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McConnell Church Histories



The following is from pages 17 to 19 of
McConnell Little Town Lost, 1982

(Click on Picture to Enlarge)



The districts of Viola Dale to the south and Ellenville to the north intertwined with McConnell in both school and church history.

A meeting in 1882 in Mr. F. Middleton's store led to the start of the church and Sunday School held in homes. In 1885 a school was built, church being held there until 1905 when the church was built on the S.E. corner of W. Brown's farm about 3 miles S.E. of McConnell. This was Viola Dale.

When the manse was built in McConnell in the fall of 1910, church was held there and in the station until the hall was built. Viola Dale still had services. In 1918 this church was bought for $800, moved to McConnell by Tom Holatz using two steam engines, Alymer McConnell, R. King, Sr., and Hubert Pollock helping.

Some of the people north and east of McConnell attended church held at Holylea school; these were Methodist and Anglican services alternating. They started in 1898. One of the ministers was Rev. Caleb Parker, who built the Parker home in 1905. He later returned to active ministry.

Anglican services continued until 1925 but the Methodists joined with McConnell when the church opened in 1919 with Rev. Donaghy as minister. Our record book starts January 16, 1905 with Ellenville minutes. Jan. 8, 1924 is the first record we have of the McConnell congregational minutes, continuing to 1972 when the church closed.

Always a vote of thanks was tendered to the Ladies' Aid for support of work and money. In a few reports the ladies were asked to put on a social to help clear the debt. Usually, this took place at John Killoh's home.

On April 21, 1921, a meeting was called to consider admitting Lavinia into the McConnell-Marland-Ellenville field and forming same into a Union Charge. After discussion the following resolution was made - moved by Wm. McConnell and J. Reid that this meeting is in favour of dispensing with our church services at Ellenville to give the congregation liberty to unite with McConnell-Lavinia-Marland as a Union field providing that this is favourable to McConnell and Marland. Carried. This arrangement caused some to go to Shoal Lake, some to McConnell, and some to Lavinia.

Usually the minister acted as a chairman for Christmas concerts and other events. Often his wife helped with organ and choir. The manse was always open for meetings and visitors. Mostly there was a well tended garden.

On a Sunday, May 23, 1954 just after the service, the church was completely destroyed by fire. Interest in the church was never so great, as meetings were held and well attended. Offers of help were received. After several meetings, the congregation voted to purchase Chumah Church for $2000. In December, this church was moved to McConnell. All groups worked towards reconditioning the church and in the meantime, church and Sunday School were held in the hall or school. The church was opened Oct. 30, 1955. Rev. J. Maxwell conducted the dedication service, Rev. J.F. Douglas, interim pastor of Hamiota United, was guest speaker, (Rev. Douglas had preached at Viola Dale in 1903 and again in 1912 at McConnell field). A gift of a pulpit Bible, given by Mrs. Fowlie in memory of her husband and daughter (Mrs. R. Knight) was also dedicated. (Mrs. C. Bell, Hamiota, now has this Bible.)

Most mid-week groups of the church have functioned, some through the school, Brownies and later Mission Band. The primary teacher gave her Friday P.M. class over to these meetings and assisted the leader, usually a Ladies' Aid member. The C.G.I.T., Trail Rangers, and Explorers met through the week or on Saturday afternoons. The school teachers were often leaders of these groups as well as Sunday School teachers, choir members, and community helpers. The minister and his wife were also a great help in all these activities. Mrs. J.C. Richardson led a large and enthusiastic Young People's Society for several years. This was later the Young Adult Group, and both groups put on many 3 act plays and debates.