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A History of Baddow Baptist Church

June 28, 2023

Baddow Baptist Church, June 2023

Written as it celebrated its 100th Anniversary (1965)

Churches were typically one of the first public buildings constructed in each neighbourhood. In the days before automobiles, most congregants walked to Sunday service, which was one of the few community gatherings they would attend. In addition to their religious role, neighbourhood churches were also often a hub of community activity. Once driving automobiles became an everyday convenience, many of the small churches closed as their congregants began driving to town. As long as they were around, these neighbourhood chapels were maintained by their congregants.

A very special day in the life of the Baddow Church, located near Fenelon Falls, Ontario, was that on which the congregation celebrated its 100th anniversary. The guest preacher was Rev. Edgar Toompuu, of St. Clair Ave. Church, Toronto, a former student pastor of the Baddow Church. His earnest message, “God’s Faith in Us,” will not soon be forgotten by the large congregation which filled every available space in the little country church and necessitated the borrowing of over 75 chairs.

Assisting in the service were the pastor of the Baddow Church, Mr. E.A. Potter, Rev. I MacIntyre and Rev. J.A. Suggitt. Special music was provided by four members of the Lean Family: Graham, Garry, Donna and Jeannette, all of whom were, until five years ago, active members of the Baddow congregation.

Following the service, the ladies served lunch to some ninety friends from near and far. Among the messages of greeting were those from Dr. L.C. Kitchen, Rev. D. Young, Rev. L.D. Begg, Rev. W.A. Sturgess, Rev. Orville Getty and Rev. S. Woodcock, all of whom have served in the congregation in some capacity.

Special greetings and good wishes come from Mrs. Dave Ashwood of Toronto, who celebrated her 91st birthday on November 29, and who has a close link with the Baddow Church. Her father, William Eades, was one of the original group who started erecting the church in 1874, but he passed away before its completion. His friends made his coffin from some of the lumber he had donated for the church, set the coffin on two sawhorses, and in the unfinished chapel conducted his funeral. His daughter, Mary, now Mrs. Dave Ashwood, was born four months later and a month before the building was dedicated.

The history of the Baddow Church makes intensely interesting reading. The seed was sown as early as 1858 by Elder Wright, who, in conjunction with his duties as school superintendent for the townships surrounding Fenelon Falls, conducted religious services wherever a few people would gather for worship. Baddow was one of his self-appointed charges.

In October 1865, a small group gathered at the home of Joseph Eade and, with Elder A. McInyre in charge, the Somerville Baptist Church was born. For a time, the little band of pioneers worshipped in this small log home, then with the building of the log school house, the place of worship was transferred to the larger building. Before many months, however, opposition arose concerning the Baptist congregation’s use of the school house. Whereupon Roderick O’Brien, the man in charge of school affairs, promptly closed the school to all religious meetings and invited the Baptists to meet in his home.

The pastor serving the congregation at this time was Rev. Samuel Tapscott, who regularly walked the eight miles from Fenelon Falls to conduct the services of the church, and received for his labours the equivalent of $25 per year, supplemented by a yearly surprise party. For the year 1871 he received 6 lbs lard, 50c; 6 lbs butter, 75c; cash $15; grain $2.50; 85lbs beef, $3.61; and 75 lbs pork, $3.32.

It was during Mr. Tapscott’s ministry that action was taken to build a church. The original subscription list, dated September 30, 1873, has been preserved. It reads as follows:

“A convenient place for the worship of God being urgently needed in the township of Somerville in Eade’s Settlement [Later renamed Baddow], in order to secure this object we whose names are subscribed, promise to pay the sums opposite our names respectively, the first half in April of 1874, the next in April of 1875; Joseph Eade – ¼ acre of land and $100; Samuel Tapscott – $10; Thomas Down – $40; Thomas Watson Sr. – 15 days work; John Hall – 15 days work; William Eade – 1,000 feet of lumber and $10. Henry Graham – hardware value $15; George Watson – $5; Sarah Fielder – $10; Thomas Watson Jr. – $4; Richard Eade – $1; William Sanguins – 5 days work; Green & Ellis – 2,000 feet lumber, value $15; Edmund Watson – 10,000 handmade shingles, value $20; a friend – $15; George Eade Sr. – $15; J.D. Smith Lumer Co. – $15 value in lumber; J. Fell – $5; William Reed – $20; John Eade $10.”

The cost of the completed church, including furnishings was $464.34. Of this, $100 was borrowed from Sarah Fielder at 8% interest and this note was repaid in April 1878. Men working on the church were served their meals by Mrs. Joseph Eade, who was reimbursed a total of $39.75 for serving 371 working men’s meals—not quite 11 cents a dinner.

The chapel was officially opened on December 2, 1874. The early trustees of the Somerville Church were J.R. Phillips, Sr. G.A. Eades, Albert Phillips, Thomas Watson and Robert Graham. On May 8, 1902, the name of the church changed from Somerville to Baddow Baptist Church. Services have continued throughout the century except for a period of six years from 1880 to 1886.

The following lines come from a hymn used extensively in the worship of the Baddow Church during its early years:

“Tis God the Spirit leads

In paths before unknown

The work to be performed is ours

The strength is all his own.”

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