On Sunday, September 16, 2007 a plaque commemorating the 175th Anniversary of the church at Christie’s Corners and the work of Rev. Thomas Christie was unveiled.
The Presbyterian Church has a long history in West Flamborough Township that has encompassed three different church affiliations. It dates from 1825 when Rev. George Sheed, born and educated in Scotland and a licentiate of the Church of Scotland, came to Upper Canada as a tutor to the family of James Crooks. He conducted services in the Flamboro’ schoolhouse, and on alternate Sundays in a hall in the village of Ancaster.
In 1832, a trio of missionaries from Scotland, one of whom was the Rev. Thomas Christie from Holm in the Orkney Islands, volunteered to come to Upper Canada to lead church work. They arrived in Quebec in the late summer and found themselves in the midst of a cholera epidemic. One of the missionaries died of the disease; Christie contracted it and survived. He had been ordained in 1817 by the United Associate Synod of the Secession Church of Scotland and in West Flamborough, he found many others of the same affiliation living in the area.
It would seem that Christie organised a congregation almost immediately after his arrival as, according to an obituary for Mr. Stephen Nesbit of Beverly, “he had been a member of the Kirk Session and a member of the congregation since its formation in the year 1832.” The newly formed group meting in the log schoolhouse on Lot 1, Concession 1, just south of the present church.
In April 1833, less than six months later, Thomas Christie officially accepted the call from the congregation: “We, the undersigned members of the Presbyterian Church of West Flamboro’ and Beverly and the neighbouring townships…being destitute of the privileges of the Gospel and earnestly desirous of possessing them, and being persuaded by good report and our own experience of the fitness for the work of the ministry of you, the Rev. Thomas Christie, missionary …invite, entreat and call you to become our pastor.”
With Christie’s acceptance of the invitation, the decision to erect a church was made and a subscription list to pay for the building was circulated. The money raised by the congregation – considering the circumstances and hardships so many of the early settlers faced – was truly amazing. Among the donors were Adam Thompson, Robert Camp, Stephen Nesbit, George Hanes William McKinlay, Peter and David Van Every David Camp.
Sylvia Wray is the former archivist with the Flamborough Archives. She can be reached through the Archives at email@example.com.
This article was originally published in the Flamborough Review, 21 September 2007.