The first church services were held in Hector McLaren’s barn on the same lot where the present church is located. W.A. Edwards, writing in 1936 for the 90th anniversary of the church, notes, Aughrim was a goodly distance from St Matthew’s at Victoria [Florence] and the road was over hill and dale, through swamps and bogs and over every difficulty imaginable. Oft times the good missionary and his horse lost their way, but few men could stand up to the Reverend John Gunne physically, or possessed his zeal for carrying the gospel to the remotest places, journeying to and fro, from log cabin to log cabin, welcoming the settlers, sharing their toils and privations, visiting the sick, nursing the solitary settler, baptizing the babies, marrying the young folks, closing the eyes of the dead and pronouncing the last sacred and solemn benediction.
1587 Downie Road
RR2 Bothwell, ON
The St John’s congregation built its first church, a large-for-the-day frame structure, in 1856. In 1898 a new brick church seating 106 worshippers was constructed by Charles, Frank and Francis Clifford. A Canadian Churchman article states,
Its modest size becomes a virtue in achieving an almost domestic sense of cosiness, to which the expansive wooden ceiling makes a significant contribution. The walls were decorated with paintings, and words of praise to the Lord rested below the valance on the front wall. There were stained glass windows, silver collection plates, two handsome chairs at the front of the building, an organ and a sweet-toned bell.
The church was located in a charming rural setting beside the Sydenham River. The interior was refurbished in 1984. The bricks were re-pointed in 1985, and a new roof installed in 1986. The music program has flourished with a new keyboard purchased with funds from the estate of the Very Reverend Garfield Brown.
St John’s-in-the-Woods has always been a rural church and those rural values affect the way the congregation conducts its affairs. About 35 families attended services in 1856, and about 45 in the 1930s. Today 30 families contribute to its welfare.
Aughrim’s 150th anniversary history book, St. John’s In The Woods Anglican Church, Aughrim, 1846-1996, by Earl Morwood, is available at local libraries and for sale by the author. Phone or write the office to get his contact information. The following are excerpts from Euphemia Township History – 1849-1999, by the Euphemia Township Historical Society, ISBN 0-9685902-0-9:
Earl Morwood (Warden)
Janice Hands (Warden)
Emily Coupland (Clerk)
Scott Gawley (Treasurer)
Elizabeth Hayward (Parish Officer)
Pam Downie (Parish Officer)
Heather Morwood (Parish Officer)
Heather Morwood (Organist)
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