Visiting the historic Erskine Church: memories of 19th century Pickering, Ontario
The living past in the Durham Region
In the Durham Region's Pickering, the Erskine Church serves as a link of continuity with the city's past.
19th century origins
Already by 1954, the church building's centenary was being commemorated. An historical booklet was issued for this centenary and may be viewed in the Pickering Public Library. The Erskine Church has sometimes been called the White Church and certainly its exterior is kept well painted in this colour.
The inception of the church was through Presbyterians who mainly hailed from Scotland. Earlier in the 19th century, a Presbyterian group met locally in a log schoolhouse. Records indicate that for Pickering's Presbyterians the events surrounding Mackenzie's Rebellion of 1837 were subjected to most lively discussion. It is fair to note, however, that the tenor of existing records regarding Presbyterians in Pickering in the mid-19th century seems to indicate an emphasis on matters of Scripture study and matters of the spirit, rather than on the wider issues of secular politics.
In 1854, the cost of the building was said to amount to one thousand dollars. Very shortly after its inception, it became known as the Erskine Church.
1932 move and preservation
Originally built about 100 metres nearer to Fairport Road, in 1932 the Erskine Church building was moved to its present location, still near the intersection of Fairport and Finch Roads. Despite the move, the building was kept essentially intact and much of the original wooden furnishings may still be seen in its interior.
For decades already, the Pickering Council has taken an active interest in the preservation of this important piece of local history.
Other local features
In the nearby cemetery, a Pioneer Memorial monument, referred to sometimes as a cairn, recalls early European settlers in the area. First Nations inhabitants of the Pickering area, and other historical information, are also described on information panels situated at the junction of the Pickering Waterfront with the end of Liverpool Road.
The local history section of Pickering Library, situated in the CIty Hall complex on The Esplanade, contains valuable documents regarding the religious and secular history of the former Pickering Township.
Also worth visiting
The immediate Durham region has various buildings and structures of historic interest. A few of these include:
McKay House, Ajax (distance: approx. 13.6 kilometres) this structure, which dates from 1854, is the only 2 story fieldstone house still existing in Ajax. Sometimes known also as Charnacy, this name refers to the original owner's birthplace in Scotland.
Pickering Museum Village , Greenwood (distance: approx. 15.1 kilometres), situated on Duffins Creek , it contains various examples of interesting, heritage buildings, including a Temperance Hotel, a number of barns, a blacksmith's and woodworking shop, Redman House, a Bible Christian Chapel, a General Store, and a Gift Shop.
Parkwood, Oshawa (distance: approx. 27.9 kilometres); this striking, stately home is open to the public. Formely the home of founder of General Motors of Canada, Colonel Sam McLaughlin, its extensive grounds and noteworthy, pillared portico are a local landmark.
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 Airport to Pickering: approx. 47.8 kilometres). GO Train operates a service between Union Station, Toronto and Pickering. Highway 401 gives straightforward access to Pickering. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.
MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.
Other of my hubpages may be of interest
- Visiting Ontario's Ajax: Rural Gothic Revival architecture, at Post Hill House
This rather pleasing house at 132 Kingston Road West is the sole surviving example in Ontario's Town of Ajax of Rural Gothic Revival. 19th century background 'Rural' it certainly was in what is now...
- Visiting Ontario's Parkwood, at Oshawa: memories of a Canadian automobile tycoon
It would be a misconception to assume that Colonel R. S. ('Sam') McLaughlin was an isolated figure in Oshawa's burgeoning automobile industry. In fact, Sam McLaughlin and his brother George followed their...
- Visiting the Arctic Watershed near Northern Ontario's Kenogami Lake: historical boundary of Rupert's
In the course of my travels, I have on a number of occasions passed a boundary in Canada, which lies to the north of Kenogami Lake, ON, in the Timiskaming District. The boundary in question is known as the...
- Visiting Quebec's Moorside at the Mackenzie King Estate, Chelsea: memories of F D Roosevelt and Wins
This tranquil home, in the peace and seclusion of a part of Gatineau Park (French: Parc de la Gatineau ) is where Canada's long-serving Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King (1874-1950) received...
- Visiting New York's Broderick Park, Buffalo: poignant memories of the Underground Railroad
On Squaw Island, within the City of Buffalo, New York, is the now tranquil and scenic Broderick Park, but replete with poignant memories of the Underground Railroad. Some history This...