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Holy Trinity Church - A History
Going to church by Rowboat
by Dorothy Helferty - Mainstreeter May 1986

When some families went to church in Ottawa East in 1877 they had to row, or be rowed across the canal and, back again when the service was over. The little red brick building at Echo Dr. and Main Street, once known as Holy Trinity Anglican -Church of Archvi11e (now Ottawa East) is still standing and now the property of the Portuguese Community Centre of Ottawa Car1eton.Still a well-known landmark, the site of the church was obtained from the late Archiba1d Stewart, after whom the village of Archvi11e was named. The church was opened for Divine Services the first Sunday in September 1877.Costs of the church were as follows: land $875.00; building $2,313.88; fence and porch $108.21, basement $200.43, and furniture $465.99.

Years after he served at Holy Trinity, the late Robert Jefferson, Reverend and former Anglican Bishop of Ottawa, co-authored a pamphlet called, "Faith of our Fathers - the Story of the Anglican Diocese of Ottawa". The pamphlet reads in part: "few of the congregations in the Diocese of Ottawa have a rowboat as part of their church property, but when Holy Trinity Church on Canal Road in the village of Archvil1e was built in 1877, a boat was provided to ferry parishioners across the Rideau Canal, there being no nearby bridge.

Salary $200 a Year

Continuing in the pamphlet, the authors recalled that lithe first rector of Holy Trinity was Rev. T.O. Phil-ips and parish records show his salary in 1880 to have been $200.00 a year. In addition to serving as rector, Rev. Phillips was a high school teacher, a private tutor and a noted cricketeer."

Holy Trinity was originally a mission attached to St. John's Church (now Church of St. John the Evange11st, Elgin and Somerset Streets, Ottawa, then located on McKenzie Avenue, opposite Majors Hill Park.) Later it was attached to St. Barnabas Church, becom-ing an independent parish
in the early 1900's.

Average collections in 1880 varied from $7.00 to $8.00 per Sunday. Records indicate formation of a Ladies' Guild 1n 1884; a Woman1s Auxiliary in 1894, and a Sewing Society formed in 1902 to "help reduce the church debt". This society it is recalled, "served faithfully for many years ".

Mr. T.E. Gunderson of 30 Eleanor Drive, Nepean, in an article written for the centennial of the Church of the Ascension, wrote: "I attended Sunday School each Sunday afternoon from the time 1 was ten at Holy Trin-ity; that was a long time ago." He is now 88 years of age and has many memories of his life in Ottawa East.

Eyes Closed for Sermons

Mr. Gunderson recalls that the rector was F.W. Squires (rector in 1896-1915 approx.) and I recall at many church services with my father, he preached most of his sermons and rituals with his eyes closed. I shall always remember that oddity.

Today he explains that "this oddity was probably caused by smoke from wood fires in the church stove. The wood was often times green, and I know my eyes used to get sore and red. Perhaps it
was the same thing with Mr. Squires, and with most of the congregation as well.

He notes that "there was no furnace in the basement, but a long, pot-bellied stove inside the front door prov-ided the heat. A straight, black smoke pipe went half-way up, then across and a-cross again near the chancel all pipes being fastened securely with wire. The wood was in four and six
foot lengths. This was the only heating equipment and as I recall many times, the wood being wet caused dense smoke, and we choked, coughed and had red eyes and sat in smelly clothes."

In his pamphlet, Bishop Jefferson wrote further: lilt is an ill wind that blows nobody good and when in 1904 the church was in need of a bell, it happened that an engine of the Canada Atlantic Railway toppled into the Rideau Canal. The bell from the salvaged engine was placed in the steeple of the church and called the faithful to church for years until replaced by chimes: The bell is now used in St. Augustine's Church, Newington, Ontario.

Bishop Jefferson was ap-pointed rector in 1916, and under his leadership the parish grew so remarkably that a new and larger church was needed. The new site on Echo Drive was pur-chased and the church became the Church of the Ascension. The first sod was turned for the new church
in June 1919 by Rev. A. A. McKay and the cornerstone was laid by the late Bishop Roper in September 1919. This church still serves Anglicans in the district.

The Portuguese Community Association purchased Holy Trinity in 1977 whereupon it
became a centre for both members and non-members alike. Recently, the church was apparently sold to a developer, but according to a community spokesperson the deal has been held up
by a court action. At stake appears to be not only the future of this historical property but also the way in which the Community Association is to be operated.

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