Wearing their first surplices paid for by the proceeds from a supper and concert.
- Bole, Allan Lyne, Colonel Rorke, George Knott, Hattie Lyne, Sandford Knott, Ben Knott, Rev. Appleyard, George Hunt, Miss Cavalier, Eveylnn Hogg, Ellen Knott, Mrs. Ulbricht, Ida Lyne, Jean Wheatley, Victoria Lewis, Maud Wheatley, Sara Ferguson, Emma Bole.
THE HISTORY OF ST. GEORGE'S CHURCH
This history is based on a talk given by Nan Maitland, a lifelong parishioner at St. George's and a great-granddaughter of William Jabez Marsh, the founder of both the Village of Clarksburg and St. George's. On January 1st, 1998, the Town of Thornbury amalgamated with the Township of Collingwood, which included Clarksburg, Craigleith and much of the Beaver Valley, becoming the Town of The Blue Mountains.
In 1858, William Jabez Marsh traveled from Holland Landing to purchase 500 acres of Crown land adjacent to the village of Thornbury. After choosing a location for his own farm and home, he donated 2.5 acres for the building of a church and Rectory. While the church was being built the first Anglican services were held at ‘Grape Grange’, the home of Mr. Marsh and his family. This historic homestead still exists today. While services had begun as early as 1852, these were led by faithful Anglican families because there was no priest as of yet in the area.
The first church, a frame building erected in 1863 and named St George’s, was located in the newly established Village of Clarksburg immediately adjacent to the border with Thornbury in order to serve both municipalities. In writing to a friend, Mr. Marsh described the church in a humorous rhyme:
We have a Church, it has a steeple,
An iron rod and a ball of tin.
I think it will hold 200 people,
If they stand up and are well packed in.
The original church served until 1899 when it was replaced by the present brick structure, erected on the same site. Once the brick church was completed, the original frame church was disassembled and transported in mid-winter by horse-drawn sleighs to Beaverdale where it was re-assembled and continued to serve the congregation there for another half-century.
Over the years, St. George's has undergone numerous changes and improvements. In 1980 an addition was added, providing much needed space for a meeting room, nursery, and Rector’s study. A wheelchair accessible entrance to the church and wheelchair accessible washroom were completed in 1995, just in time for veterans in wheelchairs to attend the Remembrance Day service. At this time, the bell tower was found to be in need of reinforcement, so a new steeple with cross and matching roof went up in 1998. Our most recent additions to the facility were dedicated in 2016 and included a modern Parish Hall for use by the membership, our various outreach partners and the wider community. It included additional accessible washrooms, a cloak room, an elevator and the creation of a commercial grade kitchen for our outreach ministries. This new community space is home to art schools, a children's choir, yoga classes, the local Rotary Club, a bridge club and our Messy Church children's ministries.
Many of the historically significant furnishings in St. George's, including the main altar, came from the rural church of Holy Trinity at Victoria Corners which was closed in 1969 and the parish amalgamated with St. George's. Other furnishings, including the beautiful stained glass windows that now grace the church, have been donated as memorials. The two-manual Keats-Geisler pipe organ has periodically been renovated and improved and is now recognized as one of the finest instruments in the area.
The brick Rectory located next to the church was built in 1867 and has been well maintained and has housed generations of priests with their families. In 1985 major renovations were undertaken including re-wiring, the installation of insulation and upgrading of the plumbing. In 2008, further improvements were made to the Rectory, including replacement of the hardwood flooring throughout the ground floor. When the old flooring was removed it was discovered that newspapers had been installed below the flooring to act as insulation, a common practice in the early 1900s. Some of these newspapers were from the Toronto Globe, a predecessor of the Globe & Mail. Further updates have included the renovation of the kitchen with new flooring, cabinets and appliances.
In December of 2019, Parishioner Nan Maitland was present at the Annual Rector's Christmas Open House where the Rectory was officially renamed "Marsh House Rectory" in honour of her family's original gift granting the land for its purpose. This was Nan's final parish event before her passing on January 3rd, 2020 at the age of 96.
A Garden of Remembrance, which had long been a dream of the parish, was begun in 2000 and completed and dedicated on July 22nd, 2001. This garden is a peaceful setting on consecrated ground, with perpetual care. It is available to anyone, irrespective of denomination or religion, for the scattering of ashes.
Over the years, three "boys" of the parish later became bishops: Bishop Peter Rowe, Bishop of Alaska; Bishop Harold Appleyard, Bishop of Georgian Bay; and Bishop Henry Marsh, Bishop of the Yukon. In addition, two sons of William Marsh, the church founder, became clergy: The Rev Canon Tom Marsh of Hay River, N.W.T. and The Rev Canon Charles Marsh, of Lindsay. Other clergy who grew up at St George’s include The Rev Kershaw Alexander of Woodstock and Flint, Michigan and The Rev Stuart Hicks, who spent several years in Northern Saskatchewan before serving in England.
Our current Rector is The Reverend Doctor Grayhame 'Gray' Bowcott. Gray+ brings to our parish his passion for church growth and vibrancy, his focus on intergenerational worship and community building, his gifts as a musican, teacher and preacher and his authencity as a follower of Jesus.
As a priest in the Diocese of Huron, Rev. Gray has led many congregations to experience numerical growth and spiritual transformation. Foremost among these was his mission project of reopening the closed and deconsecrated church of St. Anne's in Port Franks. Ontario - a first in the history of the Anglican Church of Canada. These ministry gifts continue to be cultivated as Grayhame continues to research numerically growing congregations as was the focus of his Doctor of Ministry degree at the Toronto School of Theology through Wycliffe College. Dr. Bowcott is interested in the theologies that set growing congregation in the Diocese of Huron and Toronto apart from the many that are in decline. He hopes his research will provide useful insights in future years within the Anglican Church of Canada.
St George’s has never lacked for caring, dedicated men and women to give of their talents, time and treasure, to glorify God in his church in Clarksburg. The spirit of hope, love and hospitality is evidenced every day. Newcomers are welcomed and made to feel at home. St. George's is a growing congregation and is ever seeking to serve the needs of our explanding Town of the Blue Mountains. The future of the parish looks bright as we strive to cultivate the Fruits of the Spirit.