This year, the Grey County Historical Society awarded two Heritage Certificates of Recognition. The first went to Jim Brunow and the second went to Knox Normanby Presbyterian Church for their church and community history book.
Janet Iles presents the representatives of Knox Normanby Church: Norman Marshall, Edythe Dixon, Fay Harrison and Marydale Scales.
Knox Normanby Presbyterian Church is a small country church that claims to be in the middle of nowhere, as there is no village, no hamlet, just an early settlement that recognized the need for a church in their community. Located in the former Normanby Township, it is now part of the Municipality of West Grey and it can be found south of Varney and 1 1/2 miles west of Highway #6 on Maplewood Road.
In 2009, Knox Normanby Presbyterian Church would celebrate 150 years of Christian witness in that rural community and 125 years since the construction of the current building. To recognize such a significant anniversary, the congregation decided to produce a history book that would be more than just a Church history. Norman Marshall, Edythe Dixon, Marydale Scales and Fay Harrison initiated the idea, spearheading the committee and the Knox families who worked on the book.
The committee’s goal was to record the vibrant rural community where the church was centre. Many families are long time residents, representing four, five, six and even seven generations. The book includes stories that had been passed down from generation to generation, along with family photographs and records of the daily life and customs of the community.
On the June 27, 2009 weekend, the book Recollection, Anecdotes and Newsworthy Tales was launched. The congregation reunited with many former members of the community who had returned to Normanby to celebrate and acknowledge the impact that Knox Normanby had made in their lives. A Saturday evening banquet was served. At the 11 a.m. Sunday morning service they had an overflow crowd, which required many to listen to the service on loud speakers in the large outdoor tent. After the service, friends visited with one another over lunch.
The book is exceptionally well done and filled with photographs of church and community activities and information about each family—past and present. The book’s format has been nicely arranged into different sections: church history, family history—organized under each family‘s name so there is easy access to their information and their memories of Knox Normanby and community history.
Only 150 copies were published but the books have found their way to most provinces of Canada and into the United States.
Some Church History
In the 1850s, pioneers came to this area. Some of the early settling families were Greer, McCalmon, McGowan, McIlvride, and McNeice. It is believed that the people met for worship in either homes or in the school house until a church building was erected.
On October 23, 1861, Rev. Patrick Greig was inducted into the pastoral charge consisting of Hampden, East Normanby now Orchardville, and Middle Station, now Knox Normanby Presbyterian Church. Shortly after Rev. Greig’s arrival, a stone church was built at Middle Station, where the congregation worshipped for about 15 years.
In 1884, the present brick building was built at a cost of $1200.00 on donated land on the south east lot of John Marshall’s farm. A brick yard west of Durham manufactured the brick used.
From 1878 to 1958, Knox Normanby was associated with Amos and Dromore. Since 1958, Knox Normanby Church has been a pastoral charge with Amos Dromore and Knox Holstein.
In the early years, a precentor led the singing of the old psalms and paraphrases. For many years, Robert Watson served in this capacity and he was followed by his son James. The congregation stood for prayer and remained seated for the singing.
The majority of the members of Knox Normanby was against union with the Methodists and Congregationalists in 1925. Those who supported Union joined either the United Church at Varney or Durham.
Some Community History
Area women belonged to the Victory Women’s Institute, organized in 1941. During the war, they supported the young men who served by sending a parcel each month.
Area children attended area public schools: SS#1, SS#14, and USS#1 Varney. After passing their entrance exam, the young people went to Durham for high school.
The book includes the childhood memories of Archie Shaw Watson (1884-1965). He recalled his school days and some of the lessons learned from his teachers. He vividly describes his first paying job, “lighting the school fire” in winter. He earned $1.00 a month.
Congratulations to everyone who had a part in seeing this project completed. The GCHS is pleased to recognize your notable Grey County historical accomplishment.
Information is from the brochure prepared for the evening. The presentation photograph taken by Peter Chepil.