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After 1907
1901 Snapshot
Air Photo Study
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The new parish did not prosper at first. The congregation was so small in the 1880s that most of its organizations had dwindled and died. Within a year of taking the church, Mr. Taylor was gone, and Holy Trinity came under the care of St. Barnabas in Ottawa. Its priest, Thomas Bailey, took charge with the help of four Holy Trinity lay readers, one of who, James Fletcher (of the original committee), was also the superintendent of the Sunday school and teacher of the Bible class. In 1896 (the year the diocese of Ottawa was formed), Holy Trinity was independent again, and Frederick Squires became its rector.

In the nineteenth and through at least the first half of the twentieth century, churches were not only spiritual but social centres in the lives of their parishioners. They encompassed ladies' guilds, altar guilds, sewing societies and their junior "helpers", the Young Peoples' Associations, the men's clubs, the branches of the Women's Auxiliary and of the Brotherhood of St. Andrew. And there were drama societies and entertainment committees to see to the lighter side of life in the church family.

Mr. Squires wanted this kind of vitality for his church. A man then in his middle years, he appears to have had plenty of energy and determination. But, by 1899, Holy Trinity's financial situation was not good. In the September minutes of that year's annual vestry meeting, Mr. Squires pointed out that "the church is in a precarious position and could be closed at any time." He offered to "take the debt of the church upon his own shoulders." He advised the "re-opening" of the Ladies Guild, the Sewing Society and other organizations - all of which had fallen away.

"With strenuous effort we would soon have our little church one of the finest little churches around," he told his parishioners and said that he hoped "to leave the church in a better state than when I found it." (All this when his own stipend was in arrears).
Things were still so bad (or worse) a year later that the parish considered asking Mr. Squires to leave. They would put the church, once more, under the care of a more prosperous parish. (The missions of Hawthorne and Leitrim, attached to the parish in 1899, were given up in 1904.)

Mr. Squires did not leave. He was Holy Trinity's priest for nineteen years, and under his direction, finances were stabilized and the parish grew. The mortgage on the church was soon reduced to $1,030, and the "reopened" Sewing Society (membership fee: seventy-five cents) made it its goal to reduce it further. (With the church's weekly intake of between seven and eight dollars, those women really had to sew!) Fifty-four dollars was collected towards the installation of electric lights. As well, the parish women furnished the church with a new altar (since the old had been given to St. Columba in Manor Park). There was enough money now to send bales (bundles of clothing) to mission churches in the west and to support a blind boy in India.

The teen-age girls formed a junior sewing society, called The Cheerful Workers. Those girls must have taken up the challenge and thrown themselves into their work with missionary zeal because by the end of 1904, the amount of the debt was only $376.96. (All the same, the church took out a new mortgage in 1905). That same year, the Altar Guild presented to the church three brass vases, complete with artificial flowers for the altar, paid for with money from the Guild's bazaar. And the pennies the sixty-five Sunday school children had been saving for three years added up to enough to pay for The Good Shepherd window that is now the west window of Ascension. And the church acquired a bell.

So far, no amount of research can make the several stories (or the dates) concerning the acquisition of this bell come together. What's certain is that the bell was a bit of serendipity that resulted from a railway accident. In his memoir, Ted Gunderson wrote that it came from a train engine that fell into the water in 1904 from the canal bridge. (The railway bridge spanned the canal just north of the footbridge). The keepers of railway lore have a record of just such an accident in 1891 and of an accident in 1907, in which the engine did not quite fall into the canal but was suspended precariously over it for several hours. Nothing in 1904.

Whichever accident it was, Joseph Leslie, one of Holy Trinity's wardens, negotiated with the Canada Atlantic Railway for the bell. He got it, and the bell was ceremoniously hoisted up into the steeple of the church, where its cheerful clang brought the faithful to church every Sunday until 1967, when it was given to the church of St. Augustine in Newington.

A much more disastrous railway accident was the occasion for one of the stained- glass windows now on the west wall of Ascension. Alfred Parks, a long-time active member of the congregation, was an engine driver for the Grand Trunk Railway. When a passenger train he was driving struck a broken rail on the track between the spa at Carlsbad Springs and Hawthorne, five miles outside Ottawa, the engine capsized, and the cars were derailed. Six of the twenty-two passengers were injured (among them Rural Dean George Taylor). Both the fireman and engineer Parks were scalded to death by the steam. Alfred Parks was forty-two years old. His widow and children gave the church the window in his memory.

That same year, James Fletcher died, and Captain Charles Winter took over the job of Sunday school superintendent. Dr. Fletcher was so well liked that the congregation bought the brass lectern in his memory. As well as being a founding member of Holy Trinity, he was lay reader, superintendent of Sunday school and Bible-class teacher. The authors of the 1956 church history wrote about Dr. Fletcher: "Any person who came under his guidance was privileged indeed."
Although the church itself still wasn't very comfortable - Ted Gunderson remembered Mr. Squires delivering his sermons with his eyes closed because of the stinging smoke - the parish was better off. It now had, in addition to its other organizations, a boys club, called The Boys Brigade (complimented in one set of vestry minutes for "the improvement of the boys' conduct and bearing"), an elaborate Christmas Festival and an annual summer sports day.

Mr. Squires saw the congregation through the worry of the South African War - in which one member of the congregation, Robert Bradley, was killed; the window now on the east wall of Ascension is a memorial to him. And Mr. Squires was still Holy Trinity's priest when the First World War started in August of 1914.

While there's nothing in the church records to say exactly what Holy Trinity's parishioners did during the war, the Sewing Society, under the direction of the Red Cross, would have been making sheets and bandages for the wounded, and sewing for the orphaned and displaced children in Belgium. They would, too, have been filling boxes with their knitted socks, food and treats for "the boys in khaki" and taking part in concerts to raise money for the Red Cross. Prayers for those soldiers, the sailors and the nurses overseas must have been long and deeply felt and every voice lifted to the height of the church in the singing of hymns like Eternal Father Strong to Save and Oh God our Help in Ages Past.
At the same time, the ordinary life of the church went on. Frederick Squires' relations with his parishioners had become strained - possibly because he so often engaged in acrimonious discussions with them about his stipend. In 1915, Mr. Squires and his wife moved to an apartment on Elgin street but by now, there was so little money that his stipend was cut from $800 to $600 and then to $400. He left Ascension. In fact, the bishop (the newly elected John Charles Roper) retired him, and he left Canada to return to England to take a parish somewhere in Norfolk.

Mark Malbert, who followed him, stayed only a year, after which the bishop appointed him as full-time priest to the Ottawa Hebrew Mission.

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