The History of
Kincardine Baptist Church
taken from the Centennial Brochure 1977
Researched by Charlotte Gall and Rev. Cyril Miller
Rev. Cyril E. Miller
As you read this history, you will be carried back over the years to the beginning of the Baptist witness in Kincardine which was actually more than a hundred years ago. Our church was formally constituted in 1877 so that at we count the year 1977 as our official Centennial.
It is impossible to press into the compass of this small history all the hard and faithful work put in by the various Pastors, leaders and people of the Kincardine Baptist Church. Stories could be told at length of the exploits of many Pastors, and sacrifices and achievements of many church members of the past.
Of some of the leaders of the church we know very little, but their work, and that of the congregation, is faithfully recorded in the annals of God's heroes. When we read of the energy, zeal and sacrifice of some of these pioneers of our work, it cannot fail to make us realize how little we, in our present day, really engage in the work of the
church. In all their work, our forebears toiled unaided by the modern conveyance of the automobile, the help of electricity, the sophisticated aids to worship, and all the conveniences our churches possess today.
However, in the reading of things long past, an atmosphere of romance and adventure is readily engendered. To those engaged in their tasks all those years ago, their work may have seemed very ordinary and at times uneventful. It is when we look back, that we see that God added His touch to the labours of those who worked before us, and has filled with colour the unremitting toil of those who have done all for the sake of their Master.
Often there is much sacrificial work being done in the church of the present which is unnoticed by many. If it were put into writing, it too might read as a similar story of courage and zeal in the Lord's work, Our church is where it is today because of other faithful servants of the Lord, who carry out their tasks without ready recognition.
At the present time we know of many who are putting in all their energy to further the work of the building up of the church, both physically and spiritually.
In the reading of this history, I pray that we may all catch the vision which was the spur to action of those workers mentioned. I pray that we may see the vista of opportunities opening up before us, as a church, in this late twentieth century. Today the Christian Gospel is the only hope for a world wandering in uncertainty and despair.
Our church still has the answer to our community's problems. That answer is Christ, May we follow the example of one of the earliest pioneers of the Christian church, and always preach Christ, and Him crucified.
Yours in the service of the Lord of Lords
Pastor Cyril E. Miller
The Early Years
Rev. Wm. Fraser
The pioneer of our Baptist work in Kincardine was the Rev. Wm. Fraser who in 1850 came from a little church in Breadalbane in the County of Glengarry in Ontario, to Kincardine. He started services in his own home near Kincardine and these services were conducted in English as well as Gaelic. The services could last as long as three hours. After a time the Rev. Wm. Fraser, who was not only a pioneer of the Baptist work but also a pioneer greatly revered in the district in opening up the county, later moved to a place further north on Lake Huron, which is now known as Lorne. There he established a sawmill and a grist mill. The site of these mills can still be discerned, as well as his home at Lorne, which later became the Lorne Post Office. In the door step of this house, which is still standing, can be seen one of the stones of his grist mill.
Of course the grist mill and the sawmill were a great attraction and many people came to him, including some young couples who would come, not only to get their grain processed, but also to be married.
The services in Kincardine continued, although by this time the Rev. Wm. Fraser had founded a work near Tiverton but he travelled to and from Kincardine holding services in his own home.
Later a log chapel was built in Kincardine in the shape of a cross and apparently the work was carried on by the Rev. Wm. Fraser until 1863. As far as we can establish, the old log church was situated on Princess St. South on the West Side just South of Albert St. This part is still commonly known by some of the senior citizens of our town as Holy Ground, as this was where the first Baptist Chapel was built.
In 1876 a new structure was put up on the same site to accommodate a larger congregation, and in 1877 the church was duly constituted as the Kincardine Regular Baptist Church, and it started with thirteen members. The original Minute Book is still in existence and is in the archives at the McMaster Divinity College in Hamilton. The names of the thirteen original members are shown at the foot of a page which is partly torn, so we cannot quite make out all the names, but these thirteen included - D. Cameron, Louisa Cameron, Wm. Holbin, Thomas Morgan, Caleb Morgan, D. A. Mcintosh, Mr. Mcintosh, Thomas Ghent, Marqaret Ghent, Mary McLean, Gregor McKinnon, Isabella McKinnon.
As for the thirteenth name, this is indecipherable, because, as formerly mentioned, part of the page had been torn away.
By this time the Rev. Wm. Fraser had left, and after the church had been duly constituted, a Mr. Alexander Grant was appointed and actually ordained in 1877. He became the pastor of the church at a salary of $600.00 per annum. Under the Rev. Alexander Grant's ministry, the work of the church prospered and many where added to the active membership.
Rev. Alexander Grant
Although it was the Rev. Wm. Fraser who pioneered the work at Kincardine ii was under the Rev. Alexander Grant's dedication and energy that the church was built up so effectively. More therefore, should be said about this remarkable man, He was born in Scotland in 1854 of a deeply religious family. Even so, as a child, Alexander knew fun and mischief. An example of the discipline which had to be given him, shows in his father's dealing with him in church worship.
It was at the communion service. He and his brothers were sitting in a pew away from their parents. Their father did not feel their behavior was befitting to the awesome solemnity of the Lord's Supper and he rose from his seat, crossed over to the pew his boys were occupying and dealt Alexander a resounding box on the ear. This ensured perfect behavior for the remainder of the service!
Alexander Grant was converted under the ministry of a Mr. Steele Immediately after his conversion he began service for his Lord in helping Mr. Steele in evangelical work, even occasionally preaching for him. This at the age of 16. He soon felt God's call to the ministry of the gospel and began his Divinity training at Edinburgh University in Scotland. His studies were terminated, however, when his family decided to emigrate to Canada.
Alexander Grant was generally known in Canada as a self-educated man, perhaps Holy Spirit educated would be a better description. Sufficient that he was a great Bible reader and expositor and continually read his Greek New Testament, a habit kept up by few of our present day ministers, favoured though they are with uninterrupted time of academic training, and in far better circumstances.
In his short time of academic training, Alexander Grant earned distinction, and became a prize-man in the classics. He later spent one year in the Canadian Literary Institute at Woodstock before he took up his first pastoral charge in Pembroke Baptist Church. His love
for the classics no doubt helped him give the color and dramatic nature to the compelling sermons for which he is known.
Alexander Grant was called to Kincardine Baptist Church on April 27, 1877, when the church was first organized. At the beginning of his work he said, Give me four earnest praying Christians and we will take Kincardine by the four corners and draw it to Christ. During two year's ministry at Kincardine 110 were converted and baptized and when he left the total membership amounted to 127.
He left Kincardine to conduct evangelistic services in Durham, Chesley, Port Elgin, St. Mary's and London. After this he returned to the ministry in Kincardine Baptist Church for a further year. From our church he went to London as pastor of the Baptist Church there.
He supervised the building of the Talbot Street church.
While in London he married Elizabeth Cameron of Kincardine, daughter of Deacon Cameron of Kincardine Baptist church. Alexander Grant was a man of boundless energy and dedication. Extracts from his diaries show his humility and his hunger after God. Conversions always followed his ministry. At one of the churches where he ministered 113 baptisms took place in one year. He was a great believer and teacher on the Second Advent.
His promising life in his earthly ministry was cut short by his early death at the age of 43. He was drowned when he and a friend were in a canoe which capsized in the swift waters of the Nipigon River. His companion struggled to shallow water then turned back only to see his friend go under for the last time far out in the stream. In this way one of the most promising preachers on this continent, in the last century, was suddenly ushered into His Master's presence, but his works follow him, not only in the next life, but in this.
Round about the turn of the century, the opening up of Western Canada deprived many of the towns and villages of this area of their population; this of course affected the churches so that in the early twentieth century the membership of the Kincardine church
declined. This was also the case with other churches, especially Tiverton Baptist Church, once a strong thriving work, which declined greatly in numbers. Even so, Tiverton church had by 1905 sent 90 men into the ministry, including the renowned Archibald Reekie, the
founder of our Bolivian Mission work.
The Baptist work at Kincardine continued to bear witness during these harder days. A deacon's board had been set up in May, 1877, comprising eight members - Messrs, Holbin, Cameron, and Warren, who were to oversee spiritual matters, Messrs. McLean, Wyckham,
Miller, Mcintosh and McKinnon to attend to secular matters. !n 1878 following the New Testament pattern, Mr. Holbin became an evangelist for the district and a Mr. Stroner took his place on the deacon's board.
In July of 1879 the Rev. Alexander Grant resigned his pastorate to take up a charge in London. He later became the Rev. Dr. Alexander Grant, Superintendent of the Baptist work in Western Canada. Mr. Grant was followed by Rev. L. Dempsey of Ingersoll, who was inducted into the pastorate on Dec, 3, 1879. Mr. Dempsey's ministry was a short one of two years. The Rev. Henry Ware followed him and he was with the church from 1881 to 1885.
Through the years a succession of ministers and theological students served the church and their names are given toward the end of this history.
A New Building
Wooden Chapel Erected In 1876 On Princes St. South
Moved In 1886 To Queen St. South
It was in 1886 that a meeting was held to consider moving the church building to a more strategic area. In May of that year the building was removed to Queen St. south, on the site of the present church, at a cost of $225.00. The building, having been set up in its new location, was repaired, strengthened and redecorated. The services for the re-opening were conducted by the Rev. Alexander Grant.
In 1909 the first Baptist Young People's Union was formed and Mr. Ben Miller was elected president of this group. The same year electric lighting was installed, In 1913 the Ladies' Aid was organized. Three years later the Tiverton Baptist Church and the Kincardine church shared the services of one minister, the Rev. Charles Waddell.
Special evangelistic services were held in 1917 under Mr. Alexander Torrie. These meetings were well attended and encouraged the combining of the Methodist and Presbyterian causes, together with the Baptist, to hold a united mission in the Town Hall for two
weeks. At the close of these meetings 167 professions of conversion were recorded.
The first parsonage for the Kincardine Baptist Church was purchased in 1922 on the south side of town. Later Kincardine Baptist Church became an independent charge again and continued as such until 1943, when, owing to World War II, ministers were few for the many
churches. Thus no successor could be found to the Rev. Russell Lamb who resigned in the same year.
The church then appointed the Rev. C. Dolby, who was serving Glamis and Tiverton churches, to be our minister also. He preached in Kincardine Sunday evenings and was minister of the three churches until 1948.
Growth and Renovations
In 1949 the church was remodeled, the ceiling was insulated, the choir loft changed, and the lighting improved. The Rev. T. McDowell had been called to the pastorate of the three churches and began his ministry in January 1955. Later, in 1956, Mr. McDowell became full time minister of Kincardine Baptist Church only, and since that time the church has had its own minister.
The church purchased another parsonage in 1956 so that Mr. McDowell was able to take up residence in the town. Within three years, the mortgage for this parsonage was paid off, and a mortgage burning ceremony was conducted by Dr. Dixon Burns from Toronto in December 1959.
The Building Project
The wooden church building had served the church fellowship for a long time, for 85 years, having withstood its uprooting from Princess St. to the new location on Queen St, It was in need of repair and consideration was given to the erection of a new brick building on the same site. The Rev. T. J. McDowell was a staunch advocate for this and encouraged members to venture on this re-building program in faith. The task was undertaken, he himself building much of the wooden structure especially the inside. He was ably assisted by many of the men of the church. The last service in the old building was held on the 84th Anniversary of the church on Sunday, April 16, 1961. Mr. Norman Peveril, the then President of the Baptist Convention, conducted the services.
Mortgage Burning Ceremony December 1959
On a hot Sunday afternoon in July 1961 the cornerstone for the new building was laid by Mr. Ogle Duggan, one of the church deacons.
The church was officially opened for worship on October 8, 1961 and services of dedication were held through the week October 8th to the 13th, The accommodation and facilities of the new building were greatly appreciated by worshippers, and the church groups who were able to use the various meeting rooms, as well as the new sanctuary.
In 1964 the Rev. T. J. McDowell resigned and was followed by the Rev. Douglas Kinsman for four years. During Mr. Kinsman's ministry the house next door to the church became available and was purchased by the church. The old parsonage was sold and the proceeds of this, together with a new mortgage on the new parsonage, helped to settle the debt on the church.
After the resignation of Mr. Kinsman in 1968, a call to the pastorate was extended to the Rev. Cyril E. Miller of Montreal. Rev. Miller accepted the call and our present pastor began his in January 1969.
More Growth, more Renovations
With regular summer visitors and special meetings, the building began to be inadequate for the seating of the congregation. In addition came the continued increase in town population with the influx of workers into Douglas Point with its various complexes for the Nuclear Power Plant. With this increasing congregation often the seating capacity was taxed, even in the wintertime. Anticipating a further growth of the town, especially by the end of the decade, plans were formed for the extension of the present building to seat 300, with a provision for overflow meetings. More space was particularly needed for the younger children of the Sunday School and larger lower auditorium and primary classrooms were also envisaged.
The membership of the church now totalled 120 and the church felt justified in making such a venture seeing that the burden in 1961 was undertaken by approximately 32 members. In anticipation of the further building program, land south of the church, adjoining the parsonage lot, was purchased.
The debt on this land and the outstanding debt on the new parsonage was discharged in 1975 and a further mortgage burning ceremony was held on Sunday, October 17, 1976, conducted by Mr. Vince Judge, Moderator of the Owen Sound Association of Baptist Churches of the Convention of Ontario and Quebec.
In August 1976 the work on the extension began, and a great deal of the construction was carried out by men of the church. The zealous efforts of these workers deserves the highest praise as they carried out their tasks in the coldest of weather. At times as many as 15 men could be seen working on the site. The ladies too were ready to help the men in decorating the structure when it was ready.
At the time of writing 1977, the work on the extension to the church is still in operation. Enlargement is in anticipation of greater congregations in 1977 and onward.
Kincardine Baptist Church
Rev. William Fraser - in 1850 began the Baptist witness in Kincardine
Rev. Alexander Grant - the first paid Pastor of our work when it was constituted in 1877-1879
Rev. J. Dempsey 1879-1881
Mr. J. Holbein 1881
Rev. Henry Ware 1882-1885
Rev. W. L. Newton 1885-1886
Rev. James Coutts 1886-1887
Rev. John Grey 1887-1891
Rev. A. McFadyen 1891-1897
Rev. Mr. Nimmo 1897-1899
Rev. W. R, Telford 1899-1901
Rev. Mr. Cashman 1901-1902
Rev. E. E. Shields 1902-1906
Rev. Mr. White 1906-1908
Rev. Mr. Davies 1909-1914
Rev. Mr, Jones 1914-1916
Rev. Mr. Wright 1916-1917
Rev. Chas. Waddell 1917-1920
Rev. G. Gomme 1920-1922
Rev. J. F. Holliday 1922-1926
Rev. N. Loveland 1926-1927
Rev. E. P. H. King 1927-1934
Rev. W. McAteer 1935-1937
Rev. J. T. H. Rich 1937-1942
Rev. Russell Lamb 1943
Rev. C. Dolby 1943-1948
Rev. J. Mair 1949-1951
Mr. Murray Richardson 1952-1953
Rev, John Burton 1953-1954
Rev. T. J. McDowell 1955-1964
Rev. Douglas Kinsman 1964-1968
Rev. Cyril E. Miller 1969- 1978
Rev. Wm. Brown 1978-1979
Rev. Reynold Kepfer 1979-1981
Rev. George Lockhart 1981- 1985
Rev. L Smith 1985 - 1986
Rev. Iain Dixon 1986 - 1989
Rev. I VonKeitz 1989
Rev. Michael Liew 1990 - 1994
Rev. Charles Jackson 1994 - 1996
Rev. A. Brent Hudson 1996 - 2000
Rev. J Smith 2000 - 2001
Rev. George Scott 2001 - 2008
Pastor Kenneth Craig 2008 - 2022
Rev. Mark LaRonde 2022 -
History of the County of Bruce by Norman Robertson - For information on Rev. Wm. Fraser
The Bruce County Historical Society - for permission to use the picture of the Rev. Wm. Fraser
Canadian Baptist Archives-for the picture of the Rev. Alexander Grant and for biographical sketches on Mr. Grant.
Mr. Alan Crisp - for the impression of the old log church.
Mrs. Ogle Duggon - for various photographs.
Rev. Cyril Miller and Miss Charlotte Gall - for the text of the history of the church and congregation.
Brochure Committee -Miss Charlotte Gall - Chairman
Mr. Lloyd Black
Mrs. May Kennedy
Mr. Ed. Fielding
Rev. Cyril Miller