Tolling bells bring back vivid family memories of church history

Not all congregations and ministers were of like mind on amalgamation

To the Expositor:

Re: ‘Bells will be peeling to mark 90th Anniversary of the formation of the United Church of Canada,’ June 3, Page 12.

I introduced my grandfather Reverend C.T. Sylvester to your readers in August of 2002 with a letter to the editor.

We were visiting Manitoulin at that time and I happened to read the article written on the 125th anniversary of the Knox United Church in Manitowaning. We have since moved to Little Current and have had the opportunity to chat with a few of its members and have a tour of the church and take pictures.

It is interesting to learn that Bill Caesar’s grandfather, Reverend George C. Pidgeon, was the first moderator of the newly formed United Church. Bill and I have come to know each other these past few years and I am aware of his keen involvement and interest in anything Manitoulin.

It is more than likely that our grandfathers knew each other as mine was at the 1925 conference in Owen Sound to celebrate the union of the Methodists and Presbyterians. Since reading your recent article about the “Tolling of the Bells” on June 10, it again reminded me of the picture of the delegates to the conference. One of my cousins is in possession of it but I remember it vividly hanging above the piano in my grandparents home. There was over a hundred delegates in the picture and my grandfather is in the front row with his top coat over his arm.

Rev. C.T. served at the “Union Church” in Manitowaning from 1920 to 1924. I imagined that he worked hard during those few years of transition as he was a delegate to the conference. After the amalgamation of the churches, the family was transferred to Englehart, Ontario. My understanding is that my grandfather was in favour of the union and his new parishioners weren’t of the same mind. He subsequently took a leave of absence for a time and was later assigned to the Rydel Bank, Bruce Mines and Sault Ste. Marie area in the Algoma Presbytery of the United Church of Canada.

Rev. C.T. Sylvester passed away in 1948 at the age of 68.

I plan to attend the Tolling of the Bells here in Little Current.

Dave Sylvester

Little Current