Merivale Milestones

“To indolence and carelessness may be attributed the meagre information we possess regarding the origin, progress, growth and decay of so many branches of the human race. Even the briefest correct records would be of signal advantage to posterity and to the historian. The migratory disposition of mankind makes it difficult to preserve such records even when they exist. Intelligent young people should keep short notes of stirring events that come within the range of their observation as these must be of interest and in the hands of one who could classify and arrange and generalize they would not be heavy, but readable. “

12" J.L. Gourlay (Merivale’s first minister)


The present church, built in 1875/76, replaced a log meetinghouse dating from 1849 . Both churches were built on land donated by Mr. Arthur Hopper. The first sermon in this church was preached 29 July 1849 by Rev. David Evans of the Church of Scotland in Richmond.
The drawing at left, by Howard L. Trueman, is from the 1932 booklet “100 Years of Fruitful Work in Merivale”, edited by J. Ernest Caldwell. It is said to be based on the recollections of people who had worshiped there.

Initially, the log church was purely Presbyterian, but it later served both the Presbyterians and the Anglicans. In 1874, the Anglicans erected their own building, St. John’s, immediately south of the old log church.

1851:The first settled minister of Merivale Presbyterian Church was Rev. John Lowry Gourlay, who served the congregation from 1851 to 1868. Rev. Gourlay appears to have been both erudite and energetic. He is described as “a diligent student of theology and a Hebrew and Greek scholar of note". In addition to Merivale (then known as Hopper’s Settlement), he served congregations in Bell’s Corners, Goulbourne, and Aylmer, QC. In his later years, Rev. Gourlay wrote “A History of the Ottawa Valley”, which can be viewed in the main branch of the Ottawa Public Library.

1868-1872: After the departure of Rev. Gourlay, there was a period of four years during which the pulpit was occupied by students named Fletcher and McClung. We have very little information about them.

In 1872, Rev. Robert Whillans was ordained and inducted by Ottawa Presbytery of the “Canada Presbyterian Church”. Rev. Whillans is described as a competent Greek scholar and a father of nine. He initially served Merivale and Bell’s Corners churches, later adding Westboro (until 1900, known as Skead’s Mills). During Rev. Whillan’s first three years, Merivale services were held in the old log meeting house. On May 15, 1875, a congregational meeting appointed a committee “to take all necessary steps in accomplishing the wishes of the congregation as regards the erection of a new church in this place.” The committee did their work well; the first worship service in the new church took place May 7, 1876 and the church has been in service ever since. At least one descendent of the building committee is still active in Merivale United Church.

In the 1880’s, Anglican and Presbyterian churches stood side by side. The Presbyterian church (building on the right) lacks the tower, which is now a distinctive feature of Merivale United Church.

The photograph at left is from “The City Beyond”, by Dr. Bruce Elliott of Carleton University.

Rev. Whillans was deeply interested in questions of temperance, and was probably responsible for the establishment, at both Merivale and Westboro, of the “Good Templars”, a temperance organization.

In May 1899, after a pastorate of 27 years, Rev. Whillans resigned his charge and accepted a call to Bryson, QC.

In 1899, Rev. Whillans was succeeded by Rev. Andrew S. Ross, who served Merivale and Westboro. until 1906. (Bell’s Corners had linked up with Stittsville.) In 1906, Rev. Ross moved to Montreal and continued to be prominent in Montreal Presbytery for many years. His daughter, Hope Ross Papezik, has presented the church with a photograph and a biography of her father.

Rev. Ross was followed at Merivale/Westboro by Rev. A.G. “Archie” Cameron. In 1908, Merivale separated from Westboro and continued as a single-point charge under the leadership of Rev. Cameron. In 1909, Rev. Cameron was succeeded by Rev. J.R. Urquhart, then, in 1913, by Rev. James I. Robinson.

Church Union: In 1925, about 6 months before inauguration of the United Church of Canada, Merivale Presbyterian and City View Methodist churches united into a two-point pastoral charge. After having piloted the association between the two churches through to completion, Rev. Robinson tendered his resignation, stating, “it would be in the best interests of the uniting churches.

Centennial Celebration: In 1932, Merivale celebrated a centennial, marking the time from 1832, the year that the Rideau Canal was completed. The booklet “One Hundred Years of Fruitful Work in Merivale”, edited by J. Ernest Caldwell#, points out that “long before there was a settled ministry, itinerant preachers had visited the settlement and held irregular services among the earliest settlers.” It appears to have been a big celebration; attendance at one of the events is estimated at “upwards of 2000.”

By 1939 (exact date not known), a tower had been added to the church building. Note the sheds to the north of the sanctuary. These were built to provide shelter for the horses during the worship service, though at the time this photograph was taken the stable was occupied by a “horseless carriage”.

Merivale/City View: The association between Merivale and City View appears to have been a happy one. At the time, Merivale was the larger church by a considerable margin (120 on the Merivale roll; 28 at City View). The ministers of the joint charge were: Rev. Robert Megaw (1925-1927); Rev. J.H. Stewart (1927-1931) and Rev. John L. Hodgson (1931-1940).

It was Rev. Hodgson who inaugurated the annual Decoration Day Service at the Merivale Cemetery. Under his leadership, the choirs of Merivale and City View united. The “United Choir” totalled some 32 voices. They sang every Sunday morning at Merivale and every Sunday evening at City View. Both church buildings had to be renovated to accommodate this choir. The two choirs separated in 1938, no doubt finding the schedule a bit strenuous. The memory of the United Choir lingers on, and group photographs are still treasured.

In November 1940, the two congregations bid Rev. Hodgson a reluctant farewell, and he left for Iroquois, Ontario.

In March 1941, Rev. Horatio Todd accepted a call to Merivale/City View. In June 1943, he was called to serve as a chaplain to the Royal Canadian Navy. The navy found his given name to be particularly appropriate. During his absence, Rev. J.H. Osterhaut, a retired minister living in Ottawa, served as supply pastor. Rev. Todd returned to his charge from 1946-1947, and was succeeded in 1947 by Rev. Edouard A. Martineau. Dwight Martineau, a son of Rev. Martineau, is still active in City View United and occasionally attends special functions at Merivale.

By 1955, City View was feeling the need for a full-time minister, as the population was growing very rapidly. On February 18, 1955, a congregational meeting resolved that City View should become a separate charge, and, soon afterwards, it was decided to call Rev. Martineau as minister. Rev. Martineau continued to serve both congregations until a successor was established at Merivale.

In 1955, Fallowfield United Church elected to join with Merivale. This has been a happy association as there are many family connections and joint activities between the two churches. Rev. C.R. Wood (1955-1962) was the first pastor. Rev. Wood had a background in Agriculture, having graduated from the Ontario Agricultural College. He had worked at the Central Experimental Farm, Ottawa, before he went into Theology. After he left Merivale/Fallowfield, he went on to St. David’s Church in Hamilton.

In 1962 Rev. William E. McDowell (1962-1966) began his ministry. It was during Rev. McDowell’s time that the decision was taken to hold Fallowfield worship services at 9:30 am, as the farming community felt that they could best schedule their chores around that hour. Rev. McDowell made an impact on a community beyond the church through his part in a multi-denominational radio broadcast “Faith in the Forum”. After 3 ½ years at Merivale/Fallowfield, he was called to King Street Church in Trenton. During Rev. McDowell’s time, the church purchased from the Nesbitt family the land for a church hall.

In 1966 Rev. J. Arthur Hockin (1966-1971) took his place and completed the project that he had initiated to build a new Christian Education Building. At the time, the Sunday School had overflown the space available in the church and was meeting in the Orange Hall on the Slack Road.

In 1967, Canada’s Centennial Year, the new Christian Education Building was opened. The CE Building is linked to the church through a tunnel.

On May 2, 1976, Merivale celebrated the 100th anniversary of the first service of worship in the present church building. The celebration began with a parade, lead by a buggy carrying the speaker, Rev. T. C. (Tommy) Douglas.
In 1988, the City widened the Merivale Road and the church reconfigured the entrance to face north, instead of east.

In 1989, the City of Nepean passed a by-law recognizing Merivale United Church as having “architectural or historical value or interest”, making it a provincially designated heritage building under the Ontario Heritage Act.

In 1997, the manse was sold, and a housing allowance for the minister was established.

In 1998, Rev. Christine Gross began her ministry at Merivale/Fallowfield.

1999: Rev. Stewart Hewlett (“RevStu”), retired from Southminster United Church, stepped in as interim minister during the extended illness of Rev. Gross. RevStu started a tradition of an annual festival of home-made ice cream for the two churches. He is remembered especially for his rapport with the children and for his hard-hitting sermons. RevStu remains with us as emeritus minister.

July 1, 2002: Rev. Martin Carnahan began his ministry. Rev. Carnahan had entered the ministry as a second career; he had previously served as a schoolteacher. He remained with the Merivale/Fallowfield Pastoral Charge for seven years, then retired to take up a third career.

January 1, 2009: We were fortunate when Ottawa Presbytery assigned Rev. Sandra Yule to the Merivale-Fallowfield Pastoral Charge, following Rev. Carnahan’s resignation. Rev. Yule is a recent graduate of Union Theological College in Montreal Following the mandatory Joint Needs Assessment and staffing procedure, Rev. Yule became our minister. The covenanting service took place May 16, 2010, with John Keddy, Chairman of the Ottawa Presbytery, officiating. Rev. Stewart Hewlett delivered the message.

SOURCES

Johnston, Allan
1999. The Church at Merivale. A Lecture for Heritage Week 1999.
Unpublished Lecture Notes.

Caldwell, J. Ernest
1932. One Hundred Years of Fruitful Work in Merivale
Prepared and Published by the Historical Committee of the Centenary Celebration in Merivale, Ontario.

Greig, Andrew S.
1987. A History of City View United Church
Published by the Authority of City View United Church. ISBN 0-9693009-0-5.

Gourlay, John L.
1896. History of the Ottawa Valley. A Collection of Facts, Events and Reminiscences for Over Half a Century. J.L. Gourlay

Smart, Mrs. R.E.
1944. A Short History of City View and Merivale
compiled for the Women’s Institute

Wilson, Helen and Wilson, Merrill
1986. 100 Years of Worship – Fallowfield United Church
Copyright 1986 by Fallowfield United Church.
ISBN: 0-9692411-0-0

Walkington, Douglas
Ross, Douglas H.
1961. A History of Bell’s Corners United Church
Unpublished booklet.

Westboro United Church
1947. Westboro United Church Historical Sketch. Methodist, Presbyterian and United Sections
1820-1847. Authorized by the Official Board of Westboro United Church.

Allen, D. M.
1999. The Merivale Cemeteries
Ottawa Branch, Ontario Genealogical Society
ISBN: 0-7779-1496-4

Elliott, Bruce S.
1991. The City Beyond
Corporation of the City of Nepean.
ISBN: 1-55036-258-5