The Particular Covenanted Baptist Church in Canada

Ekfrid Church Development Since the Early 1800's

By Elder J. Stewart McColl
(Published in the Glencoe Transcript & Free Press, Glencoe, Canada, in April 1981)
Credit is given to this newspaper with our sincere thanks
for their assistance in providing a copy of the article to us.

About halfway between Appin and Melbourne, on Highway 2, stands a Baptist church with a history dating back to the early 1800's. Stewart McColl, of Appin, gave an interesting account of this building and congregation at a meeting in the Ekfrid Community Centre. The following article describes the travels, labours, faith and hope of its members and adherents.

The story of The Particular Covenanted Baptist Church in Canada begins in Scotland about the beginning of the Nineteenth Century, when, one Daniel McArthur, a layman of Cowal in the West of Scotland, was converted by grace and immediately began to exhort and preach the Gospel to his countrymen with unusual zeal. Moreover, the Lord accompanied his labours with such power that a great awakening took place among the people of the land.

Being desirous to follow the rules laid down in the Word of God, Daniel McArthur searched the country until he found a Mr. McFarland of Edinburgh who baptized him by immersion and ordained him Pastor over the flock already established by the Lord at Cowal. As pastor of this Baptist Church at Cowal he suffered much persecution at the hands of the Established Clergy. Once he was apprehended; put on board a warship; carried off to England and put in dungeons. His name was changed often so that his friends had much difficulty in finding him. When he was found, however, he was brought to Edinburgh, where he was tried before the Lord of Session and released - his adversaries being fined four thousand pounds. Afterwards, he emigrated to Tompkins County, New York State, in the United States of America.

Before he left Scotland, however, a number of influential men were raised up under his Pastorship, one of whom, in the person of Dugald Campbell, a Deacon in the Church, was to influence many lives in the wilderness of Upper Canada, or what is now known as Ontario.

As a Deacon in the Baptist Church at Cowal, Dugald Campbell was liberated to speak publicly, which he did with much earnestness and zeal. On July 28, 1818, he and his family, along with four other families of the Baptist faith, set sail for America from the harbour of Tobermory on the Island of Mull on the ship called the "Mars." We believe the four other Baptist families were those of Alexander Gray, Donald Buchan, Dugald McLarty and Duncan McCallum. They arrived at Pictou, Nova Scotia on September 1 and later at Quebec City on September 20, 1818. From Quebec City, they made their way westward by Lake Schooner to the shores of Port Glasgow in Aldborough Township.

On that same ship, two young men, by the name of Dugald McLarty and James Ruthven, remained at Caledonia for a brief visit, and when they came a few weeks later to New Glasgow, they were drowned in the rough waters of the lake as they approached the shore with their luggage in a small boat. They were the first ones buried in the Pioneer Cemetery at New Glasgow.

Upon arrival in Canada, Dugald Campbell and his family settled on the S 1/2 of Lot 13 Concession 12 and the N 1/2 of Lot 13 Concession 13 in Aldborough Township. Here Dugald Campbell continued to preach among the families who came with him to Aldborough along with other Baptist families of the area such as that of John Leitch, who later moved to Moss Township; Duncan McLean and Malcom McIntyre, who later moved to Ekfrid Township and Duncan McColl who settled on the S 1/2 of Lot 16 Concession 12 in Aldborough at Brock's Creek. Dugald Campbell was ordained to the full work of the ministry here in Upper Canada by Elder Charles Stewart of Gosfield.

In 1820, because of widely differing sentiments, Elder Dugald Campbell and his followers withdrew from the communion of the Regular Baptists of the area to constitute the Baptist Church of Christ in Aldborough, now known as the Particular Covenanted Baptist Church in Canada and established its Articles of Faith. The earliest meetings were held in the homes and in the log school houses of the settlement. The first Communion was served in Duncan Peterson's house three-quarters of a mile from Eagle. The first meeting house built by these Baptist settlers was constructed of logs and stood where the village of Eagle now stands. In 1844, a frame meeting house was built on the S 1/2 of Lot 15, Concession 12, Aldborough Township, which served the Covenanted Baptists in this community until 1927, when the building was sold to Mr. Joseph Pfeifer of Eagle.

This frame meeting house was approximately forty feet deep and thirty feet wide and consisted of a barn frame construction. The beams were of white oak with black ash girts and tamarack rafters. It was covered with a ship lap siding. The building had three windows on each side, and one window on either side of the front door. A window containing a border of red coloured glass was above the front door to give light to the balcony. Access to the balcony, which extended across the end of the meeting house and the two sides, was gained by a narrow stairway immediately inside the front door to the right. The pulpit was made of black walnut as were the seats, all of which were hand made. A name plate above the front door revealed the date 1844. The frame of this meeting house is still used to support an implement shed on the farm of Mr. Kenneth Sadowski of RR 1, Wallacetown.

In 1828, Malcolm McIntyre, formerly of Aldborough and then of the N 1/2 of Lot 4 1RS of the Longwoods Road invited Elder Dugald Campbell to preach in Ekfrid for the first time. Years later, his son, James McIntyre, described this meeting in these words: "Father sent an invitation to Elder Dugald Campbell and Thomas McColl (later Elder Thomas McColl) to come and preach for us. Father was well acquainted with Elder Dugald Campbell in Scotland, and had heard him preach often. It was, according to my memory, the latter part of May, 1828, that they came. We had appointed the meeting to be held in father's log barn. Between three and four dozen gathered to hear the Scotch Baptist preach. I firmly believe this was the first gospel sermon ever preached in that township. The text preached from by Elder Dugald Campbell was from the Song of Solomon 8:8."

For some years the congregation in Ekfrid met in the homes, such as that of Donald McTaggart on the S 1/2 of Lot 10 1RN of Longwoods Road along with a number of others. In 1833 a log meeting house was constructed at the west corner of the Mayfair Cemetery on what is now No. 2 Highway between Lots 8 and 9. This log structure served the congregation in Ekfrid for 20 years until the frame meeting house, which sat south of the cemetery and faced number eight sideroad, was built in 1853.

At the June Quarterly Meeting in Ekfrid at Mayfair in 1857 visiting ministers of our faith and order from the United States were invited to attend for the first time. Angus McTaggart of Ekfrid later descried part of this meeting as follows: "With Elder Gilbert Beebe came Elder Hill of Utica, N. Y., and Elder Meaders of Mississippi; they were great soldiers of the cross. This was in the year 1857. We had a place prepared in the woods comfortably fixed. Elder Meaders was preaching about the remnant to a large congregation who were giving close attention, when the rain poured down in torrents. We then moved into the meeting houses. The old log house was still standing; the frame house was newly built so we got along all right."

The frame meeting house served the congregation in Ekfrid until 1901 when it was sold to Mr. Fred Eaton since it had been replaced by a modern brick structure. On November 14, 1901 the Glencoe Transcript published an article describing the opening of the present brick meeting house. The article was written by the Adolphe (South Ekfrid) Correspondent and reads in part as follows: "After nigh half a century of dedication to the worship of God, the old Church of Ekfrid connection of Old School Baptists was found insufficient to meet the demands of a growing congregation, and on Sunday, November 10 the fine new edifice erected this summer was opened for worship. The new Church, which is one of which any rural congregation might well be proud is a substantial and handsome structure of red brick fifty-five feet deep and thirty-six feet wide, with a gallery. The interior of the Church is finished in white Georgia pine, and the windows are of stained glass. The pulpit and pulpit furniture are of antique oak upholstered in crimson. The Church is heated by a basement furnace. The total cost was about $4,200.

The opening services were marked by the attendance of large congregations from the surrounding districts, while the adherents of the Covenanted Church were present from many parts of the province. The services were conducted by the Pastor, Elder W. I. Carnell, of Dutton, assisted by Elder H. M. Curry of Illinois. In the morning the service opened with the singing of the Twentieth Paraphrase, "How glorious Zion's courts appear." Elder Curry chose for his text Acts 2:42, "And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread and in prayers." Elder Carnell followed with a short discourse on Matthew 16:17, 18, and in the course of which he gave an interesting sketch of the history of the two churches which had served the needs of the congregation prior to the erection of the new building. In the afternoon an effective sermon was preached, and so great was the crowd in attendance that many were unable to obtain admission. So generous were the offerings of the congregation that the church starts its career practically free of debt. In the words of a number of the congregation, "the plates were simply stacks of bank bills with a handful of silver occasionally to hold the bills down."

The committee which had in charge the erection of the church was composed of the following gentlemen: George Scates, chairman; Angus McTaggart Sr., secretary-treasurer; Alex McDonald, Philip Corneil, Malcolm Galbraith, Angus McTaggart Jr., David Cowan and Daniel McDougald.

Since that time a full basement has been added and panelled and a sitting room has been adjoined to the south end of the meeting house. The sheds, used for sheltering the horses and buggies of a former era, have been sold and the Mayfair Cemetery has been considerably enlarged.

In 1827, one year before Elder Dugald Campbell came to Ekfrid, he was greatly impressed by the Spirit of God to blaze a trail through the bush from his home in Aldborough to Lobo for he believed that several families of the same faith were settling there. He was accompanied on his fifty mile journey through the wilderness by Thomas McColl, a young school teacher in Aldborough, who later was ordained Elder Thomas McColl and succeeded him as Pastor of the church. In Lobo they found a people of similar belief whom Elder Dugald Campbell organized as a congregation. In 1837 a log meeting house was built in Lobo Township on the south west corner of Lot 9, Concession 6 and was succeeded by a brick edifice on the opposite corner in 1855.

The frame meeting house where we presently meet was built in 1883 in the village of Poplar Hill and is frequently referred to as the Pollard meeting house.

In Dunwich the first congregation of Particular Covenanted Baptists met in a log meeting house which stood a short distance west of Wallacetown. In 1852, it was replaced by a frame meeting house built on the same lot on No. 3 Highway, just east of Wallacetown on which the present brick structure now stands. The brick meeting house was built in 1911 complete with vestibule and basement, and cost $5,000. The building committee elected to erect this meeting house was composed of Duncan McAlpine, chairman; John T. Kerr, secretary-treasurer; Neil G. Blue, John McPhail, D. McWilliams, A. D. S. McCallum, James French, Daniel Graham, J. J. Graham, J. A. Campbell, and T. E. Lilly.

The first meeting house of any denomination built in the village of Kilmarnock, now Duart, in the Township of Orford, Kent County, was that of our people and it was built during the pastorship of Elder Dugald Campbell in 1851. Five years later, a new and better building was erected. "Two pounds lawful money was exchanged" for the purchase of the land for the building site. In 1896, the present brick meeting house was erected while Elder William Pollard was pastor.

In addition, the Elders of our church over the period of its history have conducted services on a regular basis in London, Dutton, St. Thomas, Brantford, Bala (Muskoka) and Detroit in suitable meeting places rented for these purposes by the local people.

The structure of our church government is very simple for it consists of a body of members, from which we appoint Deacons for serving Communion, a clerk through whom we communicate with sister churches and associations and one or more Elders set aside to the full work of the ministry by the laying on of hands of a presbytery called solely for this purpose and dismissed immediately afterwards. Our membership in Canada is in one body even though we have several meeting places. As one corporate body, with these officers, our church functions independently under Christ her only Head.

Our order of service for public worship is also very simple and consists of an opening prayer, the singing of a selection by the congregation, the reading of scripture and preaching, the singing of another selection by the congregation and a closing prayer. The selections for singing are chosen from the Durand and Lester Hymn and Tune Book or a Psalm or Paraphrase chosen from the Scottish Psalter.

The pastors of our church since its inception in 1820 include the following: Elder Dugald Campbell, 1818-1857; Elder Thomas McColl, 1852-1868; Elder William Pollard, 1868-1901; Elder William L. Beebe, 1877-1881; Elder W. I. Carnell, 1901-1906; Elder H. M. Curry, 1901-1906; Elder John B. Slauson, 1914-1925; Elder George Ruston, 1929-1972; Elder D. Alex McColl, 1972 (given special care of Lobo and Dunwich); Elder J. Stewart McColl, 1972 (given special care of Ekfrid and Duart).

In addition to these fully ordained Elders, the following Deacons were licensed to preach to help the early pastors of the church when travel was so difficult through the wilderness: Duncan McCallum (Aldborough); Neil McDonald (Baldoon Settlement); John Ford (Aldborough); John McLarty (Caradoc, later Wallacetown); Duncan Lamont (Lobo); John McCallum (Tamico, Ekfrid); Malcolm Campbell (Ekfrid); John McIntyre (Ekfrid); John C. Bateman (Caradoc); John A. McKellar (Lobo); Duncan Walker (Orford); and Duncan McLean (Ekfrid).

Visiting ministers from churches of our faith and order in the United States, since 1857, include approximately 100 persons from 22 different states right across the Union.

A quarterly meeting is held at each of the four main meeting places, i. e., Dunwich (Wallacetown), Ekfrid (Mayfair), Lobo (Poplar Hill), and Orford (Duart), once each year. At these meetings visiting ministers are usually invited from churches of our faith and order from the United States and the members and friends gather from all the other congregations in our own area. During these three day meetings, the members of the host congregation provide and serve the meals either in the basement of the meeting house or at a local hall.

With respect to our beliefs, the structure and function of our church as well as the preaching and the order of public worship, our desire is to follow as explicitly as possible the faith and practice of the churches as they are described in the New Testament.

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