9 Sparks St. Box 7, Magnetawan Ontario P0A 1P0
This history has been compiled from information in reports written by Stanley Raaflaub, on the occasion of church anniversaries and dedications and from the comments by Vern and Fred Raaflaub in church bulletins. September 1995.
With the influx of settlers to Magnetawan and Chapman Township in the years 1875-85, came more than twenty-five families of German and Swiss ancestry, many of them Lutheran faith. They came in from Rosseau via the Nippissing Road which was by all reports still a hard trip at that time. They arrived in Magnetawan and Chapman to build new homes.
Some of the German Settlers came from lower Ontario and United States, but most of the Swiss families came directly from Switzerland. Some of them had quite hard times at first because they did not settle on good land and had to relocate; but they were pleased to be in this great new country of peace free from military service and free to work their own way.
They were a determined people and stayed together to form what was later called the German settlement on the north side of the river around the fourth and fifth concessions of Chapman Township and east on what was called the Hungry Lake Road, at Port Carmen, Cecebe and towards Burk’s Falls. With so may Lutheran people in one settlement they must have felt a great need for a pastor to serve their spiritual needs. Since the records arte few it is not known how the word got around but about 1878 Rev. J. Adams Ernst of the Missouri synod at Elmira made a trip to the area. The government gave him some land for church purposes and he in turn gave it to the Lutheran congregation. However, the church was not built on this lot perhaps because there was
No road to it, but they did use a potion of a Lutheran Cemetery. The lot also provided logs and timber to build a church on Lot 25, concessions 5 of Chapman, about three miles from Magnetawan. Wm. Hoerner had donated an acre of land in 1882. The church was built well up on the hill on rock bottom.
In 1880, a missionary was sent to hold services, but he stayed only for one service. For the next two years two different pastors served during the vacancy. In 1882, a candidate, W. Gans came. He was ordained and installed, and the new church was dedicated at this time, taking the name Immanuel Lutheran Church. The German language was used in the services for about twenty years. The salary for Pastor Gans was $300.00 per year plus transportation, which was mainly a horse and saddle. The parsonage was completed in 1882. Later a classroom was added to it and used for general education before there was a public school, and later for religious instructions.
About 1887, services were being held in Magnetawan and some of the members moved to the village and attended services there. By 1916, the “Chapman” church was closed and the remaining members joined the Magnetawan congregation. The church in Chapman was taken down after about thirty-five years use.
In the 1880s the Lutheran in Magnetawan had been holding services in homes and other places in the village until the first Lutheran Church in the village was built on the east side of Albert Street up on the hill. Some of the Lutheran who had helped build the Chapman Church and later joined the Magnetawan congregation were involved in the building of this second Lutheran church in the area, just about twelve years after the first one was built. It is believed that this church was dedicated in 1885.
Services were held in this church until it suffered quite severe wind damage in 1913. The congregation in Magnetawan had taken the name St. Paul’s Lutheran and used this first building for about twenty years. Because of the wind damage to the church and because the congregation did not own the land, the land was very stony and also because the owner wanted twenty-five dollars for the property, it was decided to move to another location which had been purchased several years before by the congregation. When it was purchased there was a house on the property which was used as a parsonage in later years.
In 1913, a start was made on the foundation for the new church and the building was completed in 1914 using some of the material from the church on the hill. This second church was only about fifty feet north of the present building. According to the records available, no special dedication services were held, but it was in use for the Christmas season of 1914. The church was used until February 1964, for a period of fifty years. At this time the present church was far enough advanced to hold services. Between February 1964 and the dedication of the present church on October 10, 1965, much of the interior, window, finish, etc., was taken from the “old church” and installed in the new one.
The year 1995 marks the thirtieth anniversary of this present Lutheran Church. It also marks the one hundredth anniversary of the Lutheran congregation in the village.