baby Margaret with mother and grandmoter



When we were growing up in England, my family rarely if ever went to church, yet the Church had played a huge part in my Mother's life and to a lesser extent in that of my father.

Building a new Presbyterian Church, 1958, Hugh Davidson standing fourth from left


My Mother's family were Scottish Presbyterians and here she describes the way the Presbyterian church functions and the role it played in her life...

"Presbyterianism is very big in Canada, Canada being made of a large number of scottish immigrants. Being Presbyterian is a very specific thing, Presbyterians feel a cut above... they feel they are the chosen people, pre-destined to be on the right hand of God..

"It is very much a democratic institution, they don't have bishops, each congregation has its own ruling body. It's based on the Lutheran idea of the priesthood of all believers and that is why education is so important, because you have to be able to read the Bible for yourself.

Children's Hour Broadcast, 1951, Janet seated third from right, front row"You go to church on Sunday, but the church is also part of your social life...the main thrust of our social occasions was the life going on within the church... I mean I taught Sunday school and I belonged to the choir and the young people's church group and there was the strawberry festival in Chatham and there was the feast of the seven tables...this was very exciting and of course we were there for all of those things. Then there was a local radio station sometimes we did little broadcasts, the church did one every sunday."




Methodism and Temperance

My Dad's family while equally strong Protestants, belonged to a different denomination of Protestantism. Here his father, Harold Sturgis describes his early initation into the Methodist Church:

"one of my earliest memories is going to Evangelistic meetings with my parents who very often sang at the meetings... it was a kind of a primitive religion, there was a good deal of emotion and singing. I don't think my parents were that religious per se but they were drawn in by the music.

"There was no alcohol consumption in my family, absolutely none. There was no card playing, no dancing. I only learned to play cards as an adult at teacher training college and then I discovered that both my parents knew how to play cards but had never told me that they could. I was made to sign a pledge that I would not consume alcohol."

When my Father was growing up, the family continued to be members of the Methodist Church....

“We were Methodists except by the time I went to Sunday school the Methodists became part of the United Church, which was a combination of Methodists, Congregationalists and some Presbyterians joined together .....

Jim and Bev in their Sunday best, 1943"I always found it a bit boring on a Sunday to have to get all dressed up in your finest, white shirt and tie and go off to church. Yet it was undoubtedly a unifier of the community.

"I think religion was something I believed pretty well in. I remember seeing a film in the mid 40s on the life of Christ, and it was difficult to resist the impression it had on you that this was the truth.”

My Dad here describes some of the reasons why Huron County had become a "dry" province....

“Exeter was dry and had been since 1870. People came from Devon to the flatlands of Ontario and they wanted to improve themselves. Drink was not something that many of them could afford to indulge in. Moreover, it was widely regarded that drink would make you a poor worker. I think that the issue of drink was a very pragmatic one, people decided that if they were going to succeed in this gamble of crossing the Atlantic it would be necessary to give up drink."

This created a fascination in the young Jim and fuelled his historical research into the temperance movement. He says that bootlegging (illegal production of alcohol) was known to go on in his town and recalls a funny story from his boyhood on this subject:

“We also had bootlegging...and I remember creating quite a laugh once, it was 1948 at the Patrick farm and somebody asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up and I said a bootlegger”.

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