Tales and Facts from Yesteryear:
- The church has always tried to be a pillar of the community, but there were some titles it might not have coveted. Not so long ago, the horse shed (located where the present parking lot is today) was known as the best place for couples to go ‘parking’ in the area!
- On the other hand, Church suppers have long been a staple as the wonderful contributions of all our volunteers make them memorable events and an opportunity for some great food. However, people might be surprised to know that church suppers predate the renovation of the church basement - when there were no cupboards or sinks to speak of! All the water for cooking and dish washing at these suppers had to be brought to the church in cream cans.
- However the last shouldn’t be surprising, our church congregation has always been marked by determination. When the ladies were to clean up the old manse, but having no key to get in, they chose the simple expedient of climbing in a window.
- The Church also has the unusual and unfortunate distinction of the death of one minister under surprising circumstances. On August 6, 1896, Rev. John Hardie Stewart apparently fell asleep in his buggy on the way home from a Church meeting and was hit by a train on the railroad tracks (the horse escaped unscathed). We believe our meetings now tend to leave people with a bit more energy!
- Fortunately the church also had the prouder distinction of the services of Mr. McKim (an early organist who was also blind) who was said to have been able to take the keyboard off and repair a key on the organ during the prayers, and have it ready for the next hymn!
- Tim might be glad of other changes which Church Administration has made. Back in the day, the minister didn’t have a set salary but was given whatever was left over after the bills were paid.
- Perhaps the most surprising tale from the past - or at least the most dramatic - concerns the 1832 union of the British Wesleyan Church and the Methodist Episcopal Church. They joined to form the Wesleyan Methodist Church in Canada, but for ten years the Waterloo Chapel (the church’s contemporary name) was in turmoil. Since no deed for the church property had been obtained, the two groups were at odds. Relations went from bad to worse. Verbal battles were discarded and physical force taken up!
Several incidents followed; in 1836, the Episcopal trustees declared themselves legal proprietors, and being denied entrance, twice broke forcibly into the church. Later, several men took the lock off the chapel door, replacing it with one of their own, so that the Wesleyan trustees were effectively locked out. In another incident, a lock was placed on the organ and the key was made ‘unavailable’ to the other faction.
The most dramatic account, however, tells of a funeral service in the chapel being smoked out…literally! The other party climbed onto the roof and stuffed the chimney with rags to force the funeral to a close. (The narrator of this particular story would not say which group was which).
With that, we can only hope our congregation can get along a little better now!
Cataraqui Church Trivia: Did You Know…
- the history of Cataraqui United Church stretches back over the reigns of seven Kings and two Queens of England
- “Cataraqui” means ‘rocks rising out of the water’
- the painting and decorating of the interior of the church was completed December 13, 1953 (for the anniversary service). The old decoration consisted of scripture passages; over the pulpit on the wall was ‘Holiness becometh thine House O Lord’, and above the entrance door was ‘Strength and beauty are in his sanctuary’.
- the area where the Church now stands was originally known as Sandville and later changed to Waterloo, in honour of Wellington’s victory over Napoleon. The church, as a result, was named Waterloo Chapel. (The name was eventually hyphenated to Waterloo-Cataraqui to end confusion with the city of Waterloo and finally shifted entirely to Cataraqui).
Any place with as much history as Cataraqui tends to accumulate some interesting stories. We hope you enjoy some of the odd trivia and amusing tales which have passed into the Church archives.
Fun Facts and Memories