As late summer turns to fall each year, I am reminded of the pretty little church on the hill, not far from DeWitt’s Corners. It was on a bright September morning in 1896, that the very first service was held at Calvin United Church.
It seems only fitting, in this photo of my niece Meaghan, that she and her husband, Sean Christie, are standing in front of the building where her parents Judy Stafford and Jim Ryan were married on the 21st of May, 1966.
It is the same church where her grandmother Audry Stafford brought me, and my four siblings each Sunday, when we were children.
Calvin United Church was built on the property of Mr. John Cameron. The first elected officers in the church were Andrew Gamble, William Scott, Andrew Palmer, George Miller, Andrew B. Miller, Andrew W. Miller, W.J. Palmer, John Jordan, Nichol Stewart, Alex Palmer and Sydney Miller.
There is a Roll of Honour for the brave veterans of Calvin United Church who served their country so faithfully, during times of war: Lloyd Henry Cameron, Helen Muriel Jordan, Hugh Boyd McLellan, John Grey Palmer, Harold Earl Radford, James Stewart Scott, Earl Alexander Tysick, Edwin Cecil Popplewell, John Ernest Miller, Donald Edwin Jordan, George Bertram Fyfe, Kenneth Arthur Kirkham, George Elwood Palmer, Howard William Radford, John Adam Scott, Andrew William Stewart, Raymond McIntosh Blackburn, Andrew Gordon Miller, William Arthur Stewart.
In September 1936 Calvin United Church celebrated their 40th Anniversary:
In 1979 Calvin Jordan was presented with an award for serving the church for over half a century. The award was presented by Charlie Patton and Alan Jordan for his outstanding service.
Although because of the times, men held the offices in the church, women have also played an important role going back to 1894 with the ‘Ladies’ Aid’.
Calvin Church Lawn Social, ‘The Perth Courier’, June 25, 1915, p.5
Later, there was a ‘Women’s Mission Society’, and even later the U.C.W., or United Church Women. In 1962 the younger women formed the Calvinettes.
Some of the dedicated women of the ladies’ auxiliaries over the years were: Lillian Cameron, Ethel Scott, Ethel Korry, Jean Korry, Mae Miller, Bertha Stewart, Edith Miller, Mary Miller and Mabel Palmer, Marge Cook, Wilma (Scott) Peckett, Eleanor Conboy, Jean Jordan, Audry Stafford, Ona Closs, Maxine Jordan, Mabel Palmer, Isobel Cameron, Frances Dixon, Betty Johnston, Wilma Munro, Mary Jordan, Betty Miller, Margery Conboy, Kathy Patton, Marion Majaury, Doris Popplewell, Agnes Stiller, and Carmel Jordan to name a few.
Many ministers have served at Calvin United Church over the years, offering spiritual guidance, sharing in the joys of baptisms, officiating at weddings, and offering comfort at the funerals of loved ones.
Calvin United Church has a rich history, and a steadfast presence in the community for over a century. It’s a short drive from Perth out the Third Line to DeWitt’s Corners, turn right onto the Cameron Side Road, and a quick drive up the picturesque country road.
If you are visiting the area, stop by, and feel the sense of history, and of the generations who have passed before you, in this pretty church on the hill.
photos: “Calvin United Church 90th Anniversary” & “Calvin United Church Bathurst 100th Anniversary 1896-1996”