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.
Mother's family were Scottish Presbyterians and here she describes
the way the Presbyterian church functions and the role it played
in her life...
is very big in Canada, Canada being made of a large number
immigrants. Being Presbyterian is a very specific thing, Presbyterians
feel a cut above... they feel they are the chosen people,
to be on the right hand of God..
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
is so important, because you have to be able to read the Bible
go to church on Sunday, but the church is also part of your
life...the main thrust of our social occasions was the life going
on within the church... I mean I taught Sunday school and
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
we did little broadcasts, the church did one every sunday."
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:
of my earliest memories is going to Evangelistic meetings
parents who very often sang at the meetings... it was a kind of
a primitive religion, there was a good deal of emotion and
I don't think my parents were that religious per se but they were
drawn in by the music.
was no alcohol consumption in my family, absolutely none.
was no card playing, no dancing. I only learned to play cards as
an adult at teacher training college and then I discovered
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
my Father was growing up, the family continued to be members of
the Methodist Church....
were Methodists except by the time I went to Sunday school
became part of the United Church, which was a combination of Methodists,
Congregationalists and some Presbyterians joined together .....
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.
was undoubtedly a unifier of the community.
think religion was something I believed pretty well in. I
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.”
Dad here describes some of the reasons why Huron County had
become a "dry" province....
was dry and had been since 1870. People came from Devon to
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
the Atlantic it would be necessary to give up drink."
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:
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”.
Back to top