The Church was organized August 23, 1857, in the home of Mr. Babcock at 300 Wellington Street, when six women and three men were enrolled as Charter Members of the first organized Baptist Church in Ottawa.
Entering from the front door on Laurier Avenue, on your left, before you go up the stairs, you will see the cornerstone of this building, laid by the Prime Minister of Canada, Alexander MacKenzie, on July 26, 1877. Prior to that date the congregation used a rented hall for worship, and then a neat stone building on the south side of Queen Street, between Elgin and Metcalfe Streets.
The window over the main door was installed in 1878 when the Church was built. This window presents a fine example of 19th century art and craftsmanship, embodying designs and techniques that go back over hundreds of years.
Notice how the richness of the deep blue and red colours is complemented by the white and gold of the lilies in the inner circle, which blend with varying shades of brown and rose. The roseate design, so common in ancient cathedrals, is prominent in the centre of the window. Other Christian symbols can be seen in the details of the various patterns.
A section of glass on the lower right of the window was badly damaged during the 1960’s; it was covered temporarily by a piece of plain window glass. Repairs, including the restoration of the original design, were carried out by Mr. Ernest Rishworth of Ottawa. The restored window’s full glory is best displayed in the morning light of the Sunday services each week. Like the large Edwards-Cameron Memorial Window over the gallery, it provides the congregation with a real “adventure in light and colour.”
Once displayed here, and now in Blatchly Hall, are photographs of the Pastors of the Church since 1857. They are:
1861-1863 – The Rev. James Mackie
1863-1865 – The Rev. R.J. Langridge
1865-1871 – The Rev. Daniel McPhail
1871-1882 – The Rev. A.A. Cameron
1882-1889 – The Rev. A.P. McDiarmid
1889-1893 – The Rev. G.M.W. Carey
1893-1897 – The Rev. R.R. McKay
1897-1911 – The Rev. A. A. Cameron (2nd term)
1912-1915 – The Rev. Benjamin Goodfield
1917-1924 – The Rev. A.N. Marshall
1924-1926 – The Rev. E.E. Sayles (no picture)
1927-1931 – The Rev. A. Robert George
1932-1971 – The Rev. Stuart Ivison
1971-1983 – The Rev. Dr. Ralph Cummings
1984-1987 – The Rev. John Watson
1988-1995 – The Rev. Dale R. Soble
1996-2008 – The Rev. Deborah Dempsey
2008-2009 – The Rev. Neil Hunter (Interim Minister – no picture)
2009-2011 – The Rev. Fred Demaray (Interim Minister – no picture)
2011-present – The Rev Dr. Scott Kindred-Barnes (no picture)
When you enter the Church from the door at the top of the stairs, your attention is drawn to the side windows, designed and executed by Peter Howarth, ARCA. The design of the windows illustrates an ancient hymn, Benedicite Omnia Opera, from the Song of the Three Children:
O all ye Works of the Lord, bless ye the Lord, praise Him, and magnify Him for ever. O ye Angels of the Lord, O ye Heavens, O ye Waters that be above the Firmament…O all ye Powers of the Lord, O ye Sun and Moon, O ye Stars of Heaven…O ye Showers and Dew, O ye Winds of God, O ye Fire and Heat…O ye Winter and Summer, O ye Dews and Frosts…O ye Frost and Cold, O ye Ice and Snow…O ye Nights and Days, O ye Light and Darkness…bless ye the Lord, praise Him, and magnify Him for ever.
The Memorial Window, also the work of Peter Howarth, is grandly displayed behind the organ at the back of the church. Christ the Carpenter is shown in the centre, while a lumberman, symbolizing the dignity of labour, and a riverman, symbolizing Creation, are displayed on the sides. Within the design the Tree of Life, the Vine, the Cross, and the Dove are all used. The lower panel shows typical Canadian trees in spring, autumn, and winter.
On the west wall of the Church is the Baptistry – a unique feature in Baptist churches – paneled in oak. It is situated so that it may be seen by the congregation when standing, but the central place of worship is reserved at the front for both the pulpit, representing the Word, and the Communion table.
The reredos is the ornamental screen which covers the wall behind the pulpit. On the reredos are three panels of contrasting colours, heightened by the brilliance of gold-leaf.
The centre panel shows a wreathed Cross with the symbols of the Trinity. From a shield at the base bearing the letters I H S (the first three Greek letters of the name “Jesus”) grows the True Vine – symbol of our Lord.
In the left panel is shown a wreathed Crown with starry orbs, symbolizing eternal life. Below, and continuing into the right panel, are the symbols of the Twelve Apostles. The symbols in the left panel:
Thomas -Spear and Carpenter’s Square
James the Less -Saw
Matthias -Knife and Book
Matthew -Three Purses
Simon -Fish on Closed Book
James, the Brother of John -Scallop Shell
At the base, a shield bears the Greek letters Alpha Omega: the Beginning and the End.
In the right panel is shown a Crown wreathed with thorns, symbolizing martyrdom and sacrifice. The symbols of the remaining six Apostles:
John -Chalice and Coiled Serpent
Andrew -X-shaped Cross
Philip -Double-barred Cross and Spear
At the base is a shield, bearing the Greek letters Chi Rho, the sacred monogram of Christ.
A number of memorials are displayed on the walls. Below the organ, an oak tablet reads, “The windows and woodwork were placed in this Church as a loving memorial to John Cameron Edwards and John Archibald Cameron by their sons and daughters. The Glory of Children are Their Fathers.” This tablet was placed after the Church was remodeled and the Memorial Window installed in 1929.
A second oak tablet reads, “To the Glory of God, and in loving memory of John Alfred McDonald, 1874-1935, and his wife, Margaret Stroud, 1875-1964. This memorial is a tribute of Love, Gratitude, and Affection from their children. Trust in the Lord with all thine heart.” This tablet was placed after the installation of the organ in 1966.
A brass tablet which was originally in Parson Memorial Hall reads as follows: “Dedicated as a tribute to the Life Work of Mrs. C.E. Parson, Ottawa,
by the W.B.H.M.S. East Ont. And Que. May 17, 1921.” Placed in the Church as part of our anniversary celebrations on May 19, 1992, this work was unveiled by Mrs. Parson’s grandson, C. Avery Parson.
Just to the left of this plaque is the silver trowel given to Alexander MacKenzie, Prime Minister of Canada, when he laid the cornerstone on July 26, 1877. It was returned to the Church by his grandson some years later.
A brass plaque honouring Dr. R.J. Cummings, a former Pastor of the Church, is displayed on the east wall, while the west wall shows a plaque honouring the Rev. Stuart Ivison. This plaque was placed to mark the 50th anniversary of his ordination.
The other memorials in the Sanctuary: the Lectern, placed in memory of Frederick MacAllister who was killed while serving as a member of the R.C.A.F. during the Second World War; the flower stands, given by Mrs. Weld in memory of her husband, W.E. Weld; the Communion silver, given by Justice J.E. Read and Mrs. Read to honour their son, James, killed in action at Falaise on August 8, 1944; and the brass candlesticks and offering plates, given by Mrs. F.T. Rosser in memory of her husband, Dr. Frederick T. Rosser.
The brass memorials on the west wall honour members who served in the Armed Forces during the First and Second World Wars. They provide the focal point for the Remembrance Day Service held each year in November.
On the table under the Baptistry you will see the marble stone which came from the Queen Street chapel, where the congregation worshipped before the construction of this building.
Leaving the Sanctuary by one of the west doors you will enter the Church Office, where there is a plaque in memory of Earle J. Andrew, given by his wife, Naomi, to mark a donation of computer equipment.
In the Pastor’s Office can be seen a plaque in memory of Joseph Guillaume. His wife, Hilda, arranged for the refurnishing of the study in her husband’s memory.
The stairs will lead you down to the Lower Hall where there are a number of other memorials, as well as a display of pictures and historical memorabilia.
The Weld Room, furnished by the Weld family in memory of their mother, is a tastefully appointed room used for meetings and classes. The Children’s Classroom is a memorial to Mrs. Annie McArthur Hart, furnished by her daughter, Mrs. James Fearn.
In the Social Room, the Weld Room, and the Director of Music’s Office are chairs which were restored by Melba Hollis in memory of her husband, Charles.