28 Sparks St, Magnetawan, Ontario P0A 1P0
Rev. Dr. Walter Winger, (705)387-0303
Rev. Les Drayer, (705)495-4660
This account was written in 1995 from information supplied by church bulletins and church programs used for special occasions.
Knox Presbyterian Church in Magnetawan was built in 1978 but the congregation in Magnetawan had been established before that. In the year 1872 a missionary was sent out from Knox College in Toronto to Muskoka. This part of the country was just being settled by immigrants. He traveled from Muskoka on the south to Magnetawan on the north-east. In Magnetawan area there were three charges opened. Each charge promised a pledge of $2.00 per Sunday, giving the minister a salary of $312.00 per year. The church progressed rapidly and it wasn’t long before there were congregations at Spence, Port Carman, Beggsboro, Croft and at Magnetawan.
A church building was soon erected by these new congregations. The church building at Magnetawan was used as a way station for new settlers coming into the area, and many stayed in the church while being located on their own homesteads. Knox Magnetawan is one of the few older Presbyterian Churches that has retained most of its original furnishings.
The interior of the church is unique in that it offers a wonderful example of a wooden tonque and groove type of finishing. The walls and ceiling of the church are as they were originally constructed. The original brass hanging lamps are also on display in the windows.
The congregations sometime had a struggle to survive through periods of depressions, sometimes having to resort to students and lay ministers and to uniting congregations for periods of time. During the years of the Great War 1914-1918 and then considerable time after, the Methodist and Presbyterian congregations united because of the shortage of ordained men and for financial reasons. During this period, the Methodist Church supplied a minister for two years: then the Presbyterian Church supplied the minister for the next two years.
Church union took place in 1925. This was the Union of the Methodist and Presbyterian Churches to form the United Church of Canada. Knox Presbyterian Church decided after a vote to continue as the Presbyterian Church. The Presbyterian congregation was still struggling to survive. Finally, the Croft, Spence and Port Carmen churches closed and their properties were sold. Their congregations joined the Magnetawan Congregation. It is now part of a three point charge along with Sundridge and Burks’s Falls with the minister living in the manse in Burk’s Falls. The present ministers are Freda and Graham MacDonald.
The first ordained minister to come to the area was Rev. Mr. Hush Thomson. He came to Canada from Scotland in 1875 with his family, and remained in the Magnetawan district until his death at 95 years of age. In his memory, his children, Bessy, Hugh Jr., May and Robert, established a legacy to benefit the village of Magnetawan and Know church. This bequest which was received in 1975, was designated to provide medical services in Magnetawan and to aid in supporting the Presbyterian ministry in the village. The building which houses the Credit Union also contains a medical clinic staffed by doctors from Medical Associates in Parry Sound. This was made possible by this bequest.
As happened so often in the early days, not too much attention was paid to the exact location of lot lines. When the manse was no longer needed, it was sold. It was discovered that the church was sitting on part of the sold property. The decision was made to move the church over two lots to another lot owned by the congregation.
This took place on Monday morning July 27,1987. Preparations for the move had been carried out over a period of several weeks by movers from Dunchurch. The move itself took over three hours and most of the population of the village turned out to watch its progress. When the church left its old location it had to cross a small ditch. The church quivered slightly and the church bell rang. The rest of the move went smoothly and by the end of the day, the church was sitting on supports above its new footings awaiting its new foundation and completion. It gives a large basement meeting room and a new narthex at front. Wheel chair access to both meeting room and the church was made possible.