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Fifty Years Old at 1946: A History of Shallow Lake United Church

Congregation to celebrate Golden Jubilee with Special Services

— Brief History of Church and Congregation —

On Sunday the congregation of the Shallow Lake United Church will celebrate its golden jubilee, or in other words, its 50th Anniversary.  This is an event which has been eagerly looked forward to by the pastor, officials, and members and adherents, and special services will be held to mark the occasion. 

Only a very few of the early settlers who made their home in Shallow Lake half a century ago remain to mark his event, but it is worthy of note that the third and fourth generations are faithfully carrying on the work of thee church.  It was originally a Methodist church, but became a unit in the United Church of Canada in 1925, following the adoption of church union at the memorable conference held in Toronto.  While the men of the congregation have been most faithful in their responsibilities in connection with the management of the church, a great deal of the credit for the successes achieved must be given to the Sunday School and the Women’s Association, which organizations valiantly supported the work in all its phases.  There are ambitious plans for the future, and the church will long continue to rank as one of the leading institutions of the Village.

Site Purchased:

According to the records the first start toward the establishment of a Methodist  church in Shallow Lake was made on November 29, 1894, when a half acre of land was purchased from James Cruickshank and Albert McInnis for $45.  The deed was drawn up by Robert Halls, of Hepworth, and witnessed by Michael Seigrist, of Shallow Lake.  The trustees signing the deed for the congregation were:  James Budd, Henry Arthrell, Robert Simpson, George Cragg, Sr., Richard Smith, Robert Murdock and T. J. Mutort. 

These men went to work with a will to erect the new church on the site on the main street, and a record of the first to contribute was kept.  They were:  Robert Murdock, George Cragg, Sr., Benjamin Smith, James Chapman, Parkinson & Son, Irwin Groh, Henry Arthrell, Robert Simpson, James Arnett, John Munro, Stephen Spencer, Robert Moore, John Lidsten, James Snowball, Thomas Ellis, Joseph Schwoob, John Seigrist, William Benedick and B. Arnett.

Open for Service:

In August, 1896, the new church was ready for service, with Rev. H. J. Harnwell as pastor, who remained until 1898.  The pastorate was organized with Mt. Horeb and Ottewell until 1911, when Shouldice was added to the circuit, with Rev. J. L. Cavers as minister.  There is no early record of the first organist, but it is believed to have been Mrs. Grant.

Until 1914 the charge had been served with students, who stayed only a year or two at a time.  Among these were Rev. Judson Truax, Rev. J. A. Doyle, Rev. S. Laidman, Rev. D. Walker, Rev. Lloyd, Rev. Cooper, Rev. C. Holmes, Rev. A. J. Elson, Rev. A. O. W. Foreman, Rev. J. S. Cavers, Rev. C. T. Meek, and Rev. Copp. The other ministers remaining for three or four years were:  Rev. Robert Woulds, Rev. T. W. Hazelwood, Rev. Robert Magill, Rev. B. E. Newnham, Rev. W. A. Matthews, Rev. W. H. Bartlett, the latter coming at the time of the  church union in 1925; Rev. W. F. Roach, Rev. C. B. Wooley, Rev. W. J. Copsey, and Rev. A. E. Millen and the present minister since 1942, Rev. Frank Sullivan.  

The first record of a Secretary Treasurer showed George Cragg, Sr., who remained in office until 1918.  He was followed by Alfred Andrews, who remained until 1923, and since that time W. B. Rydall has held that office.

In 1920 the Ottewell charge was discontinued, going in with Wiarton, and in 1931 t. Horeb and Shouldice transferred to Owen Sound and Wiarton pastorates, and a new pastoral charge was organized with Hepworth and Zion-Amabel, when the Minister became a resident of Hepworth.  

In 1935 a porch was built on the front of the church, adding beauty to the structure.  This was paid for by the willingness of the Women’s Association, who raised the money by quilting, and it became a common saying, “the porch was quilted onto the church”.

Present Board:

The present board consists of:  Elders:  W. J. Lemon, W. White, W. B. Rydall, N. A. Cruickshank, Roy Speers and B. Featherstone.   Trustees:  W. J. Shouldice, Ralph Noble, Charles Barfoot, Willis Spencer and Alvey Barfoot.  Organist:   Mrs. A. C. Dymott.

A sum of money was left to the church by Mr. Blythe, and electric lights were installed in 1938.

Shallow Lake United Church sign
Shallow Lake United Church sign


The present Church building was constructed in 1983 on the site where the former Presbyterian Church stood and which had been used as a Church Hall. Pictures of the old Methodist and Presbyterian Churches are to be found outside the Minister’s study.

The Minister in Shallow Lake at the time of the building of the new Church was Rev. Larry Marshall. It was also during his pastorate here that Shallow Lake became a one-point charge. Hepworth, Zion-Amabel is now a separate charge in Bruce Presbytery of the Hamilton Conference.   

Many of the congregation left the United Church in 1988 and joined with others to form the Shallow Lake Community Church under the leadership of Rev. Roy Cowieson, who also left the United Church at that time. They proceeded to erect another large Church on Highway 70 (now Hwy. 6) on the south edge of the Village of Shallow Lake.

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