History of Trinity Church, Howard Township

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On a gravel hill that slopes away gently to the south, the blue waters of Lake Erie a mile distant, with the rich garden-like land intervening, stands Trinity Church, Howard, one of the most attractive historic landmarks in Kent County.

Even before Colonel Thomas Talbot had the Talbot Road, now No. 3 King's Highway surveyed, settlers on their own initiative had come to Orford and Howard. The religious opportunities of these pioneers were confined to the visits of travelling missionaries, the Rev. James Stewart, who held services in homes.

In 1844, some of the people decided it was time to have a permanent place to worship and steps were promptly taken to erect a church. John Green Sr. gave the land which was part of lot 83, South Talbot Road. Everyone in the community gave generously. Much work was done gratis, and most of the lumber was secured from the nearby farms. The foundation was laid in the fall of 1844 and the church completed and opened in 1845.

The Church as originally completed, was a frame building. The seats were made locally from solid walnut. Joseph Jewitt gave a large flagstone for the doorstep. This stone was taken from a Schooner which called at the early trading port of Antrim. Lord Morpeth, a kinsman of Colonel Talbot, gave a donation of £25 sterling. The James Stewart Missions donated a set of service books and Irish Linen Alter Cloth. A beautiful silver communion service was a gift from Charlotte, second daughter of Governor Simcoe. The Church Bell was given by Colonel Talbot in memory of Bishop C.J. Stewart. This same Bell calls the worshippers to services today.

The first Baptism recorded by Rev. James Stewart was in a home on February 28, 1843.

Before the church was completed, Bishop Strachan, of the Diocese of Toronto, confirmed a class of thirty candidates.

On August 31, 1845, the first funeral service conducted in the church was that of Miss Elizabeth Armstrong, the minister being the Rev. F.W. Sandy's.

The first marriage recorded by the church was that of William Ford of St. Mary's and Elizabeth Bury of Orford Township, the minister was Rev. J. Stewart.

In 1898, the old church was remodelled, the Chancel, Vestry and Choir room built within the church, the Choir gallery at the back was removed, the roof raised to a higher pitch, the steeple re-constructed, the church veneered with red brick, and an entrance porch added.

Following the Rev. James Stewart, the second travelling missionary was the Rev. F.W. Sandy's, whose circuit extended from Tyrconnel to Sandwich, a distance of 150 miles, and rain or shine, he conducted the services in Trinity Church every second Sunday until 1849.

The first regular incumbent was the Rev. Henry Holland, and following in order were Rev. Colin C. Johnson, Rev. Archibald Lampman, Rev. Mr. Wilson, Rev. William Brookman, Rev. Dr. Newton, Rev. John Downie, Rev. Freeman Harding, Rev. S.L. Smith, Rev. J.G. Hooper, Rev. Edward Softley, Rev. F. Whealan, Rev. W.B. Hawkins, Rev. A.W. Richardson, Rev. Walter Jones, Rev. F.V. Abbot, Rev. E. Jacques, Rev. R.M. Weeks, Rev. T.M.B. Parker, Rev. W.N. Porter, Rev. R.A.E. Ruch, Rev. R.L. Jennings, the present pastor.

At first, Trinity Church was in the Diocese of Toronto, but in 1857, it became a parish of the newly formed Diocese of Huron.

The ground surrounding the church is used as a cemetery, the earliest dated stone is that of William Ridley Jr., January 10, 1831. In 1898, under the leadership of the late Alfred Spencer, the cemetery was beautified, weeds were leaned out, stones straightened, ground levelled, and grass cut. In 1912, through the efforts of Jack Mason and the late Albert W. Walters, church Wardens at that time, a cemetery Endowment Fund was established to ensure a fund for the permanent upkeep of the cemetery.

In this cemetery near the road, a memorial cairn was erected in 1930 in honor of the Poet Archibald Lampman, who was born in Trinity Rectory in 1861, his father being rector from 1858 - 1867. His mother was Susannah Gesner.

This well kept cemetery with its beautiful stone fence, iron gates and archway, is a source of pride to the community.

It is now more than a hundred years since Trinity Church, the first religious edifice in South Kent was built. Although maintaining the doctrine and ritual of the Church of England, it has been more than a sectarian institution; it has been an integral part of the whole community, serving all. In its cemetery are buried people of all Protestant denominations.

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Transcribed from the records of Mrs. Geo. S. Brien, Rural Ridgetown Women's Institute.
2004-10-29