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After 1907
1901 Snapshot
Air Photo Study
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The New York Stock Exchange crash that started the Great Depression happened in the fall of 1929. The "bad times" when so many people were out of work and so many had to rely on soup kitchens for their only sustenance lasted for ten years. The plea for money, for parishioners to support their church, a running theme through the church's whole history, has never been more poignant than in these Depression years. There was never a "fixed charge for sitting" in Ascension's pews but, as Francis Wimberly said at one annual vestry meeting, "donations are hoped for." Wistful words. Mr. Wimberly, who succeeded Robert Jefferson as priest, donated part of his $200-per-year stipend to the church in 1932, and, at some point in the mid 1930s, Ted Gunderson, then parish treasurer, had to go to the bank to borrow money to pay the arrears owed to the coal company and to Mr. Wimberley. The bank manager was reluctant to lend the church the $1,000 without collateral. In his memoir, Mr. Gunderson wrote, "I explained our people were faithful and the property was actually backed by the diocese of Ottawa. I also advised them I had a new automobile and I would put this up as collateral." He got the loan. The coal dealer and the reverend both got their money.

Straightaway, Mr. Gunderson suggested to the Advisory Board that "in order to offset further embarrassment" every household have a box, to be called "the fuel box," in which to put a penny every day. Coal cost between seven and eight dollars a ton per year so, "With the hope of $3.65 from every box at the end of the year," there would be "ample" to pay for the coal. (He did not mention how the priest's stipend was to be paid.) The first year brought in $400, so the penny-a-day system was followed until both the church and the rectory were converted to oil. (What poor Mr. Wimberley - or Adrian Bender who succeeded him in 1935 - lived on is anybody's guess.)

Impoverished though so many of them were, Ascension's people supported one another through those rough times, and they created times of fellowship. The prayer circle, the Dramatic Society, the Men's Club, The Brotherhood of St. Andrew, the Women's Auxiliary were all active, and Mr. Jefferson's tennis club was still going strong. (As late as 1940, at the annual vestry meeting, there was a heated discussion about the morality - or the propriety - of tennis being played "on the Sabbath.") The Babies Branch, now called Little Helpers, was active (At one annual party, there were twenty-two mothers, thirty-eight children, nine W.A. members and four visitors. The two cakes cost forty-five cents, the cookies, thirty- six cents). The Sunday school was thriving, as was the Young Peoples' Association; there were active Boy Scout and Cub Scout troops, and, the Depression notwithstanding, a rectory was built in 1932 on the land that had been bought nine years earlier. It cost $5,000, money raised over twelve years by the Ladies' Guild. There was money enough to keep up Ascension's portion of the diocesan's mission fund and to send bales to the mission churches in the west and to the Arctic. (The prairie drought is described in one vestry account as, "the western difficulty.")

Francis Wimberly (an Englishman who had, early on, been in mission churches in western Canada, came to Ascension from North Gower) was a strong leader and a kind man about whom one of his parishioners said, "that the parish survived [the Depression] and the activities continued was in no small way due to his leadership." Mr. Wimberley left in 1935, and Adrian Bender came from Pakenham to succeed him. Mr. Bender saw the parish through the last years of the Depression, the Second World War and the church's 90th anniversary.

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