This part of the website is an updated copy of Dunford, Fraser - Places of Worship - Peterborough County - Kawartha Branch, Ontario Genealogical Society (2004). This book is out of print.
Searching for old church records is much like searching for a needle in a haystack, on a very dark night, in the middle of a blinding snowstorm. An early congregation can be known by different names. The official records of the denomination may not be very accurate so that congregation could be omitted in a year, or mis-named. The very early records could be anywhere in the world, if they exist at all. Since the records were made and kept by the minister, they frequently went with him as he moved – to another part of Ontario, to Western Canada, to the United States or England or Australia. Those records could still exist but the current holders may have no idea that they are looking at Ontario records. Some records fell into private hands and are now held by people who refuse to let anyone look at them.
Many records are lost due to fire, flood, and human disinterest.
This work seeks to list, within Peterborough County:
– what churches / congregations / preaching places existed, when and where
– when church buildings were erected, closed, destroyed
– who the ministers were and when
– what records exist and where.
This work does not attempt to provide a history of each church, but it does list histories as part of a church’s records.
I have attempted to show where the information comes from, whether with the information itself or at the beginning of the chapter on that congregation. I have given greater weight to official denominational records such as yearbooks and less weight to the ubiquitous congregation history booklets, which I have found surprisingly inaccurate. In many cases I have quoted both, or disagreeing official records, to indicate that there may be doubt.
In as work of this nature, vocabulary becomes a significant problem. The word “church” can mean
a building, a congregation, or a denomination. Usually it is used here to refer to a building, but the other
meanings are sometimes unavoidable. The context should make it clear: “The United Church” means the denomination,
“the Lakefield United Church” means the congregation or the building.
Different denominations use different words to describe certain things. If this were a work on one denomination, it would be best to use that denomination’s vocabulary. But this is a work on many denominations and a reader is likely to flip back and forth between the denominations. Different vocabularies would make the reader’s job confusing, so I use a standard vocabulary.
to and from refers to the movement of a congregation to and from a denomination. Apsley - Trinity Church came from the Methodist Church and went to the United Church of Canada.
The greatest vocabulary difficulty comes for the collective noun for a number of congregations under one minister. The Presbyterians called this a “field”, the Methodists a “circuit”, the Anglicans a “Parish” and United a “charge” and I have tried to keep those words where they were used. When I could not sort out the proper word or need a collective for the collectives (as in this introduction), I tended to use “circuit”.
Many authors (sometimes church authors) have not understood the significance between (eg) Apsley the congregation, Apsley the church, and Apsley the circuit and so slide from one to the other, sometimes in the same sentence. I cannot guarantee that I have successfully untangled these unwitting messes. As best I can, I have attempted to differentiate, and give separate entries for the church/congregation and the circuit/charge/field, even (indeed particularly) when they had the same name.
If a congregation C is in a circuit A, the information for C will contain a statement “date range see A”, and A may or may not have a statement “date range consists of ... , C, ...”. If a congregation moves from circuit A to circuit B (a very common occurrence!) then the information may occur three times: in C “date range see B”, in A “date C moved to B”, in B “date C moved from A”. The last two are not always there.>/p>
Dates are sometimes given with a “<“ before or a “>” after. These indicate “or could be earlier” and “or could be later” respectively. The word “date” is used to indicate an incumbent as of 2003.
I have tried to mark any place where I put an interpretation on the information with the word “assume”.>/p>
I have attempted to use bold type as an aid to navigation. So many entries have to refer to other entries and where these are significant, such as a name change, I have used bold.
This is not a complete work: it probably never will be. It will contain errors. If you can add or correct, please contact me, through the Kawartha Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society (address at the front of the book). Collectively, we can help explain an amazingly complex and surprisingly fascinating component of our forebears lives.
The information is provided in sections by denomination and within each section alphabetically by location. If a place is known by different names (or if a building had its location name changed) the names are cross-referenced.
There are also two indexes. One is by congregation name, so you can find every congregation named “St Andrews” or “Zion” (and good luck to you on both!!). The second index is by minister name. Note the religion short forms that are listed at the beginning of the congregation index.
The minister’s names in the main denomination section are as listed in the source material, which frequently implies first names as initials only. In the index by minister name, I have additionally referred to indexes in the archives (such as the card index of clergy at AAT). These frequently give the full name of the minister, which I have used in the index. There may also be spelling differences – I have used the index as the authority. I have not converted the initials to full name unless that minister was specifically listed in the source index as at that location at that time. This a safety feature – there are two Anglican ministers named John McCleary in neighbouring parishes at the same time and I cannot guarantee that the same has not happened elsewhere, so guessing that all references to “J Smith” refer to one person is dangerous!