Genealogy | Transcriptions | St. Paul's (1793-1906)
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The purpose of this sketch is to give a brief history of the Presbyterian Congregation in Simcoe, Ontario.  Although the old[est] congregation in the denomination, west of Glengarry, the story of its career has never been written, and its earlier history, so full of interest, is known to few. Such a retrospect may well inspire us with Gratitude to God, with zeal for the Church, with veneration for our fathers, and with hope and courage for the future.  The story is of interest beyond the present congregation in Simcoe; for, as will be seen, the work of the pioneer pastors extended over the surrounding country and led to the founding of churches at Port Dover, Vittoria, Lynedoch, Carholme, Delhi, Windham Centre, and Jarvis; and far and near there are many who keep in affectionate remembrance their earlier connection with this congregation.  Our sources of information are:

Firstly, Congregational Records, which, however, date no farther back than 1848, earlier records being lost.

Secondly, An autobiography of the first pastor, written twenty-one years after his arrival here. This biography has recently been lost, but we have a brief newspaper statement of some of its contents, written by one who had the original before him when writing.

Thirdly, Gregg's History of the Presbyterian Church in Canada.

Fourthly, Letters, journals, and papers by persons connected with the work.

Fifthly, The testimony of living witnesses.  Among these the one who takes us farthest back is the aged [but] alert Mrs. Nelson Collver of Normandale, who seventy-five years ago became a communicant in Simcoe Presbyterian Chruch and continued a member for forty-five years.  She is able to give us interesting accounts, not only of what occured within her own memory, but also of what she heard from her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Youngs, who belonged to Mr. Collver's flock over one hundred years ago, and were married by him.  Mr. Youngs became an elder in Mr. Bryning's time and held office till 1876; and Mrs. Youngs (Susanna Horton) was a communicant from about 1806 till her death, seventy years afterwards.  We have reiniscences also from one of the daughters of the second pastor, Rev. John Bryning; and from members of the late Elder Polley's family, where the early ministers always found a home.  For later times we have the distinct recollections of some present members of the church, reaching back from fifty to sixty-five years.  Especially has Miss Dyer, whose father ministered to the congregation in 1845, been able to supply needed information.

The material thus gathered has been most interesting; but necessarily only a brief summary can be given.  As far as possible, care has been taken that what is stated as fact is critically correct, but it may be that at some points minor inaccuracies will be found.

The Simcoe Presbyterian church has had a continuous although a diversified history of 113 years since its foundation in 1793.  Like a river which an island for a time divides into two streams, the congregation was separated in 1846 into two branches -- Kirk and Free Church -- a separation which continued until the union in 1876.  Thus its history falls into three well-marked divisions.  During the first portion of 53 years it was one people, during the next 30 years it was two estranged companies, and during the last 30 years it has been one flock in one field; and such it hopes to continue until the day, near or far distance, when the growth of Simcoe shall make it necessary to open an additional Presbyterian church in town.  During the first half of the congregation's history it shared what was apparently one of the distinctions of Apostolic times -- it had no church building.  As Paul preached the Gospels in Rome in his own hired house, and at Ephesus in the School of Tyrannus, Simcoe's first minister preached Christ in his own log house, and in the homes of others; and his successors preached in the old Grammar School; and this continued for the space for fifty-seven years. so that all they which dwelt in Long Point Settlement heard the Word of the Lord Jesus.

Mrs. Nelson Collver







Mr. A. Youngs and Wife

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