OUR HISTORY

 

How the parish got its name ...

Older residents of Sarnia will readily recognize that our parish is named after the late Rev. Canon T.R. Davis, M.A., who for forty years, 1882-1922, was Rector of St. George's Church, Sarnia.

The excellence of his ministry and his active interest in community affairs so endeared him to the people of Sarnia that is seemed only fitting that our parish should be named after him as a memorial.

 

Thomas Robert Davis was born in Kilkenny, Ireland on March 13, 1850. It is believed that he emigrated from Ireland in 1853, In 1873, he was ordained Deacon at London, Ontario and as a Priest the following year. In 1874 he obtained both his B.A. and M.A. in Toronto.

His first charge was at Aylmer in 1874-1879. His next charge was St. Jude's, Brantford, which he left in 1882. 

 

He came to Sarnia in 1882, where he faithfully served until May 28, 1922. He and his wife then left for Vancouver, B.C. where 3 daughters lived.

 

For 39 years he was Chaplain of Victoria Lodge, A.F. & A.M. Sarnia; 26.5 years Chaplain of the 27th Lambton Battalion; and Rural Dean for Lambton. He also served as president of the Upper Canada Bible Society and the Sarnia Board of Education. 

He died December 31, 1925 after three days illness in Vancouver, B.C.

The beginning ....

Canon Collins and the Vestry of St. George's Church succeeded in acquiring the old Anglican Church at Oil Springs which had orginally been purchased by the Synod of huron on May 25, 1866. This was dismantled and moved to Sarnia and erected on the present site of Canon Davis Memorial Church.

 

Canon D.W. Collins was responsible for the setting up of Canon Davis Memorial Parish and on October 23, 1927, he performed the first baptism at the Church.

 

The growth of the Church since 1928 was so rapid that the urgent need for a larger church and a separate meeting place for a Sunday School began to make itself felt. 

At first, a basement under the old building was planned, then a basement with some alterations to the upper structure was considered. Finally, after many, many discussion, the design for the present new structure were found to be satisfactory and were adopted.

The new Church ...

 

Plans for the new building were designed by Mr. Chester C. Woods who spared no effort to make sure that the committee had the best church possible for least outlay. He building was to be a Gothis structure of English Parish Church style, finished inside with a deep walnut stain, open purlins and trusses, the dark finish intended to convey the idea of age. It was to be brick, lined with tile and its tower on the wouth-west corner. The leaded glass windows were to be of amber and green. The church was to be 96 feet long and 36 feet wide, and composed of a main auditorium or nave, 56 feet by 35 feet; chancel, vestry with lavatory and cupboard for clergy robes. Fitted with steam heat using a gas-fired boiler, this feature was considered economical, ensuring cleanliness and saving in janitor services. W.D. Griffin was the general contractor; C. Keith White was responsible for the heating plant; Chambers Electric Company was responsible for the electric wiring and Carter & Company for the painting, glazing and decoration.

 

The old church building was moved to the south and became the Parish Hall. Its auditorium, stage and kitchen became a valuable asset in the Sunday School and life of the parish.

 

The building of the new church necessitate a mortgage of $17,500.00

Mortgage companies would not consider granting such a mortgage to a new and untried parish. Therefore, 32 members of the congregation included their homes in the new mortgage!

The struggle to make payments, particularly as the depression came to its peak, was an epic tale in the history of the parish. The sacrifices of time and effort were great and the rugged perseverance of the parishioners finally carried them through. 

 

On September 30, 1930, the cornerstone was laid by Arthur Kirby, Mayor of Sarnia. Rev. E.C. Jennings of Warwick preached on this occasion before a large congregation of members and friends.

 

The opening dedication service was held on Sunday, January 4, 1931 at 11:00am. Bishop David Williams was received at the door of the Church by Clergy, Churchwardens and others. Capacity congregation filled the church to witness the dedication and to hear the sermon. In the evening, Archdeacon A.L.G. Clarke preached to another capacity congregation.

The Sunday School was growing rapidly and on Sunday, November 20, 1932, attendance at Sunday School was 236.

 

 

December 1, 1949 marks a special service during which the 19 year old morgage on the Church was burned!

$17,500 mortgage with interest of $11,000 makes the total repaid more than $29,000. A study of the trying times in the parish history, and the times in which the people rose to the need when they could. 

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