South Gloucester United Church
Our history begins with the influx of immigrants to Bytown (many from Northern Ireland
and Scotland) attracted to this area by the building of the Rideau Canal from Kingston
to Bytown in 1826. After workers began arriving in 1826 for this construction, little
communities appeared here and there throughout the Township some even adventured into
the thick forest and dense undergrowth of Gloucester. The first settlement in this area
was known as “Hard Scrabble”. James Johnston from Northern Ireland, passed through in
a covered wagon on the hacked out trail, looking for his Lot 25 Concession 4
(at Johnston's Corners near Rideau Carleton Raceway). When asked later about his struggle
to get there, James replied it had been a hard scrabble. The Johnston settlement became
known as "Hard Scrabble", and the name remained until shortly before the turn of the century.
In 1844 the Rev. William Lochead, a Presbyterian minister from Scotland while visiting his friend, the Rev. Thomas Frazer of Lanark, was invited to preach to the congregations of South Gloucester and Osgoode. In October he accepted the invitation to become the first minister of the pastoral charge and arrived with his family in June of the following year. It was at this time that a resolution was passed to retire from the Presbytery of Bathurst, which had adhered in the late division of the Synod to the old established Church of Scotland, and to unite with the Presbytery of Kingston in the Synod of the Presbyterian Church of Canada in connection with the Free Church of Scotland. A few years later, a preaching station on the Rideau River at Long Island in Manotick, for Presbyterians living in the area was added to his pastoral charge. In 1856, he resigned the Osgoode point and South Gloucester and Manotick became one charge. The manse was located in Manotick as this had become the local centre of activity and population due to the construction of flour and saw mills.
The new church was much larger (32 x 44) and built of solid brick with a pointed steeple (its mate can be seen in Vernon). The building committee consisted of James Brown, David Gamble, John Lennox, Wm. Lees, Andrew Spratt Jr. and Wm. Gamble. The building was completed and the dedication ceremony held in October 1880.
In 1913 during a terrific thunderstorm, the roof and tower of the church were struck by lightning. A huge hole on the east side was patched up and re-shingled. The tower which had been split at the four corners was re-plastered on the inside and re-painted. In 1929 electric lighting was installed, the building redecorated and a new roof put on. Just 4 years earlier, in 1925, the church entered Union when there was a merger of four Protestant denominations: the Methodist Church of Canada, the Congregational Union of Ontario and Quebec, two-thirds of the congregations of the Presbyterian Church in Canada and the Association of Local Union Churches. Although this Church had “Presbyterian” origins, with the Union it became a “United Church”. About 1934, Leitrim United Church (formerly Methodist) closed and many of the congregation joined South Gloucester United. Interesting to note that in the Treasurer’s books for 1934, the total Sunday collections amounted to $122.05 and the expenses were $74.00. Special envelopes were distributed for contributions to the minister’s stipend which were to be placed in little metal slots at the end of the old pews. Envelopes for regular weekly contributions were introduced in 1955.
By 1949, the pointed tower had become unsafe and was replaced by a square one. Money
bequeathed to the church by William Lennox and Andrew Gamble was used to buy a new oak
communion table in 1950. When Bowesville was expropriated in 1951 by the Department of
Transport to build the Ottawa Airport, the members of that United Church gave South
Gloucester their hymnaries, hymn-board and Sunday School materials. The relocation of many
families from Bowesville, resulted in a drop in attendance, but soon improved as families
from Greely and Blossom Park began attending the church.
By 1953, the two old wood stoves were replaced by oil space heaters. Marks made by the piles
of wood used to feed the wood stoves during the services are still visible on the north inside
wall of the church. The old drive shed used to shelter horses and buggies was sold and moved
to a farm close by.
By 1953, the two old wood stoves were replaced by oil space heaters. Marks made by the piles of wood used to feed the wood stoves during the services are still visible on the north inside wall of the church. The old drive shed used to shelter horses and buggies was sold and moved to a farm close by.
The South Gloucester United Church remains a vibrant focal point for the community. Routine fundraising events are widely attended and much anticipated by the Church members, their friends and members of the Community at large. Activities such as yard sales, chicken barbeques, craft and baking sales, book sales, are well attended and assist the Church in meeting its financial obligations. The congregation holds many non-profitable Fun and Fellowship activities including after church brunches, pot luck suppers, weekend and day trips and a very popular coffee time after church service.
We are very happy and proud to welcome you to South Gloucester United (formerly Presbyterian) Church, where we celebrated 130 years of service in 2010.