Fisherville Church & Manse

A view of the Fisherville Church at Black Creek Pioneer Village.  Holly Cawfield Photography
Fisherville Presbyterian Church

The picket fence surrounding the fisherville church at Black Creek Pioneer Village.  Holly Cawfield Photography
Church Fence

Church Candlelight

A family visiting the Fisherville Church at Black Creek Pioneer Village.  Holly Cawfield Photography
Family In Church

Peeking Over The Pew

Pensive Pew

Church Cemetery

Church Stove Detail

The Manse with the lovely picket fence in the foreground at Black Creek Pioneer Village.  Holly Cawfield Photography
Richmond Hill Manse

Welcome To The Manse

A view of the manse from the rear, looking toward Mill Road at Black Creek Pioneer Village.  Holly Cawfield Photography
View Toward Mill Road
Roblin's Mill in the background.

Jams and Jellies
In the kitchen of the Manse.

Kitchen Stove - Manse

Minster's Desk

Study Lamp
Oil lamp in the Minister's study.
Manse Bedroom
Church Trio

Minister's Top Hat

An excerpt from Catharine Parr Traill's description of her life in Canada.

by Catharine Parr Traill

One great want which has been sensibly felt in this distant settlement, I mean the want of public worship on the Sabbath-day, promises to be speedily remedied. A subscription is about to be opened among the settlers of this and part of the adjacent township for the erection of a small building, which may answer the purpose of church and school-house; also for the means of paying a minister for stated seasons of attendance.

——— has allowed his parlour to be used as a temporary church, and service has been several times performed by a highly respectable young Scotch clergyman; and I can assure you we have a considerable congregation, considering how scattered the inhabitants are, and that the emigrants consist of Catholics and dissenters, as well as Episcopalians.

These distinctions, however, are not carried to such lengths in this country as at home; especially where the want of religious observances has been sensibly felt. The word of God appears to be listened to with gladness. May a blessing attend those that in spirit and in truth would restore again to us the public duties of the Sabbath, which, left to our own guidance, we are but too much inclined to neglect.


There were no regular undertakers in the pioneer times, all the work connected with a burial, from the laying out of the body to the digging of the grave, being done by the neighbors and friends. A carpenter or handy man was employed to make the coffin. Usually it was. made out of pine and stained with lamp-black; but it was very frequently made out of good cherry or oak, nicely planed and varnished, and looked almost as imposing as the modern coffin or casket with its drapery and silver mountings. It was the practice with some of the old settlers to select lumber and lay it away years beforehand for the making of their coffins. It is said that the coffin of one of the old pioneers in Norfolk County was hewed out of a walnut log. The style or shape of the coffin was somewhat different to that of today. The cover was raised in the centre, the upper part being on hinges, so that it could be turned back.

On the day set for the funeral the friends would assemble at the house and follow the remains to their last resting-place, perhaps in the family plot on the farm. After the obsequies were all over many of them would return to the house, where refreshments were served to all, and the will (if any) read. There being no hearse then available, the coffin was conveyed to the cemetery in a farmer's wagon or sleigh, a blanket or quilt being thrown over it in the winter time to keep off the snow. In the settlements where the neighbors were few and far between, a man was sent around on horseback to notify the people of a death and invite them to the funeral. In the early days, if the cemetery was any distance from the residence of the deceased, the funeral procession would consist of a line of farm wagons, the more fashionable "democrat" and buggy being seldom seen, indeed, a farmer who had one was thought to be getting up in the world.


On Sunday I went to church; the first opportunity I had had of attending public worship since I was in the Highlands of Scotland; and surely I had reason to bow my knees in thankfulness to that merciful God who had brought us through the perils of the great deep and the horrors of the pestilence.

Never did our beautiful Liturgy seem so touching and impressive as it did that day,—offered up in our lowly log-built church in the wilderness.

This simple edifice is situated at the foot of a gentle slope on the plains, surrounded by groups of oak and feathery pines, which, though inferior in point of size to the huge pines and oaks of the forest, are far more agreeable to the eye, branching out in a variety of fantastic forms. The turf here is of an emerald greenness: in short, it is a sweet spot, retired from the noise and bustle of the town, a fitting place in which to worship God in spirit and in truth.

An excerpt from Catharine Parr Traill's description of her life in Canada.
by Catharine Parr Traill


One of the great privations at the beginning was in the long intervals between regular religious observances. I remember when we were crossing the ocean, William Hunter, who afterwards settled in Chingacousy, came to our quarters and had prayers with us every night and morning. After we arrived at our new home the first regular services were held by the Rev. Mr. McMurchy, who came over from Eldon township for the purpose. John Gunn, father of the founders of Gunn's Limited, was a volunteer helper. He made a regular practice of reading Scriptures and praying with the old people of the settlement, who, owing to growing infirmities, were unable to attend the regular church services that were held. Daniel Cameron was another who helped in this same way."

"When church services were held, people travelled as much as thirty miles to take part," said Angus McDougall, the son of the speaker. "I have known them, even in my time, to come in lumber-wagons from as far as Sutton on the south, Uptergrove on the north, and Woodville on the west to the old stone church at Beaverton. Their earnestness was shown not only in the distance they travelled but in the patience with which they sat through services lasting from eleven o'clock till four, while their simple faith and devout thankfulness were voiced in the Psalms which filled the old church with a stern melody. Duncan Gillespie was the precentor. He read the Psalms line by line, and then led the congregation as they sang in praise and thanksgiving. The favourite Psalms were the one hundred and third and one hundred and twenty-third:

`Bless, O my soul, the Lord thy God
And not forgetful be,
Of all the gracious benefits
He bath bestowed on thee.
Who with abundance of good things
Both satisfy thy mouth
So that even as the eagle's age
Renewed is thy youth.' "

The Pioneers of Old Ontario

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