by Myrtle Bromley, 1939, with notes from newspaper clippings
The name of Henry Bromley is recorded as one of the first church wardens of the Pembroke Mission, which was the beginning of Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Pembroke, Ontario. The history of the parish extends well over three-quarters of a century, the first recorded meeting taking place on March 27, 1855.
In the earliest days the parish went by the name of the Pembroke Mission and its affairs were managed by a church committee, made up of the incumbent, The Rev. E.H. M. Baker, and give church wardens: W. H. Gibson and Dr. John D. Clendinnern of Pembroke, Henry Bromley of Westmeath, Robert Childerhose of Stafford, and Edward Davis of Wilberforce.
It was a very large parish, embracing the townships of Pembroke, Westmeath, Stafford and Wilberforce, and it formed part of a large diocese. A House near the river front, at the corner of Cecelia and Nelson streets, was used as a rectory, and from there, as a center, the clergyman radiated through his huge parish, chiefly on horseback. Those were the days of pounds, shillings and pence, scarce articles apparently, for in the churchwarden’s accounts the stipend was partly made up of merchandise, provisions and such like.
The services for the first few years were held in a hall belonging to T.A. Bingham, a member of the congregation. It was loaned free of charge and was used solely for church purposes. In the minutes it is spoken of as the chapel. In 1858, however, the basement of the Orange hall was leased for a term of 3 years. The lease does not seem to have been renewed, for in 1862 we find them using the Town Hall.
On the arrival of the Rev. W. Henderson, in 1862, Stafford and Westmeath townships were cut off and put under the care of his predecessor Rev. Campbell. Payments toward the stipend were still partly in kind and charged to the givers credit accounting. To their market value, now reckoned in dollars and cents; for example; on May 12th 1868, 1 bag of potatoes $1.20; Dec. 13th, 2 quarters mutton (unable to read); 1 turkey 50cents; 3 cwt. Hay $3.00; and in 1869, 1 bag of flour $3.00; 1 bag oats $1.40; 2 lbs. Butter 30 cents; 2 doz. Eggs 25 cents.
Steps were taken toward the erection of a church building in 1863, which became Holy (looks like Trinity) Church in Pembroke St., East, where the congregation worshiped until a new church was erected and dedicated on January 17th, 1926.
No records are available that reveal when the Westmeath congregation began to worship in the Orange hall in Westmeath Front, where services were conducted for many years prior to the erection of St. Mary’s Anglican Church, which was dedicated on January 8th, 1899 by Bishop Hamilton of Ottawa.
Lengthy intervals had occurred in which the mission was without service. In the Fall of 1882, the Rev. Samuel Daw arrived at Beachburg. He resided at the home of Mr. and Mrs. John Griffith until his marriage to Miss Jessie Fraser of Westmeath on Sept. 4, 1883, when he took up residence in the Rectory, which was purchased from Mr. John Shaw, by the Beachburg Missioncomposed of the Beachburg, Cobden, Forester’s Falls and Westmeath congregations.
It was a happy day on which Henry Bromley became possessor of the first wagon in the vicinity in which he, accompanied by his family and friends rumbled to church. It was followed by the buckboard, buggy, carriage, and in later years, the automobile. Henry and his brother James and the latter’s wife, (who was formerly Elizabeth Larmour) lived to see the erection of the beautiful little stone edifice in which their grandchildren and great-grandchildren worship today.
St. Augustine’s Church, Beachburg
Short months after its opening in January of 1899, the funeral rites for Mr. William Bromley was a cause for “considerable unpleasantness” at the church: 1899 The Ottawa Journal.
“During the early 70’s the Mission of Beachburg was ministered to by the Rev. J.H. Simpson. After the departure of Rev. J. H. Simpson, an interval of spiritual darkness ensued owing to the impossibility of the Bishop to find a suitable missionary, but later the Rev. Frances Cadd arrived and took up residence in what is now known as the Central Telephone Office. During his incumbency services were in the Orange Hall situated on the bank of the Pond. After the departure of Mr. Cadd another lengthy interval occurred in which the Mission of Beachburg was without services. Later services were again held in the Town Hall by the Rev. James H. (unable to read) was in charge of the Mission of Stafford. He came to Beachburg once a month to hold services and helped organize a committee to establish a fund for the purpose of building a church.”
“A bazaar and concert were planned for Sept. 1883 when the Rev. F. Harvey arrived with the Rev. Samuel Daw, who was appointed Missionary to Beachburg. At the same time, the property belonging to Mr. Shaw, the mill owner, (who had presented the ground on the opposite side of the “Pond” for the site of the Church) –was bought for a Rectory.” The Village of Shawville, Pontiac County, Quebec, is named for him.
“Note: St. Augustine’s Church was opened by Bishop Lewis of Ottawa on May 26, 1883, on which occasion 72 from all parts of the Mission-Beachburg, Westmeath, Cobden and Forester’s Falls – were confirmed.” -From the “Beachburg Centenary Booklet”, by Mabel D. McMillan
St. Augustine’s Stained Glass
This small church hosts examples of some of the finest stained glass artwork of the Ottawa Valley and is well worth a visit.
In the 1871 entry for Beachburg(h) in the Gazetteer for that year Dr. George Forbes is listed as the village doctor. These three dedications memorialize he and his family.
Two inscriptions are on banners below the pictures on the Forbes windows and are most appropriate for a medical doctor as they read: “I was sick and He visited me.” and “He cured many of their infirmities.”
Later in 1952, Miss Kathleen Forbes’ estate provided a bequest to build a church hall and renovations were undertaken.
On display in St. Augustine’s is the Alter Cross for St. Mary’s, inscribed and dedicated to the memory of John E. Bromley and Mae Bromley Hennessy. After St. Mary’s was closed it was moved over to Beachburg.
Similarly the church bell which first hung in Forester’s Falls was moved to the Beachburg Anglican Church. It was a very special bell having been in service on the S.S. Canopic of the White Star Line. Click here for further information.
Compiled by Noreen Desjardins for the Westmeath Tweedsmuir Book, 1975
It is not determined when the Anglican congregation started to worship in Westmeath Front as most of the records of that period were destroyed by a fire which burned the home of John E. Bromley in 1912. It is known however that church services were held in a building situated at the Gore line corner in the village.
In 1898 the congregation felt that it needed a better church in which to worship so the present site was donated by Thomas Mansell and St. Mary’s Church was erected and dedicated on January 8, 1899 by Bishop Hamilton of Ottawa.
The stone was drawn by horse from the farm of Joseph Melancon and most of the labour done by men of the congregation. Henry Bromley, father of Harry Bromley, who was one of the first wardens of the Pembroke Mission, lived to see the erection of the picturesque stone edifice.
A large shed was erected at the back of the property to accommodate the many teams of horses which were tied inside both winter and summer. This shed also held the stove wood, donated by members of the congregation, which warmed the church quite adequately. Gas lamps suspended from the ceiling, were the means of lighting in the church. The church was enhanced with a beautiful stained glass window.
In 1949, the small congregation began work to make it the most beautiful church in the Deanery. A three-year plan or restoration and redecoration has made this lovely old stone church a beauty spot within the area. The exterior stonework was re-pointed quite effectively; the new mortar blended to match the existing work. The rough pasture-like land was ploughed and the whole area leveled and seeded. The interior was painted and re-varnished, with the floor painted and a carpet laid. Electric lights were installed in 1950 making the church a bright and constant centre of worship for the congregation.
In 1962 a much desired gas furnace was installed to replace the old box stove. The cost of all improvements has been borne entirely by the small congregation consisting of eight families; without benefit of any money-raising schemes. This brief history is tacit evidence of what a congregation can do, if the will to serve God and to love Him is a force in life.
Several members of the congregation have the distinction of many years of service towards the worship of God. These being Mrs. Hazel Conroy, who has been faithful at the organ for over forty years and has donated her talent freely. She rarely misses a Sunday only when it is impossible to attend. Mr. Harry Bromley has served as Warden for over fifty years and has served other offices as well. He has donated much time and effort towards the maintenance of the church. Mr. Clyde Brown has served as treasurer for over twenty years when he resigned in 1970 to his successor Mrs. Noreen Desjardins.
The following is a list of the incumbents, one of whom, the Rev. C.P. Anderson went to the United States and became the Bishop of Chicago and Presiding Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States.
Reverends, (following on with the listing in Bromley text above):
With the turn of a new century in 2000, the dwindling congregation had to face a very hard decision. No longer was little St. Mary’s able to attract new parishioners or serve a spiritual need in the Westmeath Community. So on Sept. 20th 2009, the small congregation held the final service where this address was given: St.Mary’s Anglican Last Words
The building was put up for sale and now has a new future as a gift shop called The Emporium. The beautiful little stone church is still on display in the village.
For further historical reference regarding Churches in Historic Westmeath Township click here.
An inquiry regarding attaining copies of these registries received the following reply from the Archivist, Anglican Diocese Ottawa.
“We have baptism, confirmation, marriage and burial registers covering both Saint Mary’s Church, Westmeath, and Saint Augustine’s Church, Beachburg in our collection. Even though Westmeath is not listed with separate registers, it is covered in registers listed under Beachburg, Cobden, Stafford and Pakenham.
“To answer your questions, we do not sell photocopies of our parish registers. We do not allow them to be photocopied or photographed. We do not allow them to be transcribed in whole or in large part to be published. Their contents are not available online.
“We do allow researchers to have access to these records, within the constraints of the federal privacy Act. We allow researchers to visit us two days a week — Mondays and Tuesdays — from 9:00 to 12:00 in the morning, and from 1:00 to 4:00 in the afternoon, and paying modest fees we charge. Those who are unable to visit us have the option of hiring our researchers, who charge for this research at a rate of forty dollars per hour. Both visitors and researches can take advantage of a data-base index, searchable by name, to locate the people they are searching for.”