|Air Photo Study
Wesley United Church
|The first decade of the Twentieth Century brought a flurry
of church building in Ottawa East. With village incorporation in 1888 there
was a sense of separateness felt by the various denominations living on
that 'slice of land' between the canal and river and they wanted their own
congregations. By 1901 the village population had reached approximately
1,500 souls and almost everyone in the census of that year listed a religious
persuasion, yet there was only one church.
Trinity Church (later Church of the Ascension) had been built in 1877 at the corner of Main and Echo to serve the Anglicans and for nearly two decades had also been the church of other Christians. By 1901 the Catholic population of Ottawa East was large enough to require a separate parish. The bilingual parish of Holy Family came into existence that year under the direction of the Oblates and Ste. Famille Church was built on what is now Oblate Avenue. The large German community, was served by St. Paul's Lutheran Church built in 1875 at Wilbrod and King St. (later King Edward). The Baptists held their first meeting in a tent at the corner of Main and Hawthorne in 1908 and later built the present-day church at Main and Evelyn. There was a Congregationalist Church on Fourth St. (Havelock) in 1897 as evidenced by a James Ballantyne photograph but no records have been found as yet.
The Methodists, up to that point, had endured the long walk over the swing bridge to McLeod Church on Bank St. or the Dominion Church uptown at Queen and Metcalfe. Partly to avoid the long journey to a place of worship (especially difficult for children) but also to have a church of their own, forty Methodist from Ottawa East met in late 1908 to begin the process of establishing a new pastorate. Supported by the new Ottawa Methodist Church Union, by July of 1909 the Wesley Methodist Church building fronting on Hawthorne* at Main was dedicated.
As chronicled by Cy Chapman and others in the following "History of Wesley United Church", the Methodists immediately assumed a major role in the day-to-day life of Ottawa East. We are indeed fortunate that, from the very beginning of the congregation, detailed records of the activities and people who formed an integral part of the Christian mosaic that made up the community.
It is necessary at this point in the story of Ottawa East to remember the important role the churches played in the life of almost every individual. Think of the number of religious holidays and church social events that took place each year and this represents only a portion of church connections people experienced. Each institution took care of its own members by acting as "a social safety net", to use a modern term. And every church supported the needy, no matter what their particular belief. Ottawa East at this point was a community of Christians who adhered to the basic belief of "charity".
Throughout this historical work, this writer has gone to great lengths to include as many references as possible to the ordinary people of Ottawa East. The vast majority of those cited were simply individuals that helped create the fabric of the community. Ottawa East was (and still is) the people. As an example of the Christian charity so evident in the Wesley community, one need only read about Dorothy, a lifelong member of the church. She, as well as countless others, were part of what Cy Chapman describes as "a simple, unassuming fellowship of Christians paying homage to God in a family atmosphere".
The link just below will take you to the astonishingly detailed story
of the Methodist heritage of Ottawa East. Originally written in 1982,
it was updated by Cyril Edward Chapman in 1996 and is reproduced here
with the kind permission of the author and the church. It is indeed fortunate
that the minutia of church life has been preserved, as this is the information
that keeps the history alive.
|An additional "Picture Page" has been included here showing hotlinked thumbnail images rather that include all the pictures with the text.
|The Seventy Fifth Anniversary Booklet (1983) cover has been reproduced here. It shows three sketches of the various buildings where church services were held.
|Go here to find the Index To Stained Glass Windows.
|Editor's Note: The original document was scanned using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software. While an effort has been made to correct any mistakes accruing in this transfer process, some may still remain. These are the responsibility of the editor. As well a few documents and pages have not been reproduced.
|* Originally Wesley fronted on Hawthorne Ave.. Starting in 1912 negotiations with the City to change the orientation of the church to front on Graham Ave. commenced. This apparently took place about 1918. More on this in the history that follows.