Church: Hiram Walker's Spiritual Legacy
church, with its pretty sylvan setting, and well-kept cemetery attached,
is full of reposeful charm. Looking at this building, with its ivy-mantled
tower, one might easily imagine himself ...in England, and
that when darkness descends on the scene, the "solemn stillness"
might be broken by the voice of the "moping owl" complaining to
the moon, Of such as, wandering near her secret bower, Disturb her
ancient, solitary reign. From Walkerville 1913, The Evening
Record (The Record Printing Co.), Windsor, Ontario, compiled by
H.W. Gardnerwt head plusThe Foundation : 1874 - 1902
organized congregation in Walkerville was the village church, built
by town founder Hiram Walker at his own expense. His wife
Mary Abigail, who had died in 1872, had shared his great interest
in the community and as she was an earnest and devoted churchwoman,
it was largely through her that Walker's interest in the social
and religious welfare of his people was awakened.wt bodyWalker erected
the church in 1874 on Sandwich St. (Riverside Drive), the site of
what later become the Walkerville post office and civic offices.
was originally Methodist as Walker had surveyed his workers as to
their preferences of services. wt bodyEach minister appointed to
the church by the Canadian Methodist Conference was "distinctly
given to understand that no reference was to be made to the liquor
traffic during his stay".
two ministers observed this stricture but the third, the Rev. Alex.
Hardie evidently did not for Walker discontinued Methodist services
in the church and closed it for two years. wt bodyIt is thought
that Walker's actions were caused partly by business worries as
his firm was feeling the effects of a general depression in Canadian
trade and business.
was on the verge of collapse several times and was saved only by
the tenacity of its founder and the patience of its employees.wt
bodyWalker offered the church to the Anglicans but they were reluctant
to undertake the expenseof a new church in such a small community
and only amile and a half from All Saints in Windsor. However, Walker
undertook to make up any deficit, and on this arrangement, Church
of England services commenced, and the church was named St. Mary's.
(The East Window, a memorial to his wife, was given to St. Paul's
Church, Essex in 1904.)
it became apparent that St. Mary's, lacking both chancel and vestry,
was not large enough for the congregation and the Sunday school
rooms were inadequate.
trains also disturbed services.Times HelveticaWalker died in 1899,
and three of his surviving sons, Edward Chandler, Franklin Hiram,
and James Harrington, offered to provide a new church, Sunday school
and rectory, in memory of both their parents.
edifice was erected on the centre of Devonshire Road, just north
of Niagara Street. The cornerstone was laid on May 25, 1903, and
the building was consecrated on April 10, 1904.
to Walkerville will find in St. Mary's Church a bit of 16th century
England transplanted to North America. Here is reproduced the English
scene of church, churchyard and rectory, and nearby is Willistead
taking the place of the English manor house. Combined these buildings
make a picture of peace and beauty found in England, rarely found
in America, which will endure and grow in beauty with the passing
terms St. Mary's belongs to the Perpendicular period of sixteenth
century Gothic when most of the smaller English churches were built.
The joy of St. Mary's is found in the creative work of the artists
who added their own personalities to what otherwise would have been
at best a faithful reproduction of a by gone age. Ernest Wilby,
1868-1957, associate with Albert Kahn. Buried in St. Mary's Churchyard
to John Riddle, Reverend Canon of St. Mary's for the last ten years,
Ralph Cram, the designer of the church, "might not have taken
on the work if it had been offered six months later. He had secured
the contract to build Westpoint upon completion of St. Mary's and
his reputation soared along with all of his artisans, Bertham Good
hue, Henry Mercer and John Kershmire."
arriving at St. Mary's in 1989, Reverend Riddle's congregation has
grown to two hundred families and the average age is younger. Riddle
feels part of the reason may be because we are living in a religious
more people are looking for a faith. People are spiritual by nature
and that's why many are seeking to add a spiritual meaning to their
lives, whether it be new-age mysticism or something more traditional."
Walker, who was always concerned with the welfare of his employees
and citizens, would have been pleased with the development of St.
Mary's Food Cupboard. Founded in 1987 by Frank & Grace Hull,
the foundation provides families in need from all areas of the city
with a three day supply of groceries.
they helped 13,000 clients and this number continues to rise. The
food cupboard is run by volunteers and all donations are used to
feed the hungry. No money is spent on administrative costs. St.
Mary's Food Cupboard relies on the kindness and generosity of their
congregation and the community.
or your business would be interested in donating food or funds,
please contact Alexandra Snider at 253-5221.