History

The only surviving photo of the original Trinity Church, built in 1851 and burned in 1900.

The only surviving photo of the original Trinity Church, built in 1851 and burned in 1900.

The Rev. Featherstone Osler. First resident clergyman in West Gwillimbury.

The Rev. Featherstone Osler. First resident clergyman in West Gwillimbury.

Early 1830’s – The area was visited by various traveling ministers including The Rev. Featherstone Osler who stayed until at least 1849.

The 1840’s – Worship was conducted in a cabinet shop on Holland Street.

Circa 1849 – The Rev. Featherstone L. Osler, joined by the Rev. Arthur Hill began intensive work in West Gwillimbury including Bradford and Coulson’s.

By 1851 – The first church was erected in Bradford, a wooden structure in the form of a cross. Built on a hillside, it looked across the great marshes at the junction of the Holland and Schomberg Rivers. The rector was the Rev. Arthur Hill. This first church had a lofty spire which was blown down during a wind storm in 1865 and a few years later narrowly missed being burned when the old public school located nearby was destroyed by fire.  The only surviving photograph of the original church is shown (above, left).  Courtesy of the Anglican Diocese of Toronto.

1900 – On April 12 the original church and most of its furnishings were destroyed by fire. The baptismal font we use today was one of the few things saved from the fire, being dragged out by Mr. McKinstry, the blacksmith.

1900 – On December 2, only 8 months after the fire, the present brick building opened for service under the energetic leadership of the rector, the Rev. Canon George Benjamin Morley. The church was built of Milton pressed brick in a style known as Early English. The interior walls are of dark red and light buff pressed brick, set off with artistically carved brick moulding. The chancel furniture, all of ash, was crafted by the firm which built the church. Contractors were Messrs. Jarrett & Sons of Alliston and the cost of building was $4,500 with all the funds being raised the same year by subscription. The stained glass window above the altar commemorates Col. Tyrwhitt who commanded the local regiment and also represented this constituency in the House of Commons. Given by officers of the regiment, the central light depicts Christ, the light on one side depicts the Tyrwhitt family coat-of-arms, and the other the insignia of the 36th Peel Battalion. Plaques commemorating parishioners who went to war are mounted on the walls of the church nave.

1986 – The Bantam wing was added, providing a narthex, an additional Sunday School room, and washrooms. This was made possible by a generous bequest from late parishioner, Helen Bantam.

1994 –The Hopkins Wing was added, named in honour of the Rev. Ormond and Ernestine Hopkins, both now deceased. It provides handicap-accessible entrance and washroom, elevator, offices for the rector and secretary, choir room, a small reception area, and rooms downstairs. The style and brick are well-matched to the main church.

2002 – A fine-crafted aluminum cross was donated, and erected atop the steeple as a memorial. When the Parish of Bradford was divided Trinity and St. Paul’s Coulsons’ Hill became separate parishes after 150 years together.

2003 – The colourful tri-light window in the hallway of the Hopkins Wing was given as a memorial. A photograph collection of past rectors was put together, framed and donated.

2004 – Purchase of former Presbyterian Church building & land, adjacent to Trinity Church.

2005 – Demolition of the former Presbyterian building provided a parking lot. “Celebrating Our Ministries” was a joyful parish event in which we were able to ‘communicate’ about the many ministries of our church, to ‘celebrate’ them, and to ‘welcome’ everyone to participate. The ordination to priesthood of Erin Dewhirst, a life-long Trinity parishioner, was a highlight.

2009–2010 – Major Repairs to the church foundation, and then to the bell tower were completed.

This beautiful building is here for us today as a result of the dedication of many generations of worshipers. Many memorials and thank-offerings (communion vessels, stained glass windows, oak doors, light fixtures, and many other furnishings) reflect the loving commitment of those who came before us. Trinity is one of very few churches that still have working bells in its bell tower! One bell calls the faithful to worship Sunday mornings, and the other is tolled at funerals.

The past few years have been challenging — major repairs to an older building, general decline in church attendance, aging congregants, and increased costs are among the reasons, but recent restoration work and ongoing maintenance indicate renewed hope and vision.

Sunday services are inspiring, comforting, and welcoming to everyone, and they are complemented by special services to celebrate feast days of the church year. An excellent programme for children is provided in our Sunday School from September to June. Within our congregation a wealth of commitment and experience is ours to draw upon, and our church family is indeed working together to ensure a promising future.

After 160 years there continues to be much to be thankful for, and much to look forward to. God is forever with us. Let us go forth in peace, to love and serve the Lord. Thanks be to God!

Rectors of Trinity Church, 1851 – 2011

The Rev. Arthur Hill (1849–1856)

The Rev. John Fletcher (1857–1863)

The Rev. Charles Ruttan (1864–1872)

The Rev. Thomas Wilson Paterson (1873–1876)

The Rev. John Widmer Ralph (1877–1878)

The Rev. Henry Burnand Owen (1878)

The Rev. Albert Warburton Spragge (1879–1881)

The Rev. Charles Roles Bell (1882–1883)

The Rev. Bernard Bryan (1884–1887)

The Rev. Alfred John Greer (1889–1891)

The Rev. Ernest Chilcott (1893–1897)

The Rev. George Benjamin Morley (1898–1911)

The Rev. George Frederick Burton Doherty (Curate, 1906)

The Rev. Walter John Creighton (1911–1927)

The Rev. Thomas Joseph Dew ((1928–1935)

The Rev. Albert Gordon Channen (1935–1941)

The Rev. Harold Gordon Blake (1942–1953)

The Rev. Walter Sidney Johnson (1953–1956)

The Rev. E. Ross Woolly (1957–1966)

The Rev. William H. (Bill) Warnica (1966–1969)

The Rev. Jack House (1970–1980)

The Rev. Canon T. Garnet Whitfield (1980–1984)

The Rev. Ormond Hopkins (1984–1994)

The Rev. Grahame Charlton Thompson (1995–1999)

The Rev. Terrance William (Terry) Whitlam (1999–2010)

The Rev. Daniel Francis Graves (2010–2016)

The Rev. Dana Dickson (2017 –  )

Interim Priests

The Rev. F. V. Abbott (1953)

The Rev. Edward G. Morley (1957)

The Rev. Lewis Tunbridge (1980)

The Rev. James Rhodes (1980)

The Rev. Paul Scuse (1995)

The Rev. Dawn Gilby (1999)

The Rev. Joanne Bennett (2010)

The Rev. Robert Sweet (2016 – 2017)