White Church, Drummond Township

Drummond Centre Church

(also known as White Church)

With transportation being so quick and easy in the modern world it’s difficult for us to imagine that the early pioneer settlers often had to walk from place to place, as not everyone was fortunate enough to own a horse and buggy. They walked to obtain dry goods for cooking and baking, they walked from farm to farm for social events, birthday celebrations, and to visit with neighbours. They also walked to the closest church so they could carry on with the religious practices and beliefs that they brought with them from the old country.

There was a growing group of mostly Scottish, mostly Presbyterian pioneers who had settled in the Drummond Centre area, and in the early days, many of this hardy lot had to walk to Perth to attend church at Knox Presbyterian Church. While walking to Perth was not as much of a difficulty for the younger and healthier members of the community, it was not the case for the elderly, or those who were in the later stages of expecting a child, or for anyone for whatever reason was not physically capable of walking that far. Some of the more prosperous farmers went to Perth on horseback, and a smaller number, more affluent, used horse and buggy, or horse and cutter in the winter.

Duncan McLaren

Duncan McLaren, a respected member of the Presbyterian community, and an Elder at Knox Church, in Perth, was chosen by members of the congregation from Drummond Centre, to visit the Presbytery in Brockville. They were the body responsible for administering the churches in their region. His request was for permission for the people in Drummond Centre to be able to establish a branch of the Presbyterian Church right in their own community.

First Service in 1881

While two mission ‘fields’ were granted in 1877, one at Balderson, and one at Drummond Centre, it was not until 1881 that the new Drummond Centre Presbyterian Church was built and opened. The church was built on the East half of Lot 17, on Concession 8, of Drummond Township. James Stewart sold a quarter acre of land to the church for the sum of one dollar. The deed was signed by Adam Armstrong, James Shaw, and Henry McDonald.

Anniversary Services were held in the fall of 1920:

Drummond Centre

United Church

In 1925, with the amalgamation of some of the Presbyterian, Methodist, and United Churches, the Drummond Centre Presbyterian Church became part of the United Church of Canada.

50th Anniversary

On October 26th, 1931, Drummond Centre United Church celebrated their 50th anniversary. An article from “The Perth Courier” provides details of the event, and gives the reader an insight into those times, so long ago:

(transcribed from “The Perth Courier”, October 30, 1931, p. 1)

“This important and most unique event in connection with the Drummond Centre United Church was solemnized and duly celebrated upon Sabbath, October 26th, 1931. Special anniversary services were held morning and evening, the speaker for the day being the minister of the church, rev. Thomas McNaught, B.D., of Balderson.  The church was filled to an overflowing capacity at both services, as many former members were present and friends from neighboring communities.  Beautiful fall weather prevailed.

“The church was filled to an overflowing capacity at both services, as many former members were present and friends from neighboring communities. Beautiful fall weather prevailed.”

In the morning the service of Praise was in charge of members from St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church choir, Perth, consisting of aquartetto, Messrs. Dodds, Steele, Howie, and Kerr.  Mrs. Kerr presided at the organ.  They were assisted by members from the Balderson and Prestonvale choir.  Mr. Fred Steele sang a most appropriate solo, ‘Building for Eternity’ which was listened to not only with a sense of joy but of spiritual profit.  Then the quartette rendered in a most soul stirring manner that beautiful piece entitled, ‘Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me’. Rev. Mr. McNaught spoke from the text found in 1st Cor. 4:18 and in the words of this text and throughout his sermon he sought not only to show the vast different between the temperal and the spiritual – the transient and the eternal but urged upon his hearers to build upon the eternal verities of the Eternal God and His eternal truth and not to forget the spiritual welfare of their inner and higher life that man cannot live by bread alone but by every word that proceeded out of the mouth of God.

“Mrs. Kerr presided at the organ. They were assisted by members from the Balderson and Prestonvale choirs.”

At the close of the service Mr. McNaught in a few well chosen words thanked the friends from Perth who had taken charge of the service of praise and who had brought such inspiring and helpful messages through the medium of service song. He also expressed the congregation’s thanks to the members of the Balderson and Prestonvale choirs who had assisted.

In the evening a still larger congregation was present.  The service of Praise was in charge of the Prestonvale choir.  This fine choir was out in full strength and was greatly helped by friends from Perth.

This splended choir led the congregation in its singing a solo, ‘When I Survey the Wondrous Cross’, sung by Mr. Rodney.  All listened to it with deep appreciation and a feeling that it brought a wonderful message to all the worshippers assembled. Then a quartette was rendered by Messrs. Reid, McLaren, Rodney and Couch, the selection being, ‘Rock of Ages’, and later the entire choir sang an anthem conveying the old Gospel message in sacred song.  At the close of the evening service Mr. McNaughton thanked the Prestonvale choir and organist and the friends from Perth who had assisted them in the name of the congregation assuring them of their sincere thanks and appreciation.

“Before closing the evening service he asked all present to stand who were present fifty years ago at the opening and dedication of the church. Only seven were present who witnessed the opening and dedication of the church.”

Mr. McNaught’s message was entitled, “The Call of Christ”, basing his sermon upon Christ’s words, ‘Follow Me’, recorded in St. Matthew 4:19.  His message was a call for all to hear Christ’s call for Christian service and to surrender their all to Him.  Before closing the evening service he asked all present to stand who were present fifty years ago at the opening and dedication of the church.  Only seven were present who witnessed the opening and dedication of the church.”

“On Monday evening a social time was spent together in the Orange Hall.”

(the L.O.L. # 7 Orange Lodge, one of the earliest established in the country, was located near the church)

“On Monday evening a social time was spent together in the Orange Hall, the hall being put at the disposal of the Church by the local Orangemen for the evening gratuitously which was greatly appreciated by the congregation.  There was a large turnout and a fine mixed program was gone through and listened to with much enjoyment and also profit.  Some young people from Carleton Place put on very effectively a pantomime entitled, ‘The Lamp Went Out’.  Miss Anderson sang beautifully a solo while Miss Brunton of Balderson was the elocutionist of the evening and was heard several times through the evening with great delight to all.

The school children of Drummond Centre under the leadership of Mr. Devy of Perth, put on several numbers which were greatly enjoyed.  Then a beautiful drill was gone through in a faultless manner by the girls of the school under the guidance of their teacher Mrs. Horrocks.

“After this, refreshments were served and an enjoyable social time was spent by all.”

The speeches for the evening were three – Rev. Mr. Livesay, returned missionary from Korea brought a wonderful message telling in vivid language the work of the Church in Korea. He was followed by Rev. Dr. James Semple of Smiths Falls and as chairman of the Renfrew Presbytery brought the Presbytery’s greetings to the congregation upon this the occasion of their golden jubilee.  He too brought a wonderful message urging upon the congregation to ever emphasize the essential things of our Christian faith. He referred to the very fine friendship existing between him and their pastor, Mr. McNaught – that not only were they college chums but had graduated the same year.  Inspector T.C. Smith, M.A. was also heard in a short address of congratulations to minister and people and a few words of Christian counsel. Mr. McNaught was chairman and welcomed all present.  The first part of the evening was brought to a close by the chairman thanking all in the name of the congregation who had assisted in the program and by the entire audience rising and singing the National Anthem. After this, refreshments were served and an enjoyable social time was spent by all.

Church History

Some details of the rich history of the church were also provided in the article from, “The Perth Courier”, dated October 30, 1931:

“A brief history of this congregation might be interesting.  Drummond Centre community was largely settled by pioneers from Scotland over 100 years ago – their spiritual interests were not forgotten and they realized the need of God in their lives.  The following extract was read and prepared by the late Mr. James Shaw at the 40th Anniversary and taken from a local paper, October 14th, 1920:

“In the pioneer days in Drummond Township many of the earlier settlers had to drive a considerable distance to Knox Church, Perth.  As many of these settlers had come from Scotland, a land where the ordinances of divine grace were faithfully attended, the people felt they must have in their own community some visible sign of Jehovah’s presence.  To this end Mr. Duncan McLaren, an elder of Knox Church, Perth, was chosen to appeal to the Brockville Presbytery for permission to form a congregation.  After some discussion Presbytery granted the request and steps were taken to form a congregation in connection with Balderson, an outshot from St. Andrew’s, Perth.

“As many of these settlers had come from Scotland, a land where the ordinances of divine grace were faithfully attended…”

In 1877, mission fields were formed in the congregations with Mr. J.K. Baillie as the first missionary, who remained among us for two summers. Mr. Baillie was followed by Mr. John Geddes, who labored for a year and a half, after which he returned to Scotland.

The two missions were established as one congregation in the summer of 1880 and called Rev. J.G. Stuart as minister, who was inducted into the charge in October, 1880. His salary was $400 supplemented by $200 from the Mission Board.  During his ministry of over nine years he endeared himself to the congregation especially in the Sabbath School and among the young.  In December 1889, he resigned, being called to St. Mark’s Church, Toronto.

Then a few months afterwards a call was extended to Rev. J.S. McIlraith, of Montreal College and in the spring of 1890 he was inducted.  He labored amongst us for almost twenty-one years doing faithful work especially visiting the sick and the aged.  He resigned in the summer of 1911 and was followed by Rev. J.G. Greig.

Rev. J.G. Greig was inducted in the autumn of 1911 and ministered to us almost eight years.  He too gave us faithful and practical sermons which if we lived out in our daily lives would make us more Christlike in character.  In the autumn of 1919 Mr. Greig accepted a call to Valleyfield, Quebec.  At the close of his ministry the missionary givings amounted to $1,722.00 and the minister’s stipend to $1,400.00, there having been a gradual increase in the givings from the congregation to the present date.  After being several months without a settled minister a call was extended to Rev. G.C. Treanor and accepted trusting that the ministry will be as successful as those who preceded him.

“He too gave us faithful and practical sermons which if we lived out in our daily lives would make us more Christlike in character.”

In the fall of 1922 Mr. Treanor resigned, having accepted a call to Arthur and Goodville in the Saugeen Presbytery.

In March, 1923, a unanimous call was given to Rev. R.A. McRae, B.A., a recent graduate of the Montreal Presbyterian College.  He was ordained and inducted in the Balderson Church in March 1923.  He did faithful and conscientious work, and resigned in 1927, and is now laboring at Minden, Ontario.  During his pastorate the charge passed into the United Church.

In 1925, the Drummond Centre Presbyterian Church became part of the United Church of Canada, and so, was re-named, the Drummond Centre United Church.

(The United Church of Canada was formed 10 June 1925 by the union of some, but not all, of the Presbyterian Churches in Canada, with the Methodist Church, the Congregational Churches of Canada, and the General Council of Local Union Churches.)

“Rev. C.M. Currie, M.A., B.D., then became pastor having received a call and did faithful work until he resigned in the year 1930 in order that he might pursue a post graduate course in New College, Edinburgh, Scotland, for his Ph.D. degree.  Before leaving for Scotland he was married to Miss Edith McTavish, of Balderson.  Recently, he has been called and accepted same to be assistant minister of Connorgate Church, Edinburgh, Scotland.  In the summer of 1930, Rev. Thomas McNaught, B.D., of White Lake, became pastor pursuant to an unanimous call being extended to him and he was inducted on the evening of July 4th, 1930.

“The organizers of the Church in Drummond were: Duncan McLaren, James Shaw, and James Stewart.”

A few items might be interesting re the Drummond Centre Church.  The organizers of the Church in Drummond were Messrs. Duncan McLaren, James Shaw, and James Stewart.  Mrs. Stewart deeded the land for the church.  Rev. Wm. Burns of Knox Church, Perth, conducted the opening services and preached. The first preacher in the church was the late Mr. Adam Young, followed by the late Mr. John Hillis, who was followed by the late Mrs. Wesley Clarke and he in turn was succeeded by Mr. D.A. McLaren and later by Mr. Wm. McFarlane, now of Prestonvale.

The elders now at Drummond are Messrs. Wm. McLaren, Dan Malloch, J.B. Miller and Wilbert Lewis, and the Managers are Messrs. Homer Shaw, James McLaren and John McNaughton.”

Rev. Thomas McNaught

Minister at Drummond Centre United Church, beginning in 1930

Anniversary Services

Oct. 7, 1932, p. 5, “The Perth Courier”

Mother’s Day Service

In the spring of 1933, a special Mother’s Day Service was held at Drummond Centre United Church:

“Miss (Mary) Malloch some time ago received a Bible from her pastor for having recited correctly at one sitting the entire 119th Psalm.”

May 19, 1933, p. 1, “The Perth Courier”

Church Closes

The Drummond Centre United Church closed its doors in 1951, and the remaining members of the congregation joined either St. Paul’s United Church, in Perth, ontario, or the United Chuch at Boyd’s Settlement.

Church Sold

After the church closed, the building and land was sold to a Mr. Probert, from Carleton Place, Ontario. Mr. Probert owned the property for 21 years, then sold it in 1971 to Clifford Ebbs, who moved the building a short distance south on Gardiner Road to a building lot.

(This is the house directly across Gardner Rd from the E. corner of the Drummond Center Community Cemetery)

The church was sold to Keith Mordy in 1973, and the building was converted to a duplex.

The Cemetery

Along with the land donated by James Stewart for the church, James McLaren donated land for a ‘burying ground’, nearby, which is now called the Drummond Centre Community Cemetery.

This cemetery was used as a ‘burying ground’, from as early as the late 1820s or early 1830s. In November 26, 1858, he property was transferred by James and his wife, Christina McLaren, to the Trustees on behalf of the Presbyterian Church of Canada.

The connection to the Presbyterian Church was severed in May 1895, and it became a “community” cemetery, with the first community trustees being James and his wife, Janet Stewart, John Malloch, and James Shaw.

(Note: descendants of the same families continue to serve as trustees today.)

Surnames in the cemetery: 


Orange Lodge L.O.L. # 7

One of the earliest lodges of the Protestant group, the Orange Order, was built close to the church, and the space was often donated by the Lodge for use by the church members for their clubs, and activities. The land was ‘sold’ to the Loyal Orange Order in 1903, by Nathaniel Caswell for $1.00.


…..And so today, we wonder why the little white church on Gardiner Road closed in 1951? Was it because the community was more mobile, with access to automobiles, and they preferred to attend a larger more stately church, like St. Paul’s United, in Perth? Did the maintenance become too expensive on the small church built so many years before? Could it be that an old church lacked a good heating system for those cold winter days in Eastern Ontario, or adequate cooling on the equally hot and humid dog-days of summer?

There is no longer any sign of the Orange Hall, #7 L.O.L, that served the members of the community in those early days. The members from that old lodge eventually joined another nearby.

The cemetery remains, and the names on the oldest stones tell a story of those early Scottish pioneers who settled in Drummond Centre. In an unbroken chain of loyalty and sense of duty, descendants of those original stewards of the cemetery still maintain it to this day, walking the grounds where their ancestors walked, guarding the memories of the little white church and its people, who came to this pretty community, so long ago.

Arlene Stafford-Wilson

Member, Association of Professional Genealogists

Member, Lanark County Genealogical Society

Author of : “Lanark County Christmas”, “Lanark County Comfort”, “Lanark County Collection”, “Lanark County Calling”, “Lanark County Classics”, “Lanark County Connections”, “Lanark County Calendar”, “Lanark County Chronicle”, “Lanark County Kid”, & “Recipes & Recollections”

available at local stores or email: lanarkcountybooks@gmail.com


2 comments on “White Church, Drummond Township

  1. Peter Iveson iveson says:

    we use to go through Drummond Cener on old highway 7,never remember a church there.Nice history.

  2. Jackie Wharton says:

    An interesting story about the life of the White Church – and its demise.

    I’m still catching up with emails since I can now read the computer with no glasses.

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