In the year 1894 a few early pioneers and settlers, because of their strong faith and love of God, had a desire to build a church. Accordingly, a piece of property – part of Lot 21, Concession 2, South Centre Diagonal, Township of Keppel – was purchased for $28.00. Through prayer, sacrifice and perseverance these ambitious pioneers erected Knox Presbyterian Church, Shallow Lake.
Records are not available for the first few years, but in January 1899 a Ladies Association had already been formed with eleven members. They had a balance on hand of $1.30. It is interesting to note new members for the Association were proposed and voted upon; if the vote was unanimous the applicant’s name was duly entered on the membership role.
Without modern conveniences as we know them the Association worked together raising money for the improvement of their church. That same year the Association decided a new porch was needed for the front of the church. Tenders were called, one tender was received for $25.00 the porch was built. A proposal was also made to improve the interior of the church by painting it with lime. This did not materialize, the interior was papered, new carpet and matting were purchased. The old carpet was sold for 75 cents.
These industrious ladies were never idle. They planned strawberry teas, (Admission – 15 cents and 10 cents): Irish suppers, (Admission – 25 cents and 15 cents). In 1908 a fowl supper was held for which they prepared and used 60 chickens, (Admission – 25 cents and 15 cents). Proceeds were $73.32.
Does the present generation realize what the planning and preparation of the church supper meant in those days? Did they just turn a tap for hot or cold water, turn a switch to roast the fowl and do the baking, did light come with a flick of a switch? Oh, no! Wood stoves with ovens were used. Those old-fashioned kitchens must have been extremely hot by the time the fowl was roasted and the baking completed. Arrangements had to be made to have boys carry water from the nearest well, the boys who did this received a free supper. Up until this time all church suppers were held in the village hall – (Noble’s Hall).
In 1895 a twelve branch chandelier with coal oil lamps was installed and used until 1938 when the building was wired for electricity. In 1971 it was donated to the Grey County-Owen Sound Museum by the Shallow Lake united Church Board.
An interesting event was planned in 1910 which took the form of a garden party held in front of the church where tables were arranged and a stand set up at which candy, oranges, bananas and ten gallons of ice-cream were sold – Proceeds - $33.00. The program was held in the church shed at the back of the church. Ladies who helped serve, paid for their meal but received a free dish of ice-cream.
Each year, from its beginning until the church closed, socials, teas and suppers, etc. were held. Proceeds from all these events were used as contributions to the building fund, improvements to the church and donations to the managers of the manse fund. It is recorded that in 1916 a new organ was purchased for $115.00; the old one was sold for $15.00. The organist was paid $25.00 per year, which included her duties as choir leader. About this time the Ladies Association sponsored a young men’s football (soccer) team.
It was not all work and no play. Each summer the Methodist Ladies Aid and Presbyterian Ladies Association joined in arranging an annual picnic at Sauble Beach. They didn’t travel by car, but with horse and buggy or team and democrat. Later they travelled in a truck which was locally owned.
Times were changing, the population of the village was decreasing and financial obligations of the church were rising. Both Methodist and Presbyterian congregations came to realize that two churches and two ministers could not be maintained.
In 1925 when Church Union came into effect, with much contemplation and prayer the two churches joined to become: “Shallow Lake United Church.” The meeting place was the former Methodist Church. There is no record of any ill-feeling during the transition. Four month previous to this the two Sunday Schools had combined. The combined ladies organization became: “Shallow Lake United Church Women”.
The Presbyterian Church became the property of Grey Presbytery who renamed it: “Community Church Hall.” All forms of entertainment were allowed, but the building was to be sacredly kept in honour of the purpose for which it was erected by its founders. Cards and dancing were forbidden.
The building was maintained by Shallow Lake United Church until May, 1983 when it was demolished. In June, 1983, additional land was purchased and a new Shallow Lake United Church is being constructed on the same site.
With records that were available we have endeavoured to make this history as complete as possible. We hope it may help its readers to better understand and appreciate the efforts and struggles, our pioneers put forth in order that they might have a place to worship.
We dedicate this history to their memory.
Rev. W. J. Russell 1894-1899
Rev. Archibald Thompson 1899-1905
Rev. A. M. Boyle 1905-1910
Rev. Wallace Johnston 1910-1921
Rev. W. J. Patton 1921-1925