THEN AND NOW: Minesing Methodist Church turns 125

Masonry work on the English Gothic-style church, designed by Eustace Bird, began in July 1896, and opening services followed on January 17, 1897.

This ongoing series from Barrie Historical Archives curator Deb Exel shows old photos from the collection and one from the present day, along with the story behind them.

Minesing Methodist Church

Not the first, but probably the last united church in the village of Minesing.

The very first Methodist Church in Minesing was built in 1868 on land purchased for one dollar. The church became an independent charge in 1884, with Edenvale and Anten Mills forming the mining circuit.

Early in 1896, the firm of Eustace Bird and Eden Smith issued a tender for the construction of a new Methodist church in Minesing. Eustace Bird, architect, son of famous Barrie architect shear birddesigned several significant buildings in Barrie, including the Grand Opera in 1896-1897, before leaving for New York in 1898 to implement his project for the main branch of the New York Public Library on 5th Avenue.

The new Minesing Church would be built on the site of the old one.

Masonry work on English Gothic style church started in July 1896, starting with the stone basement. By mid-September, the brickwork was progressing well, with six men working on it. The exterior of the church was quite solid, with long tapering buttresses projecting from the eaves to the base of the building, giving it a unique appearance. Beneath the belfry was a rose window, with buttresses also at the front portico. Beautiful stained glass windows lined both sides of the church.

Inside the warm air-heated church, opera chairs provided the seating and a deep crimson carpet covered the floors of the altar, pulpit platform and apse at the back of the church, where the organ and choir would be. It was considered an extremely beautiful church, and the residents of Minesing were very pleased with the new building.

Over time, the church would change, as they so often do. In 1925, Methodist and Presbyterian congregations in Minesing merged to form the new United Church of Canada.

There would also be physical changes. In the 1950s, a kitchen was built in the basement, a dedicated electric organ, an oil-fired furnace installed, and organ chimes added in the sanctuary. The Christian Education Wing was built in the 1960s, and Minesing United Church took in members of the Edenvale congregation when their church closed. Further improvements, such as a replacement organ and a new digital piano followed in the 1970s.

the brick church designed by Eustace Bird held its opening services on January 17, 1897, with morning, afternoon and evening sermons. The following night the church was full again. After a hearty dinner in the basement, upstairs there was music and an inspiring address. When the hat was distributed, $1,000 was collected to cover the church’s remaining debt. It was an impressive and joyful day in Minesing for a grateful congregation.

And now, 125 years and three months to the day after that first service, the last service in the old Minesing Methodist Church will take place on April 17, 2022.

Jerry B. Hatch