Emmanuel East Campus
In fields and log cabins in the 1830s, the early Methodists were served by “saddle-bag” preachers who travelled a circuit in the Peterborough area to minister to the religious needs of the people. The Legislative Council of Upper Canada granted land in 1834 on which to erect a structure for divine worship, and a year later a Wesleyan Methodist Congregation was formed. The first church, a small frame building, was built in 1837; and in 1843 a larger, stronger building of heavy timbers and brick was built near the first church. Following construction of the third and current church, this second building was converted to multiple dwellings, and finally torn down in the late 1990s. The heavy timbers were saved and used to construct an outdoor pavilion at the Peterborough Centennial Museum, so a bit of our church’s built heritage was preserved, and is now on display and in use at the museum.
In 1872 the congregation decided to build the current church building. The architect retained for the new church was Henry Langley of Toronto, the designer of the Metropolitan Methodist Church in downtown Toronto. Our church closely resembles Metropolitan. The formal opening and dedication of the new building took place on Christmas Day 1875. In 1891 a 40-foot church tower was completed with four large pinnacles at the corners and four smaller pinnacles in between. High on the tower front is a cast of John Wesley’s face.
In 1897, a parsonage was constructed on the church property facing Water Street and was used for that purpose until 1959. The house accommodated the Sunday School for a few years to alleviate crowding; but by the mid-1960s when declining attendance made use of the house unnecessary, an agreement was made with the Children’s Aid Society for the building to be used as a Day Care Centre. The Day Care was officially opened in March 1968 by The Right Honourable Lester B. Pearson, Prime Minister of Canada. He, as a small boy, lived in the house from 1907 to 1910 while his father, The Reverend Edwin A. Pearson, was Minister of the church.
The church organ, purchased from a Toronto Church and used in the second church building, was installed in the new church. Apparently the organ was unsatisfactory: it was sold and a new one purchased. In 1931 a fine Casavant organ was acquired for $17,700. Today the organ is insured for more than $800,000.
As early as 1913 more space was needed for the Sunday School. A new Sunday School building was opened in September 1927 and dedicated to those who died in World War I.
In 1925 our Methodist traditions were enriched by our union with many Presbyterians and Congregationalists. In 1969 the Evangelical United Brethren denomination became part of the United Church of Canada.
In the late 1990s, paint on the ceiling of the sanctuary began to peel, and the Property Committee proceeded to investigate the cause and found that moisture was entering the building through the roof and the walls. When the leakage problem was resolved, a ceiling restoration committee was established in May 2000. In the process of removing paint from the ceiling and the walls, a significant find of old stencilling and artwork was uncovered. Experts on the committee were impressed with the excellent quality of the work and estimated that it was created in the mid-1930s. The congregation approved a proposal to proceed with the painting of the sanctuary and the restoration of the artwork. A fundraising campaign was launched and applications were made for federal and provincial grants to help offset the substantial cost of this ambitious project. Following completion of the work in the sanctuary, The Historical Sites and Monuments Board of Canada designated the original church building in which the sanctuary is located as a National Historic Site of Canada.
The sanctuary is beautiful and a tangible reflection of the work of 20th and 21st century artists and craftsmen. Upon entering this place of worship, one cannot help but feel a sense of its history.