilting bees. Mr. McDiarmid taught Sunday school to the young people.
Some of the early family names on the roll in 1925 you may recognize: Armstrong, Bell, Day, Goddard, Grimes, Herdman, Lillico, MacDonald, Peterson, Ullett, Viens, Watson, Mooney, and Fallis. Rev. Dangerfield who served in the forties is well remembered by West End residents as he either married them or baptized their children.
Around 1960, the church was bursting at its seams. The city would not let it expand, as it intended to widen Carling Ave. Rather ironic when you see how close the city permits a high rise apartment to build to the road, with little or no landscaping to relieve the mountain of cement!
Music is part of virtually all religions of the world. At Britannia United, music is a desirable part of public worship for two basic reasons. There is a religious perspective in music which is difficult to provide on either the written or the spoken word. Anthems such as the Hallelujah Chorus, for example, promote a level of understanding which would remain latent. This same feeling of understanding is revealed weekly through the choir’s anthems and solos. Secondly, through the leadership of the organist and choir, the congregation’s one or two hundred individual voices tend to be unified in harmony and rhythm during the singing of hymns.
The heritage of each Christian denomination is different, as is the nature and form of music in public worship. For many of us the words and melodies learned from our mothers, or in early years of Sunday school are retained with unusual tenacity. The United Church has, miraculously been able to preserve in song, the musical traditions and usages of its founding denominations. However, music, like language, cannot remain static if it is to be used and understood. The integration of music from the southern United States and the Caribbean has broadened and enriched our musical backgrounds during the last 35 years. There will doubtless be other enrichments in the future brought from other parts of the world.
It was my good fortune to visit Assisi, Italy, made famous by Saint Francis. A feature of one of the churches visited was a choir of monks chanting in Latin. We were told that rotating choirs chanted day and night and had done so for hundreds of years. Chanting has a strange fascination, but one to which I could not readily adapt.
My association with Britannia United began as long ago as the late 1920’s. My grandfather owned a summer cottage at what is now 842 Alpine Avenue. On occasion, my father, mother, brothers and sisters came for a picnic. Before we had a car, we boarded the Ottawa Electric Railway’s Britannia car, at the corner of Bank and Albert Streets. The street car stopped at McGee’s, 2 or 3 hundred yards south of the Richmond Road. There was a narrow path which ran to where Peter’s Pantry is now, to Carling Avenue and up Alpine Avenue. The road was primitive. It went through a beautiful wooded area. The street stopped at Elmhurst Ave. or, as it was then called, the Sandy Road. Beyond the Sandy Road was Arkell’s Farm, covering much of the area south of a wooded area on the hill on Alpine Ave. My church association was through my aunt Margret, who sang in our choir for many years. During the summer months while at the cottage with my grandfather and the Moore family, she sang at Britannia United. When the family moved back into town, she sang in the choir at St. Giles’ Presbyterian Church on Bank St. I have been told that an official report in our church’s records in 1930 bears the signature of Margret Packman.
My wife and I joined Britannia United in 1950. The choirs of the little white church and the present Pinecrest Rd. Church have, over the last 48 years played a significant role in the religious life of our family. To all organists, choir directors and choir members we extend our sincere and heartfelt thanks.
Many of the early settlers who came to Nepean Township were sons and daughters of United Empire Loyalists. Britannia Village had several mills at first, then by thel9OO’s it was known as a favourite recreation spot where many people who lived in Ottawa had cottages. Britannia Heights, where our church had its beginning, was mainly settled by farmers.
Even before the little white church was built the early settlers had services of worship in homes. We understand the services were held in the home of early settler Ira Honeywell. At the time of the actual building of the church, Ira’s grandson, Elkanah, was a trustee. Other trustees were John White and Alex Nelson. Very active members included Mrs. Robert Hare and Edward Watson. Presbytery Archives show the first marriage in Britannia Church to be that of Barbara Hare and Rev. Foster McAmmand. Another wedding in 1875 was that of Elizabeth Graham and John Bell.
These devoted settlers built a church at the northeast corner of Carling Avenue and Britannia Road during 1873/74. Since the church was built where two important streets met, Britannia Church was a familiar landmark known by most people in Nepean Township. The church was on a very steep hill which some remember as an excellent sliding place for children. A parsonage was built on Pinecrest Road across from the Old Forge and it is still standing.
At first the little white church had no basement and no water. It did have a drive shed, closed in -on three sides, to shelter horses. People came to church by horse and buggy or in winter they came by cutter. The sound of sleigh bells must have been one of the most pleasant sounds of the time.
In the 1870’s and 1880’s, several churches were served by one minister. At first Britannia was grouped with churches at City View and Westboro. We have to remember that these areas were all rural areas at the time and for many years after. On June 29, 1911, electric lights were installed in Britannia. By 1924 the little white church had a new basement hall – but it never did have running water. Difficulty in getting water did not keep the ladies from having big harvest suppers complete with homemade pies. The ladies cooked on wood stoves and the men had to bring water in big kettles from the nearby farms of Hunter’s (near where Sterling Place is now) and from Winthrop’s farm (where the Old Forge is). We hear the ladies could feed 400 people.
Another popular event was the Annual Strawberry Social. Around the 1900’s, these events took place outside, on one occasion at least, on Mr. Cochrane’s lawn. On other occasions, socials were held on G. M. Goddard’s lawn. Added attractions were fish ponds and music. Also a favourite event in the 1920’s and 30’s was the Annual Christmas Concert. With a big Sunday School providing the entertainment, this was always fun. A huge tree (real, of course) would be placed at the front of the church. Prior to 1911, the church was lighted by old oil lamps in brackets on the wall. This must have cast a warm glow over the entire proceedings. There was Christmas candy for the children and this would help to make the concert a memorable event. Small gifts were also greatly appreciated.
One of the most important events in our church year was the Sunday School Picnic. We had an ideal area for such an undertaking right on our doorstep – Britannia Park with its open space, race track, baseball diamond, many tables and a beautiful grove of trees under which to set up our picnic tables and supplies. Most families were within walking distance and we usually had a great turn out – not only the Sunday School but the whole congregation would be present. An advance team would head off early in the morning, reserve tables and gather them into an area, set aside for Britannia United Church, ready for picnic baskets, etc, as they arrived.
At a certain hour, we gathered in the area where we were to participate in fun & games. We took part in 3 legged races, wheelbarrow races, potato sack races as well as running races for all ages, races for the gentlemen and walking races for the ladies. There were ball games and other games taking place while some of the ladies and gentlemen would look after the mounds of sandwiches, cakes, cookies, salads, fruit, vegetables, homemade candy, etc. all ready for the ravenous hordes at meal time. One of our favourite treats was a ‘Whyte’s Dubl Dip’ ice cream cone. Mr. Whyte had a well insulated bag in which he would pack a 5 gallon can, transport it in his truck to out- picnic area at the magic hour with enough cones to go around and everyone had to stand in line to pick up their special treat of the day; it was sheer delight. Remember ice cream was not as available as it is today; this was during the 20’s and the dirty 30’s—the terrible depression years! Everyone had a thermos with either tea or coffee or a cold drink. I recall lemonade being served from a huge container for anyone who was thirsty. What wonderful memories we have of an era in the midst of unemployment, depression and the threat of war—a time of fun and hope for better days ahead!
In 1984, Ontario celebrated its Bicentennial. The City of Ottawa suggested that all churches should hold Strawberry Socials since they were a part of our past. After a bit of hesitating, Britannia decided to have its first Strawberry Social in many years. With the help of many people who picked, prepared and served, we had a successful event which attracted 140 people. We’ve had a Strawberry Social every year since 1984.
OTHER SOCIAL EVENTS
When our minister, Myron Maxted, worked as Chaplain to the Ottawa Police Force, we had a number of opportunities to hear the Police Choir, or part of it. They would sing many times during our services so those were memorable occasions. After the service the choir members wanted to socialize with the congregation so -we were to provide a lunch. ‘No sandwiches’, said Myron. Apparently everyone else gave them sandwiches, so we served many Chilli Lunches which were enjoyed by all.
For several years, many churches, including Britannia, held Chicken Barbecues. Some local farmers had special barbecuing equipment. At our church the chicken was prepared in our parking lot. Our men, including the minister, had to rush the finished chicken into the church where long tables had been set up. We soon learned to put new paper on the tables before the second sitting. We also learned, ‘No sales at the door’ when the special day arrived. Waiting patiently for the chicken to cook was part of the scene. One year we served 225.
Elaine Harrington announced the Barbecues and so for a while she was referred to as ‘The Chicken Lady’. Later we got to know the lady as ‘Elaine’; she helped in many capacities.
Christmas Pot Luck Suppers:
For many years these suppers were put on by the Dorcas Group for all the ladies of the church. When Britannia got an Adult Group, the two groups joined for a Christmas Pot Luck Supper. This event then evolved into a celebration for the whole family with all ages participating in the meal and program. When the Dorcas Ladies had the suppers they always had a mitten tree. Those attending the supper brought mittens for the tree and later the mittens were given to the needy – sometimes to the Regional Hospital at Smith Falls.
How many church supper dishes did Angus Wylie wash before our new dishwashing machine arrived?
For 16 years this group has been giving hard-working church workers a time to relax and socialize. The group was started (in response to requests) by the Aingers, Marchants, and Helen Sloan, quickly joined by the Mays and Oldridges, so there was a lot of help. Al and Jennie Hunter helped too and they soon established a bowling League which lasted a long time.
Looking over a list of our programs the most noteworthy thing is that most of our programs were produced by Britannia people. We have a wealth of talent and expertise.
In 1982, we started with Jim Mann telling how he volunteered as a professional retiree to help the Government of Surinam, while Mildred taught crafts and nutrition to the ladies. Later on we heard Wally Packman talk of his work with third world countries’ aid agencies.
In 1986, our special treat was when Britannia’s Lindy Fraser told how she started the first Osteoporosis, Self-Help Group in North America at the Old Forge. We saw a vide6 the government made on her life and work and then we heard this 92 year old lady speak of her progress due to exercise, nutrition, new medication and a great deal of determination.
One of our more relaxing evenings was when our Howie and Helen Mason brought in three old radio programs to which we listened with rapt attention. Lloyd, helped by Lois Winnacott, presented several very different programs on photography over the years, and in the past few years, Betty Locke has given us several sessions on National Art Gallery prints which she brought. Recently Anne Tomlinson told us of her white water rafting holiday and Jean Fairholm tried to bring us up to date with a talk and demonstration of Reflexology.
When we’ve gone outside our congregation for speakers, we heard from missionaries in Korea, Angola, Zaire and Egypt. Other ministers we’ve heard were: Maggie Coleman, with a moving talk on people affected by Aids disease and Jim Baldwin on his work with children of Chernobyl, victims of the Nuclear disaster.
In a serious vein, we had two sessions on Wills, Estate Planning and RRSP’s in 1985. Later, Nepean Seniors Home Support sent us a speaker on nutrition which seemed helpful to all, even the men. A speaker from Ottawa’s Story Tellers was fascinating as she told several short stories.
We’ve had group participation on all kinds of themes: poetry, antiques and heirlooms for example. Since we have a well-travelled group, we’ve had videos, talks, music and food from places where our people have lived or visited.
Years ago we had regular outings: tours of Bell Telephone, the Police Station, the Ottawa Citizen (conducted by Ian Montgomery), the Nepean Museum and the Bonnechere Caves. We attended many concerts. I remember having a Chinese meal at Katie Parker’s before we attended an evening of Chinese Entertainment. Our best outings have to be at Gord and Thelma Hodgins’ Cottage and Clarence & Millicent McLarens’ summer home in Metcalfe. We did make a few trips to local parks.
The McLarens were coordinators for awhile, then Elaine Harrington, and now our leaders are Jean Boles & Retta Camelon. We’ve always been able to call on members for music or games when needed and Eileen Fairholm always gives us a reminder phone call. All this help has given us 16 very good years.
The Christmas Newsletter of 1985 reminds us that this was the time when a group called the Sanctuary Ownership Fund Committee were in the midst of a drive to repay a $22,500 loan borrowed from Presbytery in 1 965. Every group and every person at Britannia was working towards this goal. Special money-making activities were added to the regular ones. We had a Fifties Dance, a Pancake Breakfast, a Fashion Show and an Auction of Services. For the Auction, anyone who had a special talent (of any kind) would try to sell that talent to someone else. This was a very interesting activity and a money-maker of course. The group succeeded and our loan was paid off. Many of the events were ideas of Michel, & Brian Rose, which were carried out by all.
When Cy and I moved to the Bayshore area, we joined the closest Square Dance Club. When we told the caller we were doing as many things as we could in our new neighbourhood he suggested we go to Britannia United Church’s Open House that weekend. Probably Mike Turner’s teenagers ‘Teen Twirlers’ were performing at that event as the young square dancers met regularly at the church for many years. We went to the Open House and we soon met the minister Rev. Barry Thomas and later his wife Helen in the Sunday school area. We talked to many church members as we looked at the impressive displays of Social Action Work, Missions etc. Before a week went by we’d been to a church service and Barry had been to visit us in our apartment. We never did go to visit the other nearby churches as we had already started to meet some great new friends.
As we celebrate Britannia United Church’s I 20th anniversary, let us look at some of the happenings from past to present.
Britannia Methodist Church was a familiar landmark to most local Ottawans, as ‘the little white church on the hill’. A plain little building painted white, yet somehow it stands out in your memories, even though you may never have attended there.
The church grew out of services held in the home of Ira Honeywell, the first settler in Nepean Township. Members had been meeting in homes since 1869. The church was built between 1873 and 1874. The first marriage at Britannia is said to be that of Barbara Hare and Rev. Foster McAmmand. Britannia was originally part of a three point Methodist charge which included Cityview and Westboro. A parsonage was built on Pinecrest Road across from the Olde Forge and it is still standing.
The little white church had no basement and no water but it did have a drive-shed which was closed in on three sides to shelter horses. People came to church by horse and buggy or in winter they came by cutter.
After the basement was excavated in 1925 a great deal of activity took place downstairs. There was still no running water and it had to be carried in large buckets from Judge Latchford’s or the Forge and dumped into storage barrels.
Some of the early family names on the roll in 1925 were: Armstrong, Bell, Day, Goddard, Grimes, Herdman, Lillico, MacDonald, Peterson, Ullett, Viens, Watson, Mooney and Fallis.
In 1925, the year of church union, Britannia became officially Britannia United Church. It was still part of a three point charge including Bell’s Corners and Fallowfield.
Around 1960, the church was bursting at its seams and the city would not let it expand as it intended to widen Carling Ave. The congregation decided to move to the site on Pinecrest Road, where there was plenty of room to expand. November 19, 1961, was the date of the last service held in the old white church on the hill.
The church moved into its new quarters in 1961 and the building was referred to as a Christian’ Education Centre. The building was officially dedicated on November 24, 1961, when Rev. James Perry was the minister. At that time two morning services and one evening service were held. Rev. Frank Morgan was the first member of Britannia congregation to enter the ministry.
Arkell House and property adjacent, to the church on Pinecrest Road, were donated to Britannia by Miss Margaret Arkell in memory of her parents, Mr. and Mrs. H. S. Arkell. Arkell House was dedicated on Sept. 18, 1966, when Rev. John Wayling was minister, as a multi-purpose centre for church and community activities.
On June 9, 1976, there was a sod-turning ceremony to mark the beginning of construction of Arkell Hall which was dedicated by the minister, Rev. Barry Thomas.
Some of the interesting activities at Britannia United Church over the years have been:
- Concerts -Chancel Players
- Drive-in Church Services -Cluster Groups
- Dorcas Unit-Ladies met monthly for worship and Bible study.
-Social Action Committee
- Bible Study Groups
- Interdenominational Fellowship Group for Seniors
- Christmas gifts to Pikangikum Indian School
- ‘Mitten Tree’ at Christmas dinner
- Sponsoring two Vietnamese families
- Paying off the mortgage
- numerous bazaars, strawberry socials, garage sales, chicken barbecues, cookbooks, talent auction and other fundraisers.
In the early days of West End Villa on Elmira Drive a resident, Kathleen Erwin, came to me (Lilian Anderson) when she went to reside at West End Villa and told me that there was no United Church service. Her intercity minister gave her names and phone numbers of west end churches she could contact. She called Britannia and Rev. Maxted visited her and agreed to do a monthly service. Judy Taylor, secretary of Britannia church, called for volunteers for several years to help get residents to attend the services; then Marg. Campbell was asked to call for volunteers and did this for 10 to12 years assisted by Helen Sloan. June Orr plays the organ and music for soloists. Britannia Church still does this outreach today.
|1869||J. L. Rose||1914||Elwood Lawson
Mr. Kerslake – assistant
|1871||R. Short||1915||Rev. Arthur Hopper|
|1875||J. Anderson||1916||Rev. W. S. Jamison|
|1876||J. W. Andrews||1919||Rev. Phillip|
|1877||E. S. Howard||1920||Rev. J. Kerslake|
|1879||S. A. Dupreau||1924||Rev. J. Clark Riley|
|1925||Rev. John Webster
Rev. Dr. L. S. Hughson
|1882||E. Woodcock||1941||Rev. G. Dangerfield|
|1949||R. W. Armstrong|
|1893-4||Rev. Ernest Tripp||1958||Rev. J. M. Perry|
|1898||R. L. Oliver||1963||Rev. John Wayling|
|1967||Rev. Douglas C. Lapp|
|1970||Rev. J. Hendry|
|1904||C. L. Curtis||1974||Rev. Barry Thomas|
|1906||H. E. Young||1980||Rev. Myron Maxted|
|1910||H. E. Warren
Rev. Sully – assistant
|1997||Rev. Camille Lipsett|
The first Young Peoples Association at Britannia United Church was formed March 19, 1926, with a distinguished group of senior members forming the executive, i.e. Eric Fallis, B. J. Roberts & Margaret Packman, etc. Unfortunately this association did not last very long.
On January 8, 1930, a new association was formed with the following officers:
President: Allan Lillico
Vice Pres.: Frank Morgan
Sec.-Treas.: Winnifred Macdonald
Missions Isobel Lillico, Nesbitt Baker, Marguerite Viens
Literary: Edward Hare, Waverly Tyers, Stuart
Social: Almira Macdonald, Lilas Stapledon, Don Jamieson, Earl Mooney
Meetings were held every second Wednesday and occasionally were at private homes or with other church groups. The general format became an hour of Bible study or Missions, followed by an hour arranged by our Social Executive. At some time Mr. H. S. Arkell became the Leader of the Bible class portion of the evening and the total evening became open to all – Mr. Arkell was a Baptist. We made no distinction or special demands regarding membership. We even had a couple of Catholics who attended regularly, i.e., Hugh Poulin and Rhoda Connolly.
As part of the entertainment one evening, Frank Morgan told a ghost story. The only light was from an imitation camp-fire in the center of the room. As he told the story he moved around, thus his shadow was moving all the time. At the crucial moment, one member (pre-arranged) yelled and fell forward on the floor (Hare by name). When the lights were turned on everyone was standing!
I moved back to the city in The spring of 1 932 and was invited to participate in a play being organized for the Annual United Church Play Competition which was to be held at-the Little Theatre. George Jackson was the director and players included Kay Goddard, Waverly Tyers, Fern Morrison, Ed Packham and Ed Hare – I do not remember the others in the cast. The play was ‘he Reading of The Will’ and if my memory serves me correctly, we were congratulated for our efforts and I think were judged best at the Competition.
I regret that 1 cannot recall any additional facts about this worthwhile Association and the many helpful people who made it a very enjoyable event.
During the early 70’s, when Jim Hendry was our minister, and Bob Root was a student minister at Britannia, a different form of service was started. It was an alternate form of worship and became very popular with the few who were regular attendees. Our next minister, Barry Thomas, kept it going throughout his time with us which ended in 1981.
Our family began attending when our teenaged sons considered themselves too old for Sunday school and were digging in their heels about coming to a regular church service. They liked the free and easy atmosphere and the fact that their input was as valuable as that of the adults present. The intimacy of the small group (there were about 15 to 29 regulars but never more than 30) made it easy to get to know one another.
The service began with some rousing hymns accompanied by Hans Van Gijn. These hymns were upbeat, usually fast paced; someone in the group had assembled, typed and put them into duo-tang folders – lyrics without music. The favourites were ‘Go Profit, Go’, ‘It only Takes a Spark’, ‘There’ll be Sunshine in the Morning’, ‘Morning has Broken’, and one that made it into the latest hymn book, ‘Lord of the Dance’. After the hymn sing, the service proceeded with the topic of discussion for that week. These topics would have been decided in advance and required one or more persons to volunteer to lead the group the following Sunday. Being a leader meant one had to do some research during the week and some preparation but there was never any competition and all ages participated. Often the leader would use interesting back-up of charts, pictures, or quotes. The format was not a ‘sermon’ but an open discussion on a current moral issue with everyone present adding his or her say if they wished, without pressure.
Occasionally there were field trips. One time in the spring, we headed down to the Ottawa River in early morning with a volunteer naturalist to see and identify the returning birds. On another occasion we met at the Science Museum and attended a lecture on astronomy.
During the years that our family attended the 9 o’clock service we found it a very positive experience and one that filled a need for us at that time. The friends we made and the times we shared were good ones.
Since 1987, all children, who were baptized in Britannia United Church, have received a birthday card on their first birthday after their baptism and the card is addressed personally to the child.
Up to and including October 1998, a total of 135 cards have been mailed out. A record of all these children is kept in a hardcover book and periodically is reviewed by a member of the Sunday school to determine who has become 4 or 5 years old and who would be interested in attending Sunday school. Their parents are contacted and invited to attend a luncheon with their child on a given date. In the past, it has not been too successful, just two of these children joined Sunday school, but that was better than no one. We will not give up and continue our gesture of good will.
One of our first memories of arriving at Britannia over 20 years ago was the weekly joking and kibitzing by Chic LaGrave. He always greeted you with a laugh and smile. Over the years as our involvement increased, we got to know many people and have appreciated their friendship and support.
Wendy remembers sleeping in the church overnight as ‘security’ (before the alarm system) for the church bazaar. A lot of fun and fellowship but not much sleep.
Bob enjoyed the Men’s Club and the friendships made.
Russell, Nancy and Susan have all attended Sunday school and the girls have both been teachers. The outdoor worship service and picnics at Baxter Conservation Centre hold many happy memories. The outdoor worshipping certainly gave us an inspirational uplift. The games and socializing made us feel like ‘one big family’. Another social event we have enjoyed is the ‘outdoor work party day’. The chance to work together as a family for the church has been enjoyed. The fresh air and exercise along with the joking and ribbing made the work seem less strenuous. The hot dog lunches gave us a well-earned rest, nourishment, and time to relax and get to know others.
Russell looks forward to church each Sunday and talking to all his ‘friends’. The friendliness of the congregation towards Russ has been greatly appreciated by us. The Sunday school welcoming him for so many years means a lot to us all as well.
Bob’s involvement with the 120th Anniversary Committee helped us to learn more about the history of Britannia.
The reason I started at Britannia United was I was taken there. The reason my family came because it was close and my mother, Stella White, felt as long as you believed in God and followed the teaching in the Bible that was the only important thing.
Thinking about this anniversary has made me remember many things. One was the time my mother came to church in her new hat only to be met by Mrs. Richardson of Armstrong and Richardson Shoe Store wearing the identical hat which caused a lot of phone calls between the White house and the Richardson house on Saturday night.
My mother took her Sunday School class on a visit to Parliament to listen to the debate because she felt knowing what was going on in the world was important to us as Christians. When we got there they would not let us in because the girls were not wearing hats. Mother called Dick Bell and he told us to put a Kleenex on our head till we got in the gallery. We took it off then. What I learned, on looking back, was that politicians were no different then than they are now. They spent the whole time discussing whether to let coloured margarine into the country or not. This was during the Second World War and there were many serious matters they could have discussed.
My other memories were of many things, one of which was the Garden Party the Church held in Goddard’s yard, at the corner of Forest and Richmond Road and Croydon. It was a beautiful yard all the time but in June it was full of the most beautiful peonies. The Garden Party was a Strawberry Social and Sale with bake table and craft table, etc. and all the games for children i.e. fish pond. The Strawberry Shortcake was served with ice cream from ‘Whyte’s Dubl Dip’ which was on Richmond Road just across Forest from Goddard’s. As dusk came we had a movie which was on a large screen. We sat or lay on the lawn to watch – as a young teenager this was great. I don’t remember how much this affair made but it was a big money maker.
When I was chair of young people, I remember having people come in from other religions and denominations to talk about their religion and we learned the difference in denominations as well as other religions. For example, Bertram Loeb, who was studying to be a Rabbi at the time, came to talk about Judaism.
I remember going visiting when I first was an elder at the age of twenty-four and visiting a person in a high-rise. When he answered the door I said I was the new elder and he said I could not be because he was old enough to be my grandfather.
The more I remember the more comes to my mind. I remember when my oldest son was baptized and as I was going back to my pew the register from the pipeless furnace came with me.
I remember a time after service having a picnic at St. Remus. It was in the seventies. It was interdenominational and bilingual. The lady beside me was saying the Lord’s Prayer in French and I was saying it in English. It was beautiful. I have many good memories of Britannia and am still learning and having many good times here. I have made many good friends. God touches me many times here.
It was 1974 and as I looked out over the country church in Southern Ontario, it was easy to notice strangers. My wife and I met with these strangers following the Service and talked about what they described as an exciting and alive church in Ottawa – a church without a normal church building, a church with a strong, social outreach program centered in Arkell House and a church which was trying new forms of Christian education with family Clusters. This was a church which excited me and which, when we accepted the invitation to move to Ottawa, proved to be as described. The strangers did not long remain strangers but proved to be part of a group of deeply spiritual people who, with us, sought the relevance of our Christian heritage in today’s world.
We had six great years at Britannia. These were years in which our children were nurtured in Sunday school, new forms of worship, family clusters and they grew in faith. Helen and I also grew spiritually and owe a great deal to the group of people who were part of the living body of Christ in the Britannia area.
I remember the generosity of the Arkell family, particularly Peggy Arkell who enabled us to add Arkell Hall to the building. The meetings and hard work which allowed ‘form to follow function’, created a facility which grew from a vision of the church.
I remember struggling with a congregational mission statement which affirmed that Christians are called to worship and express their faith in a variety of forms and we, as a congregation of people, were called to accept, support and help each to grow. Faith is a journey through life. Most of all I remember the people. To name any, would require that I name most of the congregation, because each in his or her own way added so much to the life of the church.
Since leaving Britannia, and partly because of the vision and support our family received at Britannia, we have continued on our journey of faith through life. I left the formal ministry and returned to engineering for which I had originally studied. After receiving additional education in Computer and Systems Engineering, I went to work for the federal government, where I still work. My wife Helen teaches, currently English as a Second Language. Our two oldest boys, Ian and Lorne, are both married, each with three children living in Port Alberni, British Columbia. Ian teaches high school and Lorne is in his glory working in the forests. Wade, the youngest, works with the Internet in Calgary.
This, the 125th anniversary, is a great celebration for Britannia. There are difficulties in being the Church today, and I know that you, who are the church at Britannia, have had your share of trial and tribulations. I also know that you have a great history, and that with an open and adventurous faith, you will meet the challenges of today and grow in faith in the future.
Thank you for this invitation and for the caring and Support you have shown us. Our prayer is that the Christ will continue to work through you as He has during these first one hundred and twenty-five years.
Frank McCowan with his wife and three children moved from Calgary to Ottawa in the summer of 1961. They settled in the West End of Ottawa midway between Woodroffe United Church and Britannia United Church. They visited Woodroffe United Church two Sundays in a row and had decided to join. However, for some reason they decided to visit Britannia one Sunday morning and liked the small intimate building, the friendly members and the minister Jim Perry.
They joined Britannia United Church that fall and soon became involved with the vibrant life of the church. Frank was asked to serve on the Session and did so for several years. He also taught Sunday School and eventually became Superintendent of the Sunday School during the years when services were being shared with St. Stephen’s Anglican Church. It was quite a challenge to coordinate all the classes in both facilities, making sure that we were finished and out of St. Stephen’s before the other congregation needed the building. Arkell House was also being used at the time for some of the classes.
It was a busy, fulfilling time in his life and he enjoyed working with the very dedicated teachers and caregivers.
Frank died on February 15, 1984, after a lengthy battle with cancer.
BRITANNIA DECIDED TO SPONSOR TWO VIETNAMESE FAMILIES
One family adopted by the Green Family
The story by Jean Green
In 1979, Britannia United Church decided to sponsor two Vietnamese families as part of Project 5000. Art and I talked it over and decided to take one family. We had two bedrooms and a bathroom on the lower level.
In November, we went to the bus depot to meet and pick up our new family: Thuy Quan 29, her brother Tri 16, and two cousins, Choung 16 and Tuan 15. Thuy had a degree in Biochemistry from a New South Wales University and was ‘mother’ to the boys. They had been in a Refugee Camp in Malaysia for 6 months.
Various members of Britannia United Church provided us with money each month to feed and clothe them. One extra was the need of eye glasses due to malnutrition. We enrolled the boys in Bell High School and soon they got work at Swiss Chalet. I had worked for Walter Baker during his election campaign, so I got in touch with his office and they were able to get a position for Thuy in the Laboratory at Ottawa University.
After nearly a year our Vietnamese family moved into an apartment in Bayshore. Members of Britannia United Church provided furniture, dishes and bed linen.
Thuy and the boys had lived a good life before the war in Vietnam. Thuy’s mother had been the Matron in a hospital. The father had been an Army Colonel and he had been killed. The other Quan adults had been doctors.
Eventually Thuy and the boys moved to Toronto and Thuy was able to buy a house. She sponsored her mother, a brother and his family and a sister. They all took whatever work was available until they could train and work in their profession.
I have kept in touch over the years and Thuy and Tuan have visited us. Thuy has recently started a new job and is very happy. Tri is married to a Vietnamese girl, they have two children and he works in computers. Choug had a nervous breakdown but is now recovering and has returned to school to update his skills. Tuan owns a Computer company with a friend. I spoke to him on the phone last week and he told me he had lost business due to the Japanese financial troubles. On a business trip to Asia, Tuan was able to see his mother and father for the first time since he left Vietnam. Tuan said it was due to the fact that he now has a Canadian passport.
This year, Thuy sent me a cheque to buy new hymn books in memory of Art – Thuy and the boys always called him Father. In the Vietnamese culture, the death day of a person is celebrated more than a birthday because a person has lived a life.
During a phone call, Tuan mentioned how often they speak of Britannia United Church and what a good start we all gave them and how thankful they are for the help. Tuan also said how much they appreciated the way we made them part of our family and remember how Art used to sit at the dining room table and help with their homework. Mealtime was when we practised English. I learned to cook some Vietnamese food and they learned to eat English food.
Hats off to Britannia United Church once more!
Our memories of Britannia United Church do not go back very far. When we moved to Ottawa in the early 1960’s, we saw the little white church at the intersection of Richmond and Carling, but we joined another west end United Church.
The purchase of a house in another part of Ottawa ensued and we transferred our membership to Riverside United where we stayed for many years. In 1984 my husband died and six years later I sold our home and moved back to the west end of Ottawa. I returned to the church that we had belonged to those thirty years before. I was a widow, by myself, and feeling very lonely indeed. I did not feel welcome there anymore. I saw no one I knew from before, so I only went to church a couple of times that summer.
In the fall, I decided to go to the United Church I had noticed on Pinecrest. It was near by and if I had to, I could walk. I did not know this church was the same one that used to be in the little white wooden structure, now gone, that had stood at the corner of Richmond and Carling.
When I came to this church I felt welcome and before long I knew several people and some who lived in the same apartment building, phoned me with offers of a ride to church. A breakthrough in making friends really occurred when I was asked to help at the bazaar. When one of my daughters returned to the west end with her family, the warmth and welcome encompassed them.
So although I have no bygone memories of Britannia, I have some treasured new ones. Thank you Britannia!
This was an intergenerational program carried out by Britannia Church for many years starting in 1973. For this program a ‘Family Unit’ was any person or group of persons living together. Four or five family units would be involved for a certain period of time, sharing learning experiences. Each group or cluster would choose its own theme, perhaps communications, rituals (Hallowe’en, Thanksgiving), exploring the area and other cultures.
This gave people a chance to grow in their ability to communicate, understand themselves and others. Times for singing, games and family sharing were included. Also a simple meal was shared together indoors or at parks.
The Dorcas Unit was originally part of the U.C.W., formed in 1960. Some Dorcas members were also in the Women’s Missionary Society. Our meetings included a worship period, discussions and sometimes speakers. We had lots of time for fellowship. We catered for many bazaars and other occasions. The kitchen in Arkell House was largely designed and furnished by the Dorcas Unit.
The proceeds from our offerings and catering activities went to the M & S Fund, the Building Fund Principal and the Heating and Insulation Fund.
Members in 1971 were 17 and members in 1982 were 27. Written for report in 1982 by Secretary Mina Brownhill.
My sister-in-law, Dianne Tupper, asked me to jot down a few memories and send them for the memory book that is being prepared for Britannia’s 125th celebrations. We are looking forward to being with you on the 25th.
My memories of Britannia Church are many, many, many. I was student minister from September 1970 to June 1974. Don French chaired the Christian Education Committee which hired me. Jim Hendry was the minister for most of the time I was there. Jim’s practical, every day Christianity was a source of great inspiration to me at that time, and continues to be so even today. We touch one another in lasting ways.
The 8:30 a.m. family service where all kinds of wonderful things were tried. In particular, a communion Sunday at which we all gathered around the table, like a family at dinner, and when we were finished the table looked as if the family had been home for dinner!
Chic LaGrave’s sense of humour more than once threatened to ‘undo’ me. For instance as I stepped out to receive the offering one Sunday, he said to me, ‘Your fly is undone!’ Not much I could do then … but it wasn’t! Chic was pulling my leg. Or the time he told me (again as he brought up the offering during the service) that I had more hair than his beloved cocker spaniel, Margie!
Some of the ‘firsts’ I did at Britannia – the first time I celebrated communion after ordination, my first baptisms – those ‘babies’ are now in their mid 20’s. The years go on.
Some of the ‘hard’ learnings about life in the church – that we didn’t always agree on things but that life could still go on.
The Thanksgiving weekend family camps we had at Mink Lake and the smell of turkey cooking in the autumn air.
The ‘Family Clusters’ which’ met together and grew to a deep understanding of family and faith.
The richness of relationships which continue to this day.
Britannia Church gave me many fine gifts which helped me to be a better person and a better minister. But best of all, Britannia Church was the place where I met my beloved, Dolwyn Collins, that gorgeous soprano in the choir. We were married at Britannia the 3rd of August, 1974, and that’s the best gift of all!
I was brought up in a church-going family, Mother & Dad, four boys and two girls. We all attended church services every Sunday. Dad was a steward and a member of the local school board. Mother was a member of the Ladies Aid Society and worked hard in every capacity of ladies’ work. As sports, card playing, etc. were not engaged in on Sundays, we all spent much time in church as members of the Young Peoples Group. My sister, Thelma, was church organist for several years. My oldest brother, Allan, was a tenor in our Britannia Church Choir but was soon to become a member of Chalmer’s Church choir in Ottawa where he became the head tenor. He sang at many church activities in the Ottawa area.
I was very fond of all sports and I recall a ball game held in Aylmer, Que., when the Britannia ball team was short a player so, even though I was underage, I was allowed to fill in. The biggest hit of the game was the score keeper as he started the game by announcing the line up. ‘Lillico’ at bat, ‘Lillico’ on deck, ‘Lillico’ in the hole and two more Lillicos in the line! Soon the crowd was assisting him as he introduced the batters. Our team won and it was lots of fun. Young Peoples events were well attended. Choir practice, Sunday School, church picnics and Thanksgiving dinners were happy occasions. My only problem was my inability to win the pie-eating prize, not from want of trying – just strong, hungry opposition!
As a choir member, I was untrained but eager. I would stand next to Mr. McDiarmid, an accomplished tenor with a strong voice and follow his lead from high notes to low notes as required. No one could hear me anyway! My two brothers Harry, Norm and I sat in the front pew with Mother & Dad (I guess the other three members of our family were in the choir). We three ‘sang like a Choir of Angels’ according to the Superintendent of the Sunday school. Mother was delighted, but we three boys never sat in the front pew again. You would find us in the back pew with our peers!
Every year our attendance at church was perfect and we would win a prize now and then. Once my prize was a New Testament, I was praying for a baseball or a hockey stick, so was disappointed in the response to my prayer!
I look back fondly to my time at Britannia Church and realize what a wonderful opportunity it was to be associated with the teachers and other students who were such an important part of our carefree growing up days. All in all church was fun!
Congratulations on your 125th anniversary. Although we will be unable to attend your celebrations, we hope that a good time is had by all. I still remember your 100th anniversary when we dressed up in period costume.
Bruce and I moved to Ottawa from Montreal following our marriage in 1970. We had planned to shop around for a church, but enjoyed Britannia so much that we signed up the very first Sunday. I joined the choir and was very embarrassed when the director, Audrey Foster, introduce me as a newlywed! It was there that I met Thelma Hodgins and her daughter Judy, who came to be great friends, and with whom I still keep in touch.
Although my main involvement was through the choir, Bruce and I did get ‘volunteered’ by May Jones to help organize a Halloween party at the church. I cut out pumpkins, bats and black cats to decorate the hall. After the party I took them home and they have decorated our windows on Halloween ever since.
When I was expecting my first child, the choir gave a baby shower for me and another choir member, Phoebe Toft, who was expecting her third. It was held at Jean Pallister’s home on Baseline Road. This was before the Pallister’s moved out to the country.
After my son was born, we transferred our membership to Bells Corners United Church which was closer to our new home. Once again, I joined the choir and was still able to keep in touch with Thelma, Judy, Jean and Phoebe through our involvement in the Bells Corners Ladies Choir. Two years after Scott’s birth, our daughter Cheryl was born.
In 1986, we moved to a bigger home in Kanata and transferred our membership to Kanata United Church. One year later, I became the church secretary there and continued in that position until 1995 when we moved to Belleville. Our church here, Bridge Street United, is an old-fashioned stone church with stained glass windows; it seats 1000 people!—quite a change from the small churches we have been used to. Its claim to fame is the pipe organ which has four manuals and over 2000 pipes.
I hope this will share some of our memories of Britannia United and bring you up to date on the Parker family. The ‘newlyweds’ have now been married for 22 years and the ‘babies’ are now 23 and 21 respectively.
We wish you all the best in the years to come.
Thanks to May Jones and the Ladies Auxiliary, we were the last couple to have our wedding catered to. It was a beautiful buffet served in the Sanctuary after the service.
Other fond memories are our days of C.G.I.T. in the Arkell House and the great picnics with races, food and song at Baxter’s farm near Kars (Bruce’s home town).
We came here in 1965 and joined Britannia United Church that same year. We had been at Woodroffe United and they had just built their large Church. They were reluctant to let us go but it was too handy – just around the corner to Britannia. I had six children to send to Sunday school.
I worked at the Grace Hospital part time, in those days of course, the weekends were mainly when I worked. The 9 a.m. service was just right for me. It started under Rev. Henley; Bob Root the student minister was mostly in charge. If I had worked nights I could just manage the 9 a.m. service before falling asleep. Later, when my young people were ready for the Sunday services, they greatly preferred the 9 a.m. to the more formal service.
I remember long-suffering Barry Thomas; the members were supposed to take a service and would come unprepared so he would have to take over. My son Joe did a service on N.S.A. Buddhism which we all found very interesting.
Barry Thomas was the minister when my husband died. I’ll never forget his patience as my six children decided how they wanted the funeral service conducted.
My son Joe was in the Chancel Players.
When I was a kid, I disliked Sunday school and church, and so I was very happy when my family moved to a new neighbourhood and the routine of being forced to go to church on Sunday seemed to die a natural death. Through the next few years my ideas of church became more firmly fixed and I knew as a fact that church was boring, tedious, and only for those who had nothing else to do with their time.
It was amazing how narrow-minded and judgmental an adolescent can be. Then Rev. Hendry came to Britannia United Church and he, with the student minister, Bob Root, started an alternative worship at Britannia that became known simply as the 8:30 service. My Mom, coming home from the night shift at the Grace Hospital, attended the first of these services. Who else but someone coming back from the graveyard shift would be up so early on a Sunday anyhow? Amazingly, there were other people at the service, many of them families with kids about my age. My Mom somehow convinced me and my brother Joe to go. She had a convincing argument. There were other kids our age at this service and all we did was sit around in a circle (a circle in church – unheard of) and talk, discuss issues and share ideas. It seemed harmless enough, so we went. And we stayed.
I cannot remember how many years the 8:30 service went on; it could have been one, two, or more, but I do remember what a difference it made in my life. It changed my opinions of church and churchgoers for one thing. Church was no longer for others but for us who were interested in getting involved, trying to make a difference, or at least become enlightened to what was going on in our community and the world.
I actually looked forward to going to church. I enjoyed it tremendously. I also became involved in the youth group at this time. We would meet in Arkell House and again have discussions on different subjects which each of us had a turn in choosing. Sylvia Williams and Al Barratt were our ‘leaders’ though they did not really lead; they just let our discussions follow a natural course and made suggestions when we were at a loss. Those were special times, with wonderful events like the haunted house at Arkell House, the annual sleigh ride, Christmas tree cutting and sale, the retreats at Pakenham and biking to Pakenham to camp out in Al Barratt’s backyard.
Our youth group grew up and started off to college or university or full-time jobs. I left Ottawa after university. I lived in Barcelona and Toronto, then went back to Barcelona. When I finally came back to live in Ottawa after about eight years, my ideas of church had slipped back a little to the ones I had as an adolescent. They were not quite so extreme but I certainly knew that church was not really what I wanted at this point in my life. One day, however, my Mom asked me if she could take my five year old Kim to church with her to attend Sunday school. I asked Kim and she was delighted. She told the neighbour, very proudly, that she was going to school every day of the week – five days to Kindergarten, Saturday to Spanish school and Sunday to Sunday School. She felt very important and grown up. So Kim started going to Britannia with my Mom. I, on the other hand, still knew that church was not what I wanted at this point in my life and steadfastly did not go. Then Daniel started to go with Mom and Kimberley and I still did not go. When Tessa was old enough to be envious of her two siblings going off with Grandma every week, I could no longer be so steadfast. I had to decide whether I wanted to let church be at least a small part of my life, or not let it be a part of any of our lives; at least, that is the way I felt. I had to decide. If it had not been for the wonderful memories of Britannia, I might have decided for the latter option. So, I became an admittedly reluctant participant in the church. Amazingly, it was not bad. After all, many of the people who went to the church were the same, wonderful people I had known in my youth and those I hadn’t known were also really nice. (What had I expected for Heaven’s sake?)
In my final year at Britannia, I would say that I was finally going to church, not because I felt I had to go for my children or for my mother, but I was going because it felt good to be there. Britannia felt the way it used to make me feel when I went during my teen years. it was a warm, generous place to be with people, to share moments of fellowship and share in the humanity for God. I am glad that people like Brenda Plamondon and Helen Hutchison were able to draw me back into the church.
I hope that I can find as good a church here in Aurora with as fine a group of people where my family and I can start new memories.
When I look back to my association with Britannia United Church, the first thing that comes to mind is my memories of Sunday school. I suppose I was five or six years old when I ‘sang’ in a trio with my two brothers, Harry and Lloyd. I recall this incident so well as it was my introduction to stage fright and I made a major blunder – in the eyes of my brothers – and ruined our careers as a singing group when I made a low bow at the beginning of our vocal rendition instead of at the end, as it had been well-rehearsed at home. I’m sure that ‘We Three Kings…’ had never drawn as many laughs before!
There were much better times ahead for me and my friends. Our teachers were great fun and made our classes interesting and happy. Mind you, it was not all easy going, and in my case, I had to worry about my father being in the Sunday school as Treasurer, and if he heard my name being mentioned by a teacher for unruly behaviour, I could expect to receive ‘just’ punishment when I returned home. The most painful to me was to have to call the teacher and apologize for my behaviour. It had a ‘calming’ effect on me in future classes but it never changed my views on Sunday school.
Most of my teachers were men, but there were several lady teachers during the first year or so. If I am not mistaken, they were Cora Honeywell and Tina Davidson. After that came men such as Frank Morgan and Keith Richardson, exceptional men, who made me appreciate their teaching and example in later times. Truth, honesty and respect for others were points they emphasized in our lessons. Frank went on to become the first person from Britannia United church to be received into the ministry, and Keith, regrettably, lost his life in Italy during W.W.II.
I doubt if anyone in the present congregation would recall Norm Ross. He took a different approach to teaching and would threaten us with dire punishment if we didn’t study our lesson or if we became too rowdy. Mr. Ross was very interested in sports and at every opportunity we would try to ‘lead’ him into a discussion about hockey or football. Little did I realize then that I would be faced with the same attempts by boys in my Sunday school class prompting me to relate war stories instead of following the lesson. I think I learned well from Mr. Ross. Of course, he had another recourse when dealing with us as boys. He would take the boys with the best attendance and attitude to see the Ottawa Rough Riders play football. What a reward!
Boys looked forward to advancing into senior class with Mr. Herdman, a very fine gentleman. As well as our being ‘top dogs’ in the Sunday school, we were entitled to certain privileges and duties – handing out leaflets, helping with collection and attendance records – but the ‘pièce de résistance’ was assisting the group in charge of the Church Picnic in Britannia Park, as well as the Christmas Concert. The latter was a most ‘painful task’ of filling bags with candies, nuts and fruits for the Christmas tree. There was never a shortage of volunteers for that job!
Sunday school was an introduction to church services, and we joined a group known as ‘Young Worshippers’. This gave us the doubtful honour of staying in church inthe front row until the singing of the second hymn.
The values we learned in this old white building helped mould our lives. All the boys in our class went into the Armed Services, if health permitted, some making the supreme sacrifice. The memory of these classmates will always remain with me.
I recently dropped in to visit Mrs. Fairholm and was told of ‘Britannia’s 125th Anniversary’ and that the committee was hoping for a paragraph or so from past and present members of the congregation. I live out of town now, but have many fond memories of ‘Britannia United Church’.
Those were the days when there were not a lot of organized activities for teenagers. ‘Hi-C’ provided a great venue for teens. The group drew a large mixture of youths from many areas of -the city and diverse walks of life. ‘Hi-C’ enabled us to do ‘religion’ in our way. We enjoyed meeting with our peers in the Arkell House basement as well as taking turns doing the program on Sunday mornings. The group gave us a sense of responsibility and a chance to believe in ourselves. It also helped provide us with the skills we would need to put on one or two church services a year. We so looked forward to it and even the better part of the early service members enjoyed our final result. The church group challenged us with responsibility and we gained self-respect as a result.
Sylvia Williams was a brick to the teenagers of the church. What a marvellous person! She provided the group with a guiding hand and fostered a sense of camaraderie and understanding between us. She even opened her house for extra study sessions. She certainly opened her heart to all of us.
This group got to be involved in wholesome activities and enjoyed good clean fun. I remember our ‘Hi-C’ group having a ‘coffee house’ on Friday nights in the Arkell house basement. This was a great place for teens to get together and enjoy each other’s company while listening to those members who were musically inclined.
Sunday afternoons in the fall we would often play touch football in the park. Other times we planned our own Halloween party, since most of us were too old to go out ‘trick or treating’. At Christmas time, we sold Christmas trees that we had previously gone and cut as a church fund- raiser. We also skated together on the world’s longest skating rink, the Rideau Canal. ‘Hi-C’ even started the square dance group called ‘The Teen Twirlers’. We were also fortunate enough to be able to participate in weekend trips to the Pakenham Retreat. Another event that the ‘Hi-C’ group participated in was a ‘Starve-in’ where members of our group were sponsored to go without food for twenty-four hours. This was our way of collecting money for those in need. Sylvia Williams once again took the helm and helped us understand that over and above not having food for twenty-four hours we were still so much more fortunate than the ones we were trying to help. ‘Britannia United Church’ was a great help during the turbulent teenage years when kids try to find themselves but need a safe place where they can grow.
I actually called my brother Gregory while writing this article and we had a marvellous time discussing the good old days in ‘Hi-C’. We’re embarrassed to say we couldn’t remember the name of that young high school teacher who used to help out, but please know that his presence i5 remembered as well. We both felt that if it wasn’t for ‘Hi-C’ we would never have become involved in the church at that point in our life. Neither my brother nor I could remember our exact ages when we attended the church group but we know it was in the early seventies. In closing, I’d like to say ‘Hi’ to any of the former members of the ‘Hi-C’ group of Britannia United Church.