History – Our Beginning

150 years ago, in 1859, Georgetown was just a very small village. Trafalgar Road was the main trade route north from Lake Ontario to Grey County and was a planked road. The now highway #7 was also by then a planked  road between York (Toronto) and Guelph, with a toll at the top of the steep Silvercreek Hill. The railway had come to town bringing with it increased population and business. It had opened with much fanfare, in 1856, and a feat of engineering, the “iron bridge” that beautiful huge stone structure crossing the Credit River, is still the one in use today.


Maple Avenue was not there and the Main Street ended where Maple Avenue now is, and only a dirt road led out into the countryside. The four corners at Main and Mill anchored the business area although the street was a only a mud road, with planked sidewalks, and of course there was the large mill pond, later known as Wilber Lake right here in the downtown area. Downtown contained several stores and businesses, including a blacksmith shop and carriage maker, and by then a post office. The town had been mapped out in 1854, and the local Historical Society are extremely lucky to have one of the only known remaining original copies of that map. It shows an fairly large and active town with the Congregationalists, Methodists, Anglicans and the Catholics already with buildings (as mentioned in the latest newsletter.)

There were Presbyterian Congregations already established in some outlying areas; The Scotch Block, out at Union and in Norval. Georgetown had been designated as a missionary station, and Presbyterians here had been meeting in local homes and buildings, supplied by student ministers and professors from Knox College. In 1860, they decided it was time for them to have their own congregation in the now flourishing town. For twelve months, under the guidance of Rev. Robert Burns, who had been a professor at Knox College, the people worked and worshiped together, meeting in various other local churches, and we assume that it was at the official service of recognition as a congregation, that Rev. Burns presented Knox with the large pulpit bible that he had brought with him from the old country. Hand written by him, in that Bible is the date October 13, 1860, and it is that date we take as our official Anniversary date.

Rev Burns along with student ministers, continued to lead the congregation who worshiped in the old town hall, the Wesleyan Methodist church, and in the original wooden Congregational church right next door here. In 1865, they ordained their first officially hired minister, Rev. Robert Ewing, who had started preaching here in 1862, as a student minister. As we think about the ongoing money challenge we seem to face today, can you imagine the confidence and determination of these early pioneers, who themselves struggled with the challenges of day to day living, as they attempted to raise enough money to purchase a piece of land on which to build their church. Unfortunately, there are no actual written records in newspapers or church minutes to give us an accounting, but we do know that our ancestors were possessed of strength that even with our modern conveniences, we can only envy. They lived and worked together in close proximity, all with a common goal of erecting their own church building in which they could worship. They accomplished that by 1867, and here we are today, carrying on, trying to make them proud and giving thanks for their foresight, and efforts.

…Dawn Livingstone, October 2009