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