175th ANNIVERSARY OF ST. JOHN'S CHURCH, JORDAN
researched and written by Joyce Short
DID YOU KNOW? Yes, Jordan did exist in 1841. Originally called St. Mary's, it boasted 2 hotels (of which 1 remains), and the main street was already surveyed and divided into lots. There was a school, a post office, a blacksmith, cabinetmaker, shoemaker, store, saddler, tailor and wagonmaker. They even had arrangements for commuters! A stage coach made a daily trip from Queenston to Hamilton and back. A doctor named Followay arrived in 1849 to provide medical care for the community.
DID YOU KNOW? WATER - lots of it and a constant supply - that was what was needed for places like Jordan to exist. Water to operate mills, for grinding grain, for sawing wood and for easy transport. Did you know that there was ship-building in the lower valley, that grain and flour were shipped via "the 20" from Deep Hollow to Jordan Harbour and beyond by schooner to Montreal? Deep Hollow awas the name given to the crossing of "the 20" which we locally call "red bridge" and it was the only crossing at that time.
DID YOU KNOW? Well before 1841, the falls above Balls Falls (south of the falls with which we are so familiar) had enough water to suppport more mill operations and they formed the base for yet another community known as Glen Elgin with several small pioneer homes, a woolen mill and lime kilns.
DID YOU KNOW? Two things were to change the local economy in the mid 1800's. As more and more trees were cut for ships' masts and for construction and as the land was cleared for grain growing etc., the water flow diminished especially seasonally. Therefore a constant power source no longer existed. Also the building of the wooden bridge over the 20 mile creek for the new Great Western Railway in 1852 meant the ships could no longer come as far south to pick up cargo.
DID YOU KNOW? St. John's Church was built on 4 acres of land, originally owned by George Ball. (The same George Ball was the owner of the land now known as Balls Falls Conservation Area. ) That original polot of land was a valley location dipping down to what is now McKenzie Drive and up the other side where the houses are. A drainage ditch, recently covered in to make room for more burial plots, ran through the bottom of the valley. There was only one driveway and that came up the hill from the east as it does now.
DID YOU KNOW? Construction of the church began in 1841 - the first service was held in 1842. Our area was still known as Upper Canada and with a sparse population, our church affairs were overseen by Bishop Strachan, Diocese of Toronto, overseeing all of Niagara. Thus our dedication service was delayed and did not take place until May 15, 1854.
DID YOU KNOW? Church records reveal that for the first four years, parishioners sat on planks - there were no pews. The original windows were plain glass as are the pair on the west side of the church.
DID YOU KNOW? In this day of ‘do-it-yourself furniture….i.e. press board and Allen wrenches…we would do well to stop and marvel at the skill of craftsmen whose legacy we probably take for granted as we worship here each Sunday. Working with locally sourced walnut, with no electricity or power tools, our pulpit and reading desk have stood tall and solid, created by the skill of a Mr. Springer in 1846 (then refinished in the ‘80’s by parishioners Clem Fuzzen and Bill Jackson, both now deceased). Attention to detail shows the gothic panels repeated in the end of the pews. As you take communion, pause to admire our broad altar rail and the stout columns supporting it, again in solid walnut.
DID YOU KNOW? St. John's was a MISSION CHURCH until 1956. Thus our early congregation paid very little toward the salary of the rector or to the support of the whole diocese concentrating instead on the local parish. We have been SELF-SUPPORTING since 1956 when Rev. Bowden Taylor was the rector.
DID YOU KNOW? In the early years, our rector came from St. John's Church in Port Dalhousie. In this day and age, it is hard to imagine the difficulties of travel by horse over "roads" that were little more than dirt tracks in summer and impossible snow drifts in winter. Back then, our King Street, formerly Highway 8, was called the Queenston to Grimsby Road.
DID YOU KNOW? In the early years, most parishioners from farms in the area travelled by horse-drawn buggy or sleigh to attend church. In 1872, a shed was constructed, with volunteer labour and donated materials, to shelter the horses during the service. Jean Holder Waterhouse remembered when the shed was torn down and materials recycled in 1932.
DID YOU KNOW? Unlike other early churches in the area where worshippers were satisfied with log or frame structures, our forefathers built the first Tractarian church in Canada West. Skillfully constructed by local masons Andrew Dalrymple and Newton Perry using local stone, it probably followed the design of John George Howard. Yes, there is a basement not quite full height, still with its earthen floor. Remember there were no stained glass windows until much later. Carpenter Robert Haines was responsible for “finishing” all interior work, including the first few pews.
DID YOU KNOW? St.John’s first rectory was dedicated in 1949 following 5 years of fundraising. A modest 3 bedroom, 1 bath 1 1/2storey brick and frame structure was situated on the slope, east of our cemetery, accessed by a gravel driveway from the bottom of the hill. The basement was divided so that there was a small room for Sunday School - enrollment 11 children. There was no municipal water to either church or rectory until 1963. (Previously, the rector had lived in a rental in Jordan Station.)
DID YOU KNOW? The first rectory was built in 1949. By 1979, that structure seemed "tired", out of date and no longer adequate for a rector's needs. In 1980, the new rectory at 3685 McKenzie Drive was built on land we already owned, adjacent to the "old rectory". It was a spacious bi-level with attached double garage, two washrooms, rector's study, and a large family room/meeting room, all on a afully serviced lot. The first rectory was demolished, the land severed and sold (now 3665 McKenzie Drive). Again the mortgage was paid off in record time. But times change; rectors like to make their own decisions about wehre to live so in 2013, 3685 McKenzie Drive was sold and the money invested with the diocese from which we receive regular payments.
DID YOU KNOW? In the 1970’s, St.John’s was the setting for a retired seniors group which called itself the Club of the Twenty. Men and women from Jordan Station, Vineland, and surrounding area started in the old parish hall with 30 members and over the years, grew to 200. Meeting in the new parish hall, there was lots to do: cards, quilting, lunch, monthly dinners, chartered trips, music and laughter. Best of all, there was fellowship among members who came from Mennonite, United and Disciple congregations. The credit for the success of this group goes to then Rector John Course. For a time, he even led a once a month Wednesday morning worship service for the group.
DID YOU KNOW? In the 1970’s, the Government created the New Horizons program offering special financial assistance to seniors wanting to create a space for leisure activities. Our Club of the Twenty, using St.John’s parish hall for its activities, were able to get funding for tables and chairs, dishes, cooking utensils, even the shuffleboard court in the brand new gym floor, all of which benefited our parish as well.
DID YOU KNOW? Have you noticed that we have two Baptismal fonts in our church? The font we use most often is the one at the front. It was given in 1913 and dedicated in memory of William L. Sherk. As you leave the church, take the time to admire the font at the back. It had been used in St.Mark’s until it closed in December of 2007.
DID YOU KNOW? The first women's church organization for St. John's was formed in 1897 with just 5 members. The first money raised by the Ladies Aid was used to buy a stole for the clergyman and "matting" for the church. In 1912, the members of the Ladies Aid joined with the Women's Auxiliary and from that time, they were known as W.A.
DID YOU KNOW? It was a legacy of $500 given by a John C. Johnson in 1922 that got the congregation thinking about installing stained glass windows. The first, our spectacular east window, was donated by Susan Boyle in memory of her husband and daughter. From a legacy from Elizabeth Zimmerman, one of the first organists at St. John's, another window was installed. Other windows followed in memory of the first rector, the first people's warden and the first Rector's warden.
DID YOU KNOW? The postwar population growth was reflected in the increased attendance at Church with its accompanying need for space for Sunday School. Our recently constructed rectory of 1949 had a full basement so a room was setup for the first 11 students. It was not long before more space was needed so an extension of that basement was built with much volunteer labour. Thus our first parish hall came into existence and was dedicated in 1955.
DID YOU KNOW? Our church tower was used a lookout during the first World War. For many years, St. John's Drive was a toll road too!
DID YOU KNOW? We do not know what instrument was used in the early church but records do show that there have been at least 5 different organs used over the years at St. John's. Apparently they were all donated, many of which were already well used. Our present organ (1984) replaced a Hammond electric organ which had been purchased new in the 50's.
DID YOU KNOW? The early Anglican church in Upper Canada was a mission church supported by the home church in England. The rectors they sent here were graduates of Oxford, Cambridge or Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. They arrived with wives and children ready to establish the church in Niagara where methodists, Disciples and Mennonites were also starting churches of their own.
DID YOU KNOW? An undated memorandum states that our church building cost a little more than 559 British Pounds. Two grants were received from England - one for 45 Pounds from the Propogation of the Gospel and the other for 69 Pounds from the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. At the time, an acre of cleared land in 1850 was worth 7 Pounds 3 shillings (about $30)!
DID YOU KNOW? In this day of alarm systems and "Who's got the key?" it is hard to imagine that not long ago, our churches were left open so anyone could visit for quiet contemplation. As recently as the mid 70's when Rev. John Course was rector, talk of locking the church created a problem - where was the key? After much searching, it was located in the church safe!