The following historical account of St. Paul’s United Church is a summary sourced from two documents. The first document is entitled History of St. Paul’s United by Arthur Youngs dated January 18, 1984. The second document is entitled Early Recollections of St. Paul’s United Church Cornwall by Evelyn Stidwill dated November 25, 1966. Both documents are held at the Eastern Ontario Outaouais Regional Council Archives in Ottawa.
The history of St. Paul’s United Church traces its origins to the Methodist Episcopal Church of New York under the name of Cornwall Methodist Church. During the late 18th and 19th centuries, missionaries would travel around designated geographical regions to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to distant and rural communities. These territories were called circuits, on account of the path the preacher would take. In 1792, missionaries arrived in the region where Cornwall currently resides. Under the jurisdiction of the Northern New York Oswegatchie Circuit of the Methodist Episcopal Church of New York, a worshipping community was formed.
The Methodists that made up the Cornwall Methodist Church began meeting in local homes, asking the owners of the home for permission to hold their meetings. Permission was typically granted, with meetings consisting mostly of prayers, hymn singing, and preaching. Children of the household would go out and invite nearby neighbours to visit, resulting in a growing number of converts.
The Methodists in the area remained part of the Northern New York Oswegatchie Circuit until 1808, when a new local Circuit was formed. In 1818, the British Conference of the Wesleyan Methodists came to the region to organize their own church. With two competing Methodist groups in the region, tensions rose. While ministers for the Cornwall Methodist Church were supplied from the United States until 1824, the tension between the British and New York Methodists raised the need to establish a distinctly Canadian Methodist Church. By 1828, those from the New York Methodists decided to form the Methodist Episcopal Church in Canada. In response, the British Conference formed the Wesleyan Methodist Church in Canada a few years later. The Cornwall Methodist Church joined the Wesleyan Methodists.
As the church grew, the need for a permanent space to gather for worship was needed. Land was acquired on lot 10, south of 4th street. The church was built out of brick and completed in 1861 under the pastorate of Rev. Hugh McLean, the first documented minister of the Cornwall Methodist Church. A few years later, the parsonage (the home of the minister) was constructed right next to the church on the same lot. Over the next 10 years, the congregation felt that the church building was small and inconveniently located. Meetings were held, and a new plot of land was acquired at the corner of First and Sydney streets. A new building was constructed and completed in 1875. The previous building was sold and renovated by the purchaser into two dwelling houses. The parsonage remained under the control of the church, remaining so until the 1920s when a new parsonage was acquired. The new parsonage was located at 117 First Street East.
In 1884, the two aforementioned branches of Methodism, alongside almost all other forms of Methodism which exited in Canada, united to form a singular Methodist Church. This made the Methodist church the largest Protestant denomination in Canada. Over 30 years later, the Methodist church met with the Presbyterian and Congregationalist churches to discuss a church union. On June 10, 1925, the Cornwall Methodist Church joined with the whole of the Methodist Church alongside 70% of the Presbyterian Church in Canada and the whole of the Congregationalist Church to form the United Church of Canada. With Cornwall Methodist Church joining the United Church, a new name had to be chosen, and the name of St. Paul’s United Church was founded.
In the 1930s and 1950s, the building was renovated to add Beach Hall and a modern Christian Education wing. In 1976, the Sanctuary was renovated. Two years later, a property developer approached the church with the desire to buy the land to construct a shopping centre. In a narrow margin, the congregation voted to sell the building and in August of 1978, St. Paul’s United Church moved into the neighbouring Knox United Church and worshipped there.
In 1980, the congregation gave a mandate to the Board of St. Paul’s to explore the possibility of amalgamating with Knox United Church. As they continued to share the space, some felt that it would be a practical move to amalgamate together. The amalgamation represented the opening of a new future filled with opportunities, challenges, and adventures to be had by both churches. On January 1, 1981, St. Paul’s United Church joined with Knox United Church to form what is now Knox St. Paul’s United Church.
Ministers of St. Paul’s
Undated Methodist Ministers (1861-1875)
Rev. Hugh McLean
Rev. J. Hugell
Rev. G.N.A.F.T Dixon
Rev. Wm. C. Henderson, MA
Rev. Alexander Campbell
Methodist Ministers (1875-1925)
1875-1878 – Rev. Wm. Hall
1878-1881 – Rev. Richard Whiting
1881-1884 – Rev. Wm. McGill
1884-1886 – Rev. A.A. Smith
1886-1889 – Rev. F.C. Reynolds
1889-1892 – Rev. Wm. Jackson, DD
1892-1895 – Rev. H.F. Bland
1892-1895 – Rev. Salem G. Bland, BA, DD (Assistant Minister)
1895-1898 – Rev. T.C. Brown
1898-1901 – Rev. Hugh Cairns
1901-1904 – Rev. E.B. Ryckman, MA, DD
1904-1907 – Rev. George Edwards
1907-1911 – Rev. W.E. Reynolds
1911-1915 – Rev. Douglas Richardson, MA
1915-1919 – Rev. T. Wesley Cosens, BA
1919-1923 – Rev. J.W.P Macfarlane, STL
1923-1925 – Rev. Daniel Mick, STL
United Ministers (1925-1980)
1925-1928 – Rev. Daniel Mick, STL
1928-1933 – Rev. Frank Coop
1933-1941 – Rev. T.A. Halpenny, BA, DD
1941-1953 – Rev. W.S. Atchison, BA, BD
1953-1961 – Rev. Harold Neal Burgess, BA
1961-1965 – Rev. Frank E. Ball, MA
1965-1975 – Rev. George Clifford, BA
1975-1980 – Rev. Gary Stokes (continued one year following amalgamation)