Clam Harbour United Church

For more than 100 years, Clam Harbour's only church was an important part of the community. It was moved to Memory Lane Heritage Village in 2000 and restored to its 1940s decor and exterior.

Clam Harbour was settled in the last quarter of the 1700s. These early settlers built the community’s first church – a multi-purpose building used as a meeting house, school, and place of worship. The original church building was destroyed by a gale, and the salvaged parts were sold by auction on August 1st, 1880. The funds, $29.47, were "held in reserve to help in the building of a new church."

In 1891, work on the "new church" began, and the building opened for worship in 1894, probably in August, although "much finishing work remained to be completed." The congregation built the church under the direction of trained carpenters, Fred and Henry Stoddard. The framework of the building was constructed entirely of hand-hewn timbers, and the basic integrity of the structure, more than a hundred years later, is a testament to the builders' skills. 

The church started life as a Robb Free Church of Scotland, then Presbyterian, and finally as a United Church of Canada, formed by the union of the country’s Presbyterian, Congregationalist, and Methodist churches in 1925. The stained glass windows in the church are more elaborate than those typically found in country churches. The windows were donated to the church in 1937 by Toronto Judge, Frederick Morson, who vacationed annually in Clam Harbour. He commissioned the windows as a gift to the community and had them shipped by rail from Ontario.

The decision to move the church to Memory Lane Heritage Village in 2000 was taken reluctantly by the congregation, but seen as the best way to preserve the church in the face of a declining population and congregation. The Lake Charlotte Area Heritage Society restored the church to its 1940s appearance, which involved building a replica of the original belfry (including a bell), constructing stairs to the balcony, and the restoration of the pews in the balcony. The interior was repainted in its original colours, the exterior sided with wooden shingles, and a replica of the original diamond window built and installed above the entrance. Today, the church is used by many denominations for weddings and ecumenical services, as well as classical music concerts.


A Sacred Move
The story of how the church was moved, as narrated by long-time Clam Harbour resident, Burris Russell ~ Source: Eastern Shore Archives, 07-UC-B ~ Creator: Lake Charlotte Area Heritage Society ~ Date: May 2015
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