Just a year after
the town of Walkerville was incorporated, Lincoln Road United Church's
first minister, Rev. J. P. Rice, arrived on the scene and was given
the task of raising money to build a Methodist church and rectory.
a letter to the Lincoln Road United Church historical committee
in 1938, Rev. Rice recalls his efforts:
"I was appointed
to undertake this difficult work in 1891, with the distinct understanding
that I was to have the privilege of going anywhere that I could
find an open door to present the peculiar needs of the case in the
effort to raise the necessary cash to build a suitable church and
minister's home. I spent a year and a half in this preparatory work."
"Why did we not
build the church in Walkerville? Well, because we couldn't. I appealed
to Mr. F. H. Walker and his brother for their sympathy and help
but was referred to their father, Mr. Hiram Walker, in Detroit.
He received me very kindly but maintained that so long as the church
he had built and supported was only half filled, there was no apparent
need of any further church accommodation."
"Failing to secure
any financial assistance, as we had hoped, I asked him to sell us
a lot, but he absolutely refused and, of course, as he controlled
all the unoccupied real estate in the town, this apparently seemed
to him to put a quietus upon the proposed enterprise. But I assured
him that as I had been appointed to establish a mission, it would
be done though we might have to cross to Windsor in order to secure
a site, which without any further delay we did and were not long
in coming to the decision that our initial disappointment was of
the greatest future advantage to the work. From the opening service,
the success of the mission was pronounced and assured."
Road became part of Walkerville, May 12, 1890, but when the church
was built, farm property intervened between the church and what
was commonly recognized as the municipality.
Rev. Rice purchased
two lots on Lincoln Road form John Curry, paying fifty dollars down.
Twenty-one days later, he held the first meeting of his new parishioners
and the following day made a down payment of ten dollars on another
lot located at the southwest corner of Lincoln and Wyandotte St.
This purchase was made from W. J. Shannon and a trustee note (ninety
dollars for one year), was given for the balance.
In his efforts
to elicit funds for the construction of the church, Rev. Rice travelled
throughout Western Ontario and received money in St. Catherines,
Hamilton, Toronto, Newmarket and so on. He also crossed to Detroit
to obtain one hundred dollars from J.L. Hudson.
The new parsonage
was built by William Grant for $1695 and was ready for occupancy
in early 1892. By the end of that year, the new church, designed
by H.G. Paul and built by Edward C.T. Doole for $6519, was in operation.
Brick cost $5 per thousand; the fist pipe organ cost $200 and the
first caretaker was paid $8.33 per month. Mr. C. Merrill Walker
donated a furnace for the first parsonage.
structures remained in use for the next 23 years, until the present
church was occupied, when they were sold to Mr. R.A. Holland. It
appears that Rev. Rice did not stay long enough to enjoy the fruits
of his labours as church records indicate that his stay as Pastoral
leader ended in 1892. Apparently, he was rewarded for the hard work
he had done by being assigned to larger responsibilities and harder
work when he was removed to St. Thomas to act as financial agent
for Alma College.
In January 1914,
the decision to build a larger church was made. The homes of Capt.
J. B. Forrest, Wm. F. Robinson and a lot owned by C.H. Robinson
were purchased. One of the residences was retained as a parsonage
and on September 19th, 1914, the cornerstone of the new church was
laid by William Woollatt Sr. On September 12th, 1915, the new church
was complete. The church was constructed for $41,239.75 and the
architect, Irvin S. Walker, received $825.84. The architectural
style is very eclectic with its Gothic and Romanesque features and
it is thought to be English Medieval Revival.
In 1922, the addition
of Woollatt Hall on the south end of the church, with its gymnasium,
classrooms, meeting rooms, a spacious kitchen and even a stage (since
dismantled), allowed Lincoln Road United to provide its congregation
with the opportunity for further spiritual and physical enrichment.
Over the last
seventy-seven years, there have been no other major physical changes
to the church. The original pebbled leaded glass is gradually being
replaced by the installation of beautiful stained glass windows
as a result of bequests to the church from longtime members such
as Garnet & Eva Humphrey. Garnet, who saw to it that there were
always flowers inside the Sanctuary and in the front garden while
he was alive, left a Flower Fund to ensure that this practice was
the Methodist, Congregational, and some Presbyterian churches unified
to form the United Church. In 1996, Reverend Dawn Wheeler, who was
born in Guelph, left her pastoral charge near Hamilton, to begin
her position with Lincoln Road United. The first woman reverend
in the history of the church, Wheeler's challenge, she feels, is
to meet the spiritual needs of a growing ethnic community.
"By providing a warm and welcoming environment," says Wheeler, "we
can help newcomers feel at home, no matter what their denomination."
The church has
just reinstated the youth choir, and offers a very comprehensive
Sunday School program that employs the services of an Early Childhood
Educator. For the community, Parents Time Out is available free
every Wednesday and Helping Hands, a quilting group that meets monthly,
donates its quilts to nursing homes or other facilities that are
At 96, Ethel Plant
has many fond memories of her long association with the church.
A member since 1919, she sang in the old choir, met her husband
in the choir, was married in the church, was a Sunday school teacher
and had her son Christened there. "The church is a part of me,"
says Ethel, "and I'm a part of its history. Now that I'm getting
closer to 100, I can say that I would like to die right in that