Saddle-bag preachers began to serve the needs of the Bar River Methodists, while Mr. Thomas Nott filled in for Methodist ministers in the southern end of the township. Many of the early records of these saddle-bag ministers have been lost to us, because of the habit they had of carrying all their work with them. Some of the earliest ministers in the area were the Reverends McKee, Grouse, and Parkinson. The latter died at Garden River. In 1889 – 90, the Rev. J.E. Wilson, from Echo Bay, served the Methodist needs for the Bar River area. Rev. J.D. Fitzpatrick followed and in 1890 the part of the Garden River Circuit including the Laird Township Churches, became known as the Port Findlay Charge. The Reverends T.G. McAtee, H.S. Lee, Gilbert Robinson and J.R. Wilkinson all served the Bar River Methodists after 1890 for brief periods of time.
It was 1897 that the Bar River Methodists became officially organized. With increasing membership and more settlers in the area, a central location had to be found for worship. The services moved to the Orange Hall, and in that year the Rev. John Coburn arrived from Toronto. Dr. Coburn returned in 1948 to help dedicate 50 years of worship in the United Church at Echo Bay. During that visit, he had the unique experience of being present at the Golden Wedding celebrations of Mr. and Mrs. Alex Stewart, the first couple to say their vows before him. In the year 1909 the residents of Bar River settlement got together and constructed the first Methodist Church. It was built on the Evoy property to the east of the village, in the heart of the fertile farmland that these early settlers dearly loved. The Rev. Austin P. Stanley was the minister of the day. His duties were described in church records as being assigned to the cares and concerns of the “Evoy’s Appointment”. It remained part of the Port Findlay Circuit until it became known as part of the Echo Bay Circuit and was known as such until 1925. The Methodist church had a unique feature which was a belfry with a bell which tolled out the hours of service and urged latecomers to “put an inch to their step”.
Curious to know more? Delve Further Into The Methodist Church In Laird here:
Laird Chronicles Chapter 4 – The Churches Of Laird
Laird History Volume Two – Churches
Photos – Bibles, Hymnals, Devotionals
Photos – Books & Sunday School
Photos – Church Records