Besides serving the Flamborough congregation, Rev. Christie for many years travelled throughout the southern part of Upper Canada, preaching as far east as Gananoque and Kingston, Hamilton to the west and Fergus to the north – many of his charges being a day’s travel apart. During his pastorate, he established the congregations of Kirkwall, Beverly Township in 1833; St. George, Brant County in 1836; Puslinch and Central Presbyterian, Hamilton in 1837 and Elora in 1839. On one occasion, he and the Rev. William Proudfoot walked to Goderich and back, gathering groups of converts along the way and meeting with them for encouragement on their return. West Flamboro, however, remained the headquarters of his missionary work.
In the December 1857 issue of Canadian United Presbyterian Magazine, there appeared a report from West Flamboro that “…at a large and most harmonious meeting, it was resolved to raise the stipend of the Rev. Thomas Christie from £125 to £175.” It also noted that additional property had been purchased by the congregation and they were “…now erecting shades for the accommodation of 25 pairs of horses” as most of the members”…reside at a considerable distance from the church.”
The question of building a new church on a piece of land known as “the one-acre lot” that the Trustees had purchased from Thomas McCusker in 1857 for £125 was placed before the congregation on April 26, 1865. It was moved by Robert Thompson and seconded by William Nesbit that “…the necessary steps be taken.”
Later in the year, Mr. A. H. Hill, an architect and civil engineer from Hamilton, was appointed to prepare the plans and specifications for the building. The total cost of the new church was $4, 117. 52, of which $375 was for quarrying the stone, $1,200 for Mr. Nicholson, the mason, $450 for lumber, $60 for shingles and $1,325 for carpentry work.
The new church was opened on February 17, 1867, with Rev. Christie conducting the first morning service. Following the move into the new church, the old wooden one was dismantled and removed and the site divided into lots for a burying ground.
The last meeting of Session at which Rev. Christie was present was held on June 12, 1870. He had served the congregation for 38 years and continued his duties until a few days before his death on September 8, 1870 at 87 years of age. Although he “was slight of build and frail looking” this gentleman typified the missionary zeal and determination that brought Presbyterianism to Canada.
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, 12 October 2007.