124 Sparks St., Magnetawan, Ontario P0A 1P0
Parish of Almaguin and the Good Shepherd
2180 Hwy 592, Box 160, Emsdale, ON, P0A 1J0
Sandra Tucker (705) 387-3724
Sundays at 11am (Easter through Thanksgiving)
Written by Mary Putman in 1984
The Anglican Church in Magnetawan was constructed in 1880, one of the most unique buildings in the area. In that year the Rev. Crompton and parishioners built the “Church on a Rock.”
In 1880, Magnetawan served as the centre of the Anglican Mission. Wm. Crompton, as well as building churches, served the pioneer communities and their churches.
In July of 1884, the Rev. Arthur Young arrived in Magnetawan to become the first resident minister in the village. Rev. Young took part in the consecration of the church in 1887. He remained until 1892.
In 1896, after being without a minister for a few year, Rev. D.A. Johnson arrived and remained until 1899, when Rev. W.H. French took over. Before leaving in 1905, Rev. French saw two more churches consecrated, St. Andrew’s in Dunchurch and St. Peter’s in Midlothian, by the Bishop on September 4, 1902. Rev. S.F. Yeomans took over the charge from Rev. French. He was followed by Rev. P. Bull who served from 1090 to 1912. Rev. W.H. Trickett served the mission for the next two years.
On February 14, 1915, Rev. J. Thompson was inducted by Bishop Thornloe. It was thought that this was the first and only time that an induction service by a Bishop was held in St. George’s.
On arrival of Rev. W.H. Smith on September 2, 1921 at St. George’s, he said, “The faithful are few.” About five years later upon his leaving St. George’s he said “The few are faithful.”
In the late 1920s, St. George’s was added to the Burk’s Falls Mission, which had grown larger over the years and has remained so.
In 1980, St. George’s celebrated one hundred years in Magnetawan with Rev. Duncan Lyon, whoserved the parishes of Burk’s Falls, Magnetawan, South River, Sundridge, and Eagle Lake. To mark this occasion, church members refurbished the exterior of the building with new siding. Also installed were new stained glass windows, a new dorsal curtain and chancel steps.
On August 3, 1980 a special ceremony took place, with the Bishop of Algoma, the Very Rev. Frank Nock officiating at a special communion service. By this time, the church had approximate congregation of fifteen to twenty members. In the summer months, with the influx of American tourists, the congregation increases to 45 and 60 each Sunday.
The first minister, Rev. Compton, was well known in the area, having been instrumental in the building of twenty-two churches in the Parry Sound area and Muskoka. Some are All Saints in Burk’s Falls lost to fire in 1881, St. Mark’s in Emsdale, St. Paul’s in Sequin, St. John’s at Dufferin Bridge, Holy Trinity at Pearceley and St. Peter’s at Midlothian. The latter four are no longer standing.
The pioneers were dedicated Anglicans. A quote from Historical Notes by T.B. Higginson bears this out ‘Sunday, October 2 was a very cold and stormy one. Just as I (Rev. Crompton) was going to service in Magnetawan church at 2 p.m. , I was told by the church warden that some parents were coming a great distance to have their children baptized. Knowing that the lake (Se-Sebe) was exceedingly rough, I waited half an hour, but as I had another service ten miles away at 7 p.m . I could wait no longer. We had a goodly congregation of about 50 and a hearty service. We were leaving the church, when we saw people coming along waving their handkerchiefs. It proved to be the parents and their friends. The father had rowed thirteen miles down the lake in real danger. I got to Midlothian with eight minutes to spare, but no time so much as to eat, but just time to wash my hands and go into the service. I had about 67 adults at the service, eight of whom had come eight miles and four thirteen miles.”
In 1953 to mark the fact that many of the parishioners in the summer are American, a flag was presented. The Stars and Stripes now hang in the church along with the Union Jack.
In 1981, The Rev. Duncan Lyon left St. George’s and the Rev. Elliott Shepherd took his place.
A painting by A.J. Casson, one of the later “Group of seven” Canadian painters, entitled “The Anglican Church at Magnetawan” hangs in the National Art Gallery in Ottawa. In 1980 Mr. Casson gave permission to have prints of his painting made to celebrate the Centenial Year. The following year this painting was produced on a limited number of plates by the Franklin Mint.