Christ Church, Meaford, Ontario

Trivitt Memorial, Exeter St John the Evangelist, Kitchener Christ Church, Meaford St John's, Sandwich Old Saint Paul's, Woodstock

34 Boucher Street East, Meaford, Ontario

The Rev. Gary Parker

Sunday Services:
8:00am, 9:30am and 11:00am

In the year 1833, the surveyors Rankin and Stewart headed north, with several people who had received land grants, to the area now known as Meaford. Progress was slow, and when winter came and it was time to head south again, some of the land grants had not been surveyed yet, so those people had to go home and return the following year. As it was the beginning point for their work in the area, Charles Rankin named the township "Zero". This was later changed by the local people to St. Vincent Township. There was an obviously strong naval influence among the locals of the day, as "St. Vincent" comes from the Earl of St. Vincent, Sir John Jervis, who, after an extremely successful career in the British navy, retired as Admiral of the Fleet. Following his victory at St. Vincent, where he commanded the Mediterranean Fleet, he was created Baron Jervis of Meaford, (in Staffordshire County) and Earl of St. Vincent.

It is interesting to note that not only are the township (St.Vincent) and the town (Meaford) directly related to this one famous British admiral, but the street names in the town of Meaford also come from other British admirals of the time.

In 1842, as the area grew, a missionary priest was sent by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel to cover the area from Orillia to St. Vincent Township. Meaford was visited once a year, with the services held in Stephenson's Inn. Following the incorporation of the Diocese of Huron in 1857, the Rev. James Hutchinson was sent to live in Meaford. His territory included St. Vincent Township, Bruce County, Thornbury and the townships of Collingwood and Euphrasia. Bishop Cronyn paid his first visit to the parish in 1860, confirming a class of thirty candidates.

Christ Church Meaford

Nave, Quire and Sanctuary.

Appleyard WWII Memorial Window
Appleyard WWII Memorial Window

By 1861, the parish had decided to construct a building, and a contract was signed for $600.00 to construct a wooden building on land approximately where the parish hall stands today. It was consecrated by Bishop Cronyn as Christ Church, Meaford, in August of 1862.

Having acquired the property next door by selling off the rectory, the present stone church was built in 1876. While the building itself was completed in that year, it was unfurnished, and the parish was indebted for 5 times its annual receipts.

In 1909 the bell tower, parish hall and connecting hallway were constructed. This addition replaced the original frame building which had, up until that time, been used as the Church school building.

The new nave was built on the ground, not on a basement, and during the Second World War, Rev. H. Appleyard and the ablebodied men of the parish dug out the present basement - all volunteer labour! (They did pay to have the concrete work done.)

One of the most outstanding features on the present building is its stained glass windows, some dating back to the original year of construction, 1876. Of these windows, perhaps the most unusual in nature and beautiful in colour and composition are the two Memorial Windows shipped back from England after the Second World War. Rev.Appleyard had served as a chaplain to the Canadian Forces in southern England, and was appalled by the vast devastation and the destruction of homes, factories, schools and churches. He began collecting shards of stained glass windows, and in time, after meticulously recording where the shards and pieces came from, he was sent to "Cox and Barnard Stained Glass Works" in Hove, near Brighton. Mr. Cox was happy to relead the pieces into windows that would fit Christ Church, Meaford. The work was done free of charge in gratitude for the Canadian war effort.

In 1945, Rev. Appleyard was awarded the Military Cross for "calm courage, disregard of his own safety, and steadfastness of purpose" by the Governor General, Lord Alexander of Tunis, on a platform in front of the Meaford Town Hall. (His father, an incumbent of nearby St.George's, Clarksburg, had received the same medal in World War One.)

In August, 1946, the windows were unveiled by two mothers of the parish who had lost sons during the war. The service was packed, and was broadcast live on CBC Radio, and later broadcast in the British Isles and Europe!

One could say so much more, but I'll end it here by saying that Christ Church, Meaford, is another one of the truly charming churches in Huron Diocese.

December 2006 photostory by Fr. Michael Atkins
(former rector St Luke's Broughdale, London, Ontario)
My thanks go to Francis Richardson, the parish warden, for spending time with me in the church, guiding me on a tour and providing written material for this article.

Founding of Meaford, Ontario Historical Plaque.