Visiting the Ellis Chapel, Puslinch, Ontario: remembering 19th century pioneers

Provincial flag of Ontario
Provincial flag of Ontario | Source
Ellis Chapel, Puslinch, Ontario
Ellis Chapel, Puslinch, Ontario | Source
Historical plaque, Settlement of Puslinch
Historical plaque, Settlement of Puslinch | Source
Pioneer cairn, Ellis Chapel, Puslinch Settlement
Pioneer cairn, Ellis Chapel, Puslinch Settlement | Source

A preserved, Methodist chapel, carefully restored

The Settlement of Puslinch, now known as a township, is located in Wellington County, Ontario. The settlement was thus named by Sir John Colborne (1778-1863), Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada from 1828 to 1836, because Elizabeth, Lady Colborne, was born in Puslinch (1), Devon, England.

What is now Puslinch, Ontario, is known to have been inhabited by First Nations prior to 1651. It was surveyed by Augustus Jones in 1784, which is notably prior to the establishment of the colony of Upper Canada in 1791. The area was further surveyed by David Jones between 1828 and 1832; these surveys had the effect of opening up the land for widespread settlement.

Many of the original pioneer families in the district were Methodists, and in 1861 the Ellis Chapel was built, under Wesleyan Methodist auspices, for a group known as the Sterling Congregation. The building is named for Edward Ellis, who had lived in Puslinch since 1839, and who gave land for the purpose of building the chapel.

Significant features of the chapel include several, striking Gothic windows, the wide, arched dimension of which allow the interior of the building to be bathed in natural light. The structure is executed in field stone.

A Sunday School was formerly in operation at the building. The chapel fell into disuse, but after about a century of the building's existence descendants of the original, founding families established a trust for its restoration. These efforts led to the building's restoration. The building continues to be used in the summer months.

A pioneer memorial cairn, displaying a number of grave headstones, has been set up in the grounds of the Ellis Chapel. An historical panel at the front of the building has been sponsored by the Archeological and Historic Sites Board of Ontario. There is thus something very attractive about this simple, 19th century chapel, and I myself have visited it a number of times in recent years.

Ellis Chapel is situated at 6705 Ellis Road, Puslinch, Ontario.

April 30, 2012

Note

(1) The Puslinch in Devon, England, is located not far from the historic town of Plymouth. Elizabeth, Lady Colborne, was from the Yonge family, a name well-known to Ontarians because it is borne by the major road artery leading north from Toronto.

Also worth seeing

Puslinch itself also contains the largest kettle lake in Canada, known as Puslinch Lake, thought to have been formed by a receding glacier.

Guelph (distance: 16 kilometres) has McCrea House, Guelph Civic Museum with special memories of World War One poet John McCrae, who wrote 'In Flanders Fields'.

In Waterloo (distance: 27.1 kilometres) is situated Woodside, the boyhood home of William Lyon Mackenzie King, a National Historic Site of Canada

...

How to get there: Air Canada, flies to Toronto Pearson Airport, with wide North American and other connections, from where car rental is available. (Distance from Toronto Pearson to 6705 Ellis Road, Puslinch : approx. 65.6 kilometres.) WestJet and Bearskin Airlines fly to Region of Waterloo International Airport, from where car rental is available, from Calgary and Ottawa respectively. (Distance from Reg. of Waterloo Int. Airport to 6705 Ellis Road, Puslinch: approx. 18.6 kilometres.) Some facilities may be withdrawn without notice. For up to date information, please check with the airline or your travel agent. You are advised to refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

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