Churches – the early years

Churches – the Early Years

  • It took 20 years after the arrival of George Bolton for the first church to be built in the village of Bolton Mills
  • Despite a 200 acre Clergy Reserve in the heart of the village, the government did not provide land for churches. Instead, it funneled revenue from the clergy reserves to the Church of England rather than to Protestant churches in general 
  • Only fully ordained ministers of established churches could perform marriages which, for many years, forced young couples to trek to York to be married
  • With the advent of visiting itinerant ministers, called saddle bag or circuit preachers, local congregations started to evolve; they met in homes, barns or in farm fields
  • But itinerants, particularly Methodists who originated in the US, faced opposition and insults from the ruling party with its Church of England bias
  • In 1836, the Catholic Church established the Gore Mission, building a chapel called St. Patrick’s in Wildfield.  The mission included Bolton’s small Catholic population and Bolton’s cooper, Francis McDonald, was married there on January 18, 1841 
  • Yet visits by Anglican clergy were rare. It wasn’t until after 1837 that Rev. Featherstone Lake Osler, newly ordained in the UK and freshly appointed by Bishop Strachan to serve Tecumseth and West Gwillimbury, made his way into the Bolton Mills area   
  • By the early 1840s,  Bolton’s protestant congregations began raising money to build their first churches
    1819 Survey Map of Albion Township showing the Clergy Reserve, Lot 8, Concession 7.