History – Fire of 1901

About 2 pm on a Saturday afternoon, the 16th of February 1901, smoke was seen pouring out at
the back end of Knox Church, and in a few minutes, the beautiful 14 year old stone church, was
engulfed in smoke and flames. The local volunteer fire brigade did a great job to control the fire,
since the stone walls and slate roof contained it to the interior, making it extremely difficult for
them. At that time, our water came from a reservoir at Silvercreek, and according to the
newspaper, the fall at the church was one of the strongest in town, at 197 feet. Fortunately, most
of the furnishings including a piano in the basement were all saved, as were the pulpit and pulpit
chairs, and the original pulpit bible. Most importantly, the windows were also left intact! A great
deal of credit was due to our local fire brigade, who did a great job in saving the building. They
figured that the fire had started in the furnace, which was down in the basement under the front
of the church, and on the Monday following, the Board of Managers held a special meeting at
which time they made a resolution exonerating the caretaker of any blame in connection with the

Fortunately, most of the damage, including the organ, was covered by insurance. However for
some reason, it did not cover the beautiful newly laid carpet which had been paid for by the
ladies groups. It was reported that “Rev. Mr. Perrin and his people are going into the matter of
repairing their place of worship with characteristic vim and commendable enthusiasm.” In one
month’s time, tenders had been let to clean the stonework, and proceed with the reconstruction of
the building, to restore it just as it had been. A new organ was purchased for $1,000. Other
local churches offered their facilities while work was going on. It didn’t really take too long, and
on the 8th of December, the congregation once again were able to worship in their own Church
home. That must have been a somewhat miserable morning, weather wise because a newspaper
reporting on the re-opening declared “It would have taken more than unfavourable weather to
even effect such feeling and enthusiasm; and the falling snow and an altogether disagreeable day
passed almost entirely unnoticed.”

We have one photograph, taken from a very old postcard that shows the interior of that early
church. Watch the slide on the wall and picture part of this description from a Brampton
newspaper. “To adequately describe the inside of the church, we confess, transcends the power
of our humble pen.” “The interior of the Presbyterian church may well stand as a harmonious
conception of modern decorative art in its best form. The back-ground colouring of the walls is a
dark brown terra cotta. A stencil fresco border done in tints of blue and terra cotta encircles the
walls where they meet the ceiling. The transept windows area done in a shade of blue, dotted
irregularly with gold stars. The floor is covered with a rich Brussels carpet. The seats are
polished black ash. Three splendid brass electroliers hang suspended from the ceiling. A
beautiful pipe organ, in itself an artistic decoration, stands at the back of the choir alcove. Above
the choir alcove, flung out in relief, stretches the church’s old motto “Blessed be Jehovah,
Israel’s’ God.” The effect of the whole is one of beauty and rest, and to sit from Sabbath to
Sabbath, amid such surroundings, is in itself purifying and elevating, and conducive to the spirit
of worship.” While the description and photograph show a beautifully ornately decorated
sanctuary, I am very happy to worship in the nice bright uplifting one we have today.

As we remember this morning the loved ones lost over the past year, some of whom were long
time contributors to our congregation, and as we head into our 150th anniversary, we remember
and give thanks for the strengths of our forefathers. Let us all try to work together, take strength
from their efforts, and carry on and build on their accomplishments.

….Dawn Livingstone 10 February 2010