About Us :: A History of St. George's
This history is based on a talk given by Nan Maitland, a lifelong parishioner at St. George's and a great-granddaughter of William Jabez Marsh, the founder of both the Village of Clarksburg and St. George's. On January 1st, 1998, the Town of Thornbury amalgamated with the Township of Collingwood, which included Clarksburg, Craigleith and much of the Beaver Valley, becoming the Town of The Blue Mountains.
In 1858, William Jabez Marsh traveled from Holland Landing to purchase 500 acres of Crown land adjacent to the village of Thornbury. After choosing a location for his own farm and home, he donated 2.5 acres for the building of a church and rectory. While the church was being built the first Anglican services were held at ‘Grape Grange’, the home of Mr. Marsh and his family.
The first church, a frame building erected in 1863 and named St George’s, was located in the newly established village of Clarksburg immediately adjacent to the border with Thornbury in order to serve both municipalities. In writing to a friend, Mr. Marsh described the church in a humorous rhyme:
We have a Church, it has a steeple,
An iron rod and a ball of tin.
I think it will hold 200 people,
If they stand up and are well packed in.
The original church served until 1899 when it was replaced by the present brick structure, erected on the same site. Once the brick church was completed, the original frame church was disassembled and transported in mid-winter by horse-drawn sleighs to Beaverdale where it was re-assembled and continued to serve the congregation there for another half-century.
Over the years, St. George's has undergone numerous changes and improvements. In 1980 an addition was added, providing much needed space for a meeting room, nursery, and rector’s study. A wheelchair accessible entrance to the church and wheelchair accessible washroom were completed in 1995, just in time for veterans in wheelchairs to attend the Remembrance Day service. At this time, the bell tower was found to be in need of reinforcement, so a new steeple with cross and matching roof went up in 1998.
Many of the historically significant furnishings in St. George's, including the main altar, came from the rural church of Holy Trinity at Victoria Corners which was closed in 1969 and the parish amalgamated with St. George's. Other furnishings, including the beautiful stained glass windows that now grace the church, have been donated as memorials. The two-manual Keats-Geisler pipe organ has periodically been renovated and improved and is now recognized as one of the finest instruments in the area.
The brick rectory located next to the church was built in 1867 and has been well maintained. In 1985 major renovations were undertaken including re-wiring, the installation of insulation and upgrading of the plumbing. In 2008, further improvements were made to the rectory, including replacement of the hardwood flooring throughout the ground floor. When the old flooring was removed it was discovered that newspapers had been installed below the flooring to act as insulation, a common practice in the early 1900s. Some of these newspapers were from the Toronto Globe, a predecessor of the Globe & Mail. We are currently renovating the kitchen with new flooring, cabinets and appliances. This work will be finished in May of this year.
A Garden of Remembrance, which had long been a dream of the parish, was begun in 2000 and completed and dedicated on July 22nd, 2001. This garden is a peaceful setting on consecrated ground, with perpetual care. It is available to anyone, irrespective of denomination or religion, for the scattering of ashes.
Over the years, three "boys" of the parish later became bishops: Bishop Peter Rowe, Bishop of Alaska; Bishop Harold Appleyard, Bishop of Georgian Bay; and Bishop Henry Marsh, Bishop of the Yukon. In addition, two sons of William Marsh, the church founder, became clergy: The Rev Canon Tom Marsh of Hay River, N.W.T. and The Rev Canon Charles Marsh, of Lindsay. Other clergy who grew up at St George’s include The Rev Kershaw Alexander of Woodstock and Flint, Michigan and The Rev Stuart Hicks, who spent several years in Northern Saskatchewan before serving in England.
Our current Rector is The Reverend Grayhame 'Gray' Bowcott. Gray+ brings to our parish his passion for church growth and vibrancy, his focus on intergenerational worship and community building, his gifts as a musican, teacher and preacher and his authencity as a follower of Jesus.
As a priest in the Diocese of Huron, Rev. Gray has led many congregations to experience numerical growth and spiritual transformation. Foremost among these was his mission project of reopening the closed and deconsecrated church of St. Anne's in Port Franks. Ontario - a first in the history of the Anglican Church of Canada. These ministry gifts continue to be cultivated as Grayhame completes his Doctor of Ministry degree at the Toronto School of Theology through Wycliffe College. His research focus is the local theologies that set growing congregation in the Diocese of Huron and Toronto apart from the many that are in decline. He hopes his research will provide useful insights in future years within the Anglican Church of Canada.
St George’s has never lacked for caring, dedicated men and women to give of their talents, time and treasure, to glorify God in his church in Clarksburg. The spirit of hope, love and hospitality is evidenced every day. Newcomers are welcomed and made to feel at home. The future of the parish looks bright as we strive to cultivate the Fruits of the Spirit.
Rector: The Reverend Grayhame Bowcott
Sunday Services: 8 AM and 10 AM
166 Russell Street, P. O. Box 9,
Clarksburg, ON. N0H 1J0
Church Office 519-599-3047
St. George’s is fully accessible