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The United Empire Loyalist Settlement at Long Point, Lake Erie
Chapter XXII. The Preaching of the Gospel

Until the year 1800 there were very few churches in Upper Canada; and the people were dependent on one of their own number to conduct service, in a settler’s cabin or under the forest trees. A letter of Hon. Peter Russell to the Anglican bishop of Quebec (22nd June, 1796), gives a very accurate view of the state of religious organization in Upper Canada at that time. “There are no churches west of Kingston, a circumstance disgraceful to the inhabitants, and only to be apologized for by their hard struggles and want of proper clergymen. Of the £1,000 voted by Parliament, I suggest that £500 be used in building a handsome church at York, and when the inhabitants of New Johnstown (in Eastern District), Newark and Sandwich appear disposed to raise subscriptions for their respective churches, let £100 be given to Newark and £200 to each of the other two. I have appointed Rev. Mr. Addison to Newark.”

The Bishop of Quebec approved of the appointment of Addison, and decided that he be one of four to receive a salary (£100). Rev. Mr. Addison had, however, other sources of income, for a minute of the Council of Newark (August 14th, 1797) reads: “Resolved that the salt springs at the Fifteen-mile Creek be leased to the Rev. Mr. Addison at a rent of 5s. currency, for such time as he shall continue to officiate as a clergyman of the Church of England at Newark.”

Rev. Mr. Addison was given grants of land in various places, among them 400 acres (lots 1 and 10, third concession) in Walsingham.


For thirty years after the foundation of the settlement, until the arrival of the Rev. Mr. Evans in 1824, the colonists who adhered to the faith of the English Church had no regular minister. There was no clergyman nearer than Niagara, a hundred miles distant, and a blaze through the trees constituted the only road to that centre of advancement and civilization.

Captain Samuel Ryerse was accustomed to read the church service every Sunday to his household, and to any who might wish to listen with them.

Subsequently Mr. Bostwick, who was the son of a clergyman, used to read the service and sometimes a sermon. But very few copies of sermons were to be obtained, for, indeed, but few copies of any books existed among the settlers, and after reading over several times the “stock in hand” they naturally lost their interest.

The first visit of a bona fide minister of the Episcopal faith to Norfolk County occurred in 1805, when the Rev. Mr. Addison, the only clergyman in Western Ontario, came by request from Niagara to baptize the children who had been born on the settlement, for so far there had been no regularly authorized licentiate to perform that ceremony. It was a long-to-be-remembered event, and many of the people broke out into a passion of tears as they listened, in some cases, the first time for eleven years, to the voice of a regularly ordained minister. It was surely an affecting scene, and brings home to our minds one of those trials which the Loyalists had to undergo, and which is but seldom thought of, namely, their enforced deprivation of religious instruction.


In 1798 Elder Titus Finch came to Long Point and became the leader of the Baptists of that district. For many years they had no church, and so Elder Finch travelled around and held service on the Sabbath at various points in the settlement. The houses of the settlers were not often large enough to accommodate those who assembled, and frequently on summer days the service was held in an open glade of the forest, the murmur of the breeze forming a sweet accompaniment, which in its calm and heavenly influence wafted their thoughts to the Creator of the universe. In 1804 the community of Baptists was organized, and about 1810 their church was erected, a commodious and substantial building.


The founder of the first Presbyterian church of Norfolk County was the Rev. Jabez Culver. He was a regularly ordained minister in New Jersey, and on coming to the Long Point settlement in 1794, held service every Sabbath in his own house. In 1806 the Presbyterians were organized into a church community, with the Rev. Jabez Culver as their regularly appointed pastor. This was known as the old “Windham Church,” and continued till the death of Mr. Culver in 1819. Then it was dissolved, but being reorganized later, became a flourishing and important body.


This denomination was, as usual, one of the very first to establish its organization in the new country. It is said that the Presbyterians have the congregation first, and the church afterwards; but the Methodists the church first and the congregation afterwards. The Methodist body had two chapels in this county before the first Presbyterian church was built.

The first recognized Methodist minister was the Rev. Daniel Freeman, who, though not ordained by the Methodist Episcopal Church until he had been some years in the Long Point district, nevertheless conducted regular service, and most of the young people of the community joined his church. This was called the “Woodhouse Methodist Church,” on the identical site of which the third Woodhouse Methodist Church now stands.

All honor to these early ministers of the dissenting bodies, for though they were unlearned, and sometimes uncouth in speech, their lives proved their sincerity. They bore cheerfully every privation, and preached in every place where they could get a hearing. Nor can any one charge them with doing this, to be supported by the other members of the community, for even “after many years” the regular stipend for a married man was only $200, and half that sum for a single man. Nor was this always paid in cash, but the greater part of it made up in the produce of the land, or in the coarse linen or woollen garments which were the product of the house looms.

There were no Roman Catholics in the neighborhood until after 1825.

Such was the state of religious instruction in the Long Point Settlement in the early days.

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