A Brief History Of Echo Bay United Church
The forerunner of the present church, was a simple log building which was known as Zion Methodist Church. It was built on Mr William Alton’s property, on what is now Watson’s Road, prior to 1897. The church at this time was served by Methodist ministers who lived in Garden River.
There was some disagreement regarding the site of the new church until it was finally resolved that it be built on a half acre of land donated by Mr R. Rush (its present location). The building cost $595. The cornerstone was laid in 1897 by Rev Manning of Sault Ste Marie, assisted by Rev John Coburn, and William H. Hearst (later Sir William Hearst) a lawyer and member of parliament.
In 1917 the congregation became a Union Church, and later in 1925 officially became a part of the new United Church of Canada. This union brought together the Methodist, Presbyterian and Congregational denominations. The first minister was a Presbyterian while all his predecessors had been Methodist.
In 1949 Mr and Mrs Alfred Keating donated land directly behind the church building. This property was very valuable later when the decision was made to raise and renovate the Church.
Later the washrooms, and minister’s office were added, as well as a larger kitchen.
Numerous changes have occurred over the years, but through them all this congregation has played a vital role in the life and times of the community.
A Brief History Of Bar River United Church
First Religious Services
Oneof the first settlers to what was later to be known as Bar River was Mr John Evoy. Mr Evoy conducted services in his home long before there was a church. Many of the early settlers also attended church at either Zion Methodist Church ( Echo Bay) or Bethel Methodist Church ( Sylvan Valley). These were both log churches.
In the years 1890-1891 a Sunday School was started at the Bluff school and John Evoy was the superintendent. This school was located in the vicinity of the corner of Reilly and Government Roads.
Methodist Church Oragnized
In 1897 Dr John Coburn held Methodist services in the Orange Hall (located across from the Presbyterian Church). Worship services were held there for a few years, but the Methodist cause apparently fell through temporarily in about 1903.
In 1907 the Methodist Church reorganized in the home of Mr Bill Evoy (John Evoy’s son). It was called Evoy’s appointment.
In 1909 a Methodist Church was built on John Evoy’s homestead.
Talk of Church union had been going on prior to the first World War.
In 1917 a few of the Presbyterians united with the Methodists to form a local union church. The union congregation worshipped in the Methodist church, and was served by Methodist ministers.
In 1919, according to the Circuit Register, this local union church had 27 members (23 of them Methodists, 4 of them Presbyterians).
When Church union took place across Canada in June 1925, Bar River Methodist officially became a part of the new United Church of Canada.
New Church Built
The former church built in 1909 burnt in 1935, only the pews were saved from the fire. A new building was erected in 1935, on land obtained from the Canadian Pacific Railway.
In 1965 an addition was built on the back to accomodate the Sunday School. The inside of the sanctuary was also remodelled at this time.
In the Fall of 1985 a new front entrance was added.
Since that time various changes have been made to make this an attractive and comfortable place of worship