The Old Country Church

By Grace McCoag in Community

It was just an old white-sided country church by the side of Hwy. 6-located at Mar, eight miles north of Wiarton-but it was the place where many memories were made and remembered. Back in the middle 30’s the roads weren’t very inviting to driving cars in the winter on the Bruce Peninsula-so we walked to church. We lived on a farm about a mile from the Presbyterian Church. And across the road from the church was the public school that my brother and I attended.
On Sundays we trudged the mile to church, which meant we had to walk up a fairly long hill. Now Mother boarded the school teachers and if I was lucky and if I was up in time I could walk to Sunday school with the teacher who also would go across to the public school to check on things like keeping a bit of heat on. In the winter he would walk ahead of me and make a track in the snow then I would step into the foot- tracks [sometimes up to my knees]. But as he took longer steps than I did he sometimes had to reach around and pull me out of the snow.
Our Sunday School teachers were an old couple-[well I thought at the time that they were really old but looking back I realize they were only in their 50’s.] They had no children so they took quite an interest in trying to teach us ‘young- uns’ the proper way of life. But I’m afraid they must have thought at times that we were a lost bunch of souls. Mary taught the girls and Andrew taught the rowdy boys [sorry I meant to say the little male angels].
Well you know that girls can be a giddy lot when four or five get together. We’d be sitting on the cold, hard benches ,trying to be ‘oh- so- good’ when one of us would say something silly and it only took a thing like that to set us giggling and moving around, and poor Mary’s voice would become sad sounding and tears would wind their way down her withered cheeks. I’m afraid [or should I say chastened ] that when we witnessed the tears we realized how deeply we were hurting Mary and we calmed ourselves somewhat,— for a while.
Mary and Andrew lived about three miles from the church and in winter they, too, walked the long walk. To keep themselves as warm as they possibly could they wrapped layers of newspapers[ which happened to be the local Owen Sound Sun- Times delivered daily ] around their bodies, inside their coats. They were a faithful dedicated couple, unappreciated until we were grown when we realized how fortunate we had been to have had such a loving couple to care so much about our upbringing in faith. Besides Sunday School they took the regular church services as we didn’t have a minister in the winter- only in the summer with student ministers- in- training during their time off university.
And bless her old heart, Mary had a voice that only God could love. It had quite a ringing quality to it and loud. Now Dad had a great , low resonate voice and the two of them made the rafters ring.
In winter the church was heated, or should I say warmed, because it was a very drafty old building, by a large pot- bellied stove which glowed a fire- engine red when to many logs were piled into it. Someone always went an hour before Sunday School started so as to take the chill off the large room. A few times it almost took more than the chill away as the draft on the stove- pipe was left open too long and the fire got to roaring and that’s when the long row of stove- pipes, which snaked across the ceiling, got a scary red colour and you could hear the fire roaring through them. But fortunately all the church- goers were used to things like this happening in their own homes so they always knew what to do to calm the fire danger.
The old church entertained many weddings and also many funerals were held there. We even had a six – voice choir. I remember one Sunday a trio of men came from the big city of Owen Sound [ well I thought it was big because when I was just a young child we didn’t get there very often.] They sang in our choir and I felt very excited to be able to sing with them.
The old church doesn’t exist anymore. I believe it was torn down and the property sold for a building lot.

So many good memories and
Some sad ones.
But we try to remember only
The good ones.