A Brief History of St. Michael & All Angels Church

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            Our church began as a cemetery on the property of Frances Brown around 1860. Some of Colonel Wolseley’s troops were buried in that cemetery in the 1870’s. Bishop Fauquier of Algoma, purchased the cemetery for the Church of St. John the Evangelist and consecrated it as a cemetery in the autumn of 1875.

            By the late summer of 1887, the Rev. C. J. Machin stopped all burials in the cemetery. He wished to save the rest of the unused land for the future. As early as 1900 a few families living at the top of the hill rather than go down to St. John’s, gathered for services in homes and were known as "the little mission".

            The Little Mission met on December 2, 1906 to plan the building of a new Church and to decide on a name. The Church of St. Michael & All Angels was built in the spring of 1907 and was carried on as a Mission of St. John’s Church.

            June 16, 1907 saw the first service in the new Mission, conducted by the Rev. C. W. Hedley (St. John’s) with 25 persons present. The building was heated with a box stove and common kitchen chairs were used for seating. The first Altar Guild was formed on April 4, 1909.

            On May 12, 1917 the Finance and Advisory Committee of St. John’s Church passed a resolution (with the Archbishop and Chancellor present) consenting to the division of St. John’s parish. By this division St. Michael’s was set apart as a separate Mission from three others in the parish, but still under the mother church of St. John’s.

            The Boy Scouts were formed at St. Michael’s in 1923, and the first Choir was formed in 1924.

            In 1927 St. Michael’s proposed to improve the church building, and in order to raise money by mortgage for this purpose, it was necessary that St. John’s should give up its interest in the former cemetery. Subsequently a Quit Claim Deed, dated October 31, 1927 was executed by the Rector and Wardens of St. John’s Church to the Synod of Algoma to officially separate St. Michael’s from St. John’s parish. The mortgage, however, was not proceeded with. In 1928 St. Michael’s became a self-supporting Mission.

            In the Depression of the 1930’s the taxes on the land fell into arrears, and the property was taken over by the Corporation of the City of Port Arthur. The balance of the property (the old cemetery) was for the time being lost to the Church, and the Synod executed a Quit Claim Deed to the Corporation on May 4, 1936 in satisfaction for the unpaid taxes.

            During the years 1937-38 the roof of the church was repaired, the east end was expanded with an addition and the exterior covered with Insul-brick.
 
            The first pews were purchased and a curtain hung between the addition and the altar, separating the altar from the Sunday School. In 1946 a Ladies’ Choir was formed (up to that time, the choir had been males only!)

Our present day ACW evolved from the Women’s Auxiliary (1912) to the Women’s Guild (1921) and to Anglican Church Women. In June 1949 the building was raised and a basement was built under it. The basement took six months to finish.

            The congregation of St. Michael’s decided to redeem the old cemetery property for the sum of $900 and on August 3, 1950, the Corporation of the City conveyed the land to the Synod of Algoma. Thus the whole of the original cemetery property (with the exception of a 12-foot strip lost through the widening of Windemere Ave.) is now the property of the Church.
 
            At the Vestry Meeting of 1958 a committee was struck to tender for a new church building, and the foundation stone was laid by Archdeacon Hinchcliff on Dec. 4th that same year. The first service in the new building was Trinity Sunday, May 24, 1959, and later on June 8, Archbishop William Wright conducted an open service and dedication of the new church.
 
            A parish visitation in October of 1968 determined that there were 344 registered Anglicans. The first seven stained glass windows were installed in the west wall of St. Michael’s in 1979. In June 1989 construction began on the west end extension to the current church building. Modern rooms for meetings and classes were added. The kitchen was expanded and renovated. The nave of the church was expanded with non-fixed seating to accommodate a variety of needs.
 
A Men’s Fellowship Group was started in 1991, meeting at breakfast on the last Saturday of the month. In August 1992 four more stained glass windows were installed. A Bible Study group was formed in 1993 which meets every other Tuesday morning. In October 1994 work started on St. Michael’s Memorial Garden and the first burial of ashes took place in November of that year.
 
            In 1997 St. Michael’s celebrated its 90th anniversary. Archdeacon Mark Conliffe, who had been rector since 1968, retired in September 2001, and the present rector is the Rev. Peter Smyth, appointed in February 2002. In 2005 we launched our own website www.stmichaelsthunderbay.com; and the Rev. Barb Fugelsang became our Hon. Associate.

           

Brianna Locke poses with Ramesh Ferris when his "Cycle to Walk" trek across Canada stopped in Thunder Bay June 29, 2008.

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