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Excerpted from Arlene Beebe-Cromarty’s submission to Memories and Milestones
The Dedication of Holy Trinity Church took place on May 29, 1914 and the bell to call the congregation to worship was installed on July 26, 1914.
The church and rectory were kept warm by wood and coal heaters in those days, and the chore of hauling the wood and ashes would no doubt be done by devoted parishioners. The church is still standing, but the rectory burned to the ground in 1916 when the departing student minister left a hearty fire burning in the heater of the little shack. When the incoming minister Reverend Wickenden arrived, all he found was a pile of burning ashes. All of the church records were destroyed. A new rectory was built beside the church in 1918.
In 1991 this beautiful stained glass window was installed at the front of the church in memory of Florence Gordon.
Reverend George Holmes was the incumbent at that time. Mrs. John Twigg supervised the Sunday school that year, walking five miles each way to and from the church. Mr. and Mrs. Peter McNeil, who lived on the farm now owned by the Kennedys, brought the drapes that hang at the back of the church from Scotland. Mrs. McNeil drove a horse and buggy or cutter in to play the organ for church services for many years.
The early years saw the parishes of Hardisty and Hughenden served by the same rector. He would travel the many miles on horseback or by team and buggy. Even though the churches were twenty miles apart and a great number of the parishioners were farmers, the clergy were able to do a great deal of visiting. The Reverend Waite was known to help out at harvest time, taking lunch to the field with his team of buckskin ponies.
The Holy Trinity Anglican Church Women (W.A) organization was formed on May 13, 1913. They were hardworking ladies, who in their time carried a far heavier load, with much less to work with then, than in the present. The historic battle to keep the church afloat was an ongoing burden, but the pioneer women persevered and overcame all obstacles. The bank balance at the end of 1931 was $2.37. That was in the hungry 1930s, but it hadn’t improved a lot by 1961 when the balance in the bank was a meagre 79 cents.
In many instances, the operating of the church became the responsibility of the W.A. (later called the A.C.W. – Anglican Church Women). Their hard work and dedication went a long way to sustain the church. They raised funds by having fowl suppers in the rectory. The charge for an adult plate was 35 cents and 25 cents for children.
The organization served as their social outlet as well. Mr. Black and his famous team of blacks took the W.A. members for sleigh rides in the country to attend meetings, social evenings, whist parties, and Easter teas.
The W.A. took on many projects over the years. In 1956 the group got together to put new shingles on the church and paint the exterior. It has been noted that Florence Gordon and Margaret Wall were official daubers for the shingles. Florence commented that it was hard to say which was the most stuck up: Margaret, Florence, or the shingles. In the next years they installed electricity in the church, and the water and sewer in the rectory.
On September 23, 1989 a special service was held in Holy Trinity Church celebrating 75 years of continuous services. The 1990s saw more declines in church attendance. The minister drove from Sedgewick to hold services for three people. With increased costs, the small membership could no longer maintain the church.
The hard work and dedication of the pioneer women and those that followed couldn’t overcome the changing times. As with the church, the membership of the A.C.W. dwindled to a few. They struggled on until the church closed. Brothers Eino and John Johnson, owners of the former rectory, cared for the church grounds for many years, even painting the little church one summer.
The last service held in the church was on September 21, 2002. As it started, so it ended. Services were held in the home of one of the parishioners until January of 2003. The beautiful old church still graces the corner where it has stood for 100 plus years, a symbol of times past.
~ Excerpted from pages 220-224 of Memories and Milestones 1905-2005: Amisk-Hughenden-Rosyth, A History; written and submitted by Arlene Beebe-Cromarty
The Amisk-Hughenden Historical Society is responsible for maintaining this little church. If you’re interested in donating to Holy Trinity’s upkeep, please get in touch. The society is currently raising funds to shingle the roof and lift the sinking porch.