Free Presbyterian Witness in Ontario

Ross Free Presbyterian Cemetery in Brucefield, which contains the graves of Rev. John Ross and Mr. Daniel Clark
History of the Free Presbyterian Witness in Ontario
Rev. Neil Cameron at the Synod of November 1902 reported, “It may be dutiful here to notice the hardships to which all the unions known to us, whether in Scotland or Canada, have put those who value God’s truth above human amalgamations at the expense of losing the great doctrines and principles of the Word of God. This was really the case in Canada. Our people there are not schismatic, neither do they undervalue a gospel ministry; but they loved the crown rights of the Lord Jesus, the doctrines of grace, and the spiritual worship of His true Church too dearly to abandon them at the caprice of graceless men”
Minutes of Meeting held in 1895 by group wishing to join the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland
As there is a number of little groups of people scattered here and there throughout the land who formerly were connected with the Free Church, but who, since the Union of the Presbyterian Churches in Canada, and more especially since the death of Rev. Messrs. Lachlan Macpherson and John Ross……..have been without public means of grace and ordinances of the gospel, and having no organized existence, they, feeling their isolated and destitute condition, agreed to hold a meeting for consultation and advice as to the best means for maintaining a united and organized testimony for truth in doctrine and purity in worship
Letter from Mr. George Forrest 1896
Well, as you aware, there have been two unions of Presbyterians in Canada. The first was between the Free Church and the United Presbyterians in 1861. They were then called the “Canada Presbyterian Church.” Rev. L. Macpherson, whom I mentioned in my last letter, and a large portion of his congregation refused to enter into that union because of the compromise in favour of Voluntaryism contained in the basis of the union
Letter from Mr. George Forrest 1901
But I am sorry to say that the same state of matters prevails on this side of the ocean.  A few years ago there was a sharp contest in the city of Toronto, with respect to running the street cars on the Lord’s Day, and many wrought eagerly and earnestly against the introduction of that profanation of the day of rest.
Petition from Ontario to join the Free Presbyterian Church 1901
To the Moderator and Synod of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland.  Gentlemen, We, the undersigned representatives of several groups of Presbyterians scattered through the western part of the province of Ontario, holding the same views, professing the same faith, and contending for the same pure worship which characterized the Church of Scotland in its best days and now contended for by you, beg to address you and present to you our case as regards gospel ordinances, of which we may say we are entirely destitute at the present time.
Visit of Rev. Neil Cameron to Ontario 1902
At Brucefield we held services the second Sabbath of August, began the services in connection with the solemn ordinance of the Lord’s Supper on the following Thursday, and held services all the usual days as at home (except that we held a prayer meeting instead of the question meeting on Friday). The congregations were very small numerically, but there were a few of the salt of the earth among them. There are two elders in this small congregation, Messrs. George Forrest and Daniel Clark, who act as missionaries throughout all the congregations. These two men are intelligent, steadfast, and of undoubted piety.
Obituary of Mr. Donald Mackenzie, Elder, of Lochalsh, Ontario 1903
This good man was born in the parish of Lochalsh, Scotland, in the year 1815. In 1847 he emigrated to Canada, and eventually settled near Lake Huron, in the township of Ashfield. We have not been able to trace the history of his early religious experiences, but we are disposed to think that ere he left Scotland he was one who feared the Lord. He was not long settled in Canada when he was ordained an elder of “the Free Church of Scotland in Canada.” When “the Free Church of Scotland in Canada” and “the United Presbyterian Church in Canada” by the union of 1861 became one body, he, along with other faithful men in Kincardine and Ashfield, held firmly to the principles professed by the Free Church in 1843, and in consequence found it impossible to enter that union.
Obituary of Mr. Alexander Mackenzie, Elder, of Lucknow, Ontario 1904
Mr. Mackenzie was born in Lochalsh, Ross shire, Scotland, in the year 1824, and came to Canada in 1847.  Some years later he settled on a bush lot in the township of Ashfield, in the county of Huron, Ontario, and by industry soon made a comfortable home for himself in what was until then a “howling wilderness.”  Mr.  Mackenzie was one of a number that could not conscientiously go into the union of the Free Church with the United Presbyterian Church in 1861.
Visit of Rev. Walter Scott to Ontario 1912
Another point was the need of more information about the Free Presbyterian Church. In reply I gave some account of the distinctive position and principles of the Church, and then offered to answer any questions they might put. A number of questions were asked and answered, resulting in satisfaction being expressed and a general agreement indicated. A resolution in favor of joining the Free Presbyterian Church was then moved and seconded. Opportunity for an amendment having been given without result, a show of hands was taken, both for and against. No hand appearing against the motion, the Chairman declared it carried unanimously. Thereafter a petition to the home Synod, in favor of the congregation being received into the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland, was formally adopted without dissent, the Chairman being authorized to sign and forward it to the Synod Clerk, along with an official extract of the Minute, as then read by the Clerk (Mr. M’Neil) and approved of.
Obituary of Mr. George Forrest, Elder of Brucefield, Ontario 1912
It was the year before “the Union” – that Union in connection with which all special testimony to the Kingship of Christ, whether over the Church or over the nations, was dropped.  And to Mr. Forrest, as well as to his minister, the Rev. John Ross of Brucefield, it was to mean separation in the sense of having to “go forth without the camp” for the truth’s sake, bearing Christ’s reproach.  It was a testing time.  Mr. Forrest went through the proceedings as representative elder.  In April, 1875, he attended the meeting of Synod with Mr. Ross, in London (Ontario); and, in June of the same year, he likewise accompanied him to Montreal to the last General Assembly of their Church, at which, along with the Rev. Lachlan Macpherson and his elder, they formally entered their dissent, and tabled their reasons
Obituary of Mr. John Morrison Elder of Bruce County, Ontario 1912
Mr. Morrison left his native district, Scourie in Sutherlandshire, in company with his parents, when he was yet but a boy of ten – upwards of seventy years ago. Not a few eminently pious people left the Reay country for Ontario at the same time, such as Angus M’Eachainn, John Mackenzie, and Alastair Adam, and young Morrison came early under the influence of the living piety of those and other worthies.
Obituary of Rev. Walter Scott of Chesley, Ontario 1916
While in Canada Mr. Scott had occasion to visit the Associate Presbyterian Church of Chesley, which had desired supply from our Synod.  There he preached three Sabbaths, and during this time the congregation decided at a public meeting (8th May) to join the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland.  A petition was immediately forwarded to our Synod, and at its meeting on 2nd July, the Court resolved to receive the Chesley Congregation “as one of the congregations of this Church,” on the basis of the Free Presbyterian constitution.  In succession to this petition, a call was addressed by the congregation to Mr. Scott to become its pastor.  Mr. and Mrs. Scott returned to Scotland at the end of August, and on 4th October Mr. Scott declared his acceptance of the call to the Chesley Congregation
Obituary of Mr. Daniel Clarke, Missionary, of Egmondville, Ontario 1918
When sixteen years of age, he removed with his parents to Oxford County, Ontario.  Many godly persons settled in the part where now he found his home.  Gospel privileges had not been left behind.  Yet the memory of the Sutherland clearances burned itself into his mind, and he was as one who left behind a home he loved.
Synod’s Statement in Reference to Church-going by Public Conveniences on the Sabbath 1928
Suffice it to say, and surely all loyal Free Presbyterians, at least, will say with us, that it would be a great mercy indeed if the travelling public, including church-goers, of Britain, of America, of the world would consent to do all their travelling by public conveyances on week days, and by abstaining on the Sabbath, would thus set free from the trammels of unlawful labour and from the snare of filthy lucre hundreds, thousands, perhaps millions, all told, of their unfortunate brethren to possess the privileges and enjoy the rest of that one day in seven, which, for all alike, the law of nature demands and the law of God provides, and to this extent, at least, deter them from ruining their souls for eternity.
Communications from Canada in Reference to Church going by Public Conveyances on the Sabbath 1928
The finding which called forth the communications is as follows: – “The Synod express strong disapproval of the conduct of the Rev. William Matheson, Chesley, Ontario, inasmuch as he admitted to the Lord’s Table and Baptism at Winnipeg parties debarred by findings of this Synod anent Sabbath observance, and also, of the lax and modern views revealed in correspondence with him about this matter; and, while the Synod refrain from taking further steps as to his conduct in the matter referred to, they warn him and all concerned that the findings of the Synod must be honoured.” 
Obituary of Mrs. C. Munro, Toronto, Ontario 1958
As a child she was baptized by the saintly, faithful, and justly-renowned Rev. Dr. Kennedy of Dingwall. As her home was some miles from church, it was not considered advisable to make her walk all that distance, till she was about six years of age. The preacher on that, to her, memorable occasion, was the above-named Dr. Kennedy, and on her return home, she amazed her mother by asking for the true spiritual meaning of the words : “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom,” that being the subject of Dr. Kennedy’s discourse. The deep ineradicable impression made on her mind by that discourse, and the beautifully solemn and heavenly aspect, characteristic of this renowned and powerful preacher’s countenance, remained with her all her days, and she referred to that event, with ardent gratitude, even in the ninety-fourth year of her age. This interesting incident, with its subsequent fruit in true piety over a long period of years, emphasises the importance of taking children to church as early in life as possible. The regular family pew, under a faithful ministry, is an unrivalled institution for moulding character.
Visit of Rev. Donald Campbell to Ontario 1974
Encouraged by the Lord’s people both in Toronto and Chesley, I decided to draw up a list of proposals for the integration of the two Churches and circulated these among the members of the Presbyterian Reformed Church Presbytery
Visit of Rev. John Nicholson to Ontario 1974
In the good Providence of the Lord we arrived at Toronto on 2nd May where we found a most warm welcome waiting us from Mr. and Mrs. James Fraser and daughter Caroline.
Visit of Rev. J.A. Macdonald to Ontario 1974
Since my first report, I was endeavouring to supply Toronto and Chesley for two months, before returning to my native land. Needless to say this was the most pleasant duty ever incumbent upon me, to preach the everlasting Gospel to a people who know and appreciate our firm stand for the truth, and have now become one with us, since they were unanimously received into the Church at the last meeting of Synod in Inverness.
Visit of Rev. Donald Maclean to Ontario 1990
I have no doubt the Free Presbyterian Church has a good foothold in Canada. May the promise be fulfilled to them: “A little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation: I the Lord will hasten it in His time” (Isaiah 60:22).
Visit of Rev. John Macleod to Ontario 1992
The congregational meeting for the purpose of counting the number of votes which were cast for each of the men eligible for election was duly held and it was found that only one man – David Kuiper – had received sufficient votes. He indicated his willingness to accept office and the ordination was duly carried out on Wednesday, 15th July.
Visit of Rev. K.D. Macleod to Chesley 1995
Canada as much as Scotland needs the unique witness of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland.
Visit of Rev. Roderick Macleod to Chesley 1996
There are in Ontario some, perhaps many people, who are very dissatisfied with the doctrine and practice of the so-called Reformed Churches. One cannot but think that if the position of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland was better known, there would be a considerable amount of interest in it.
Visit of Rev K. M. Watkins to Chesley 1997
Travelling through just a tiny part of the vastness that is the land of Canada, it is remarkable that the Lord should have so favoured the small rural town of Chesley with Gospel ordinances in their scriptural purity, as they are maintained still in the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland.
Visit of Rev. Angus Smith to Chesley 2000
We stayed in the manse at Chesley. The town has a population of just under 2,000 and no public transport. It was originally called Sconeville, after the Scone in Scotland where Robert the Bruce was crowned. Another area beside it also used the name Scone and so to avoid confusion the Post Office began using the name Chesley for this town, after the name of a Post Office official. It was built on 200 acres owned by a Scot called Elliot and the cemetery names indicate that it was full of Scots in its early days.
Visit of Rev. Roderick Macleod to Chesley 2004
This was my third visit to this small town, which has built up around the banks of the North Saugeen River. Deep as it might be in the vastness of Canada, it is a very attractive and drawing place to those who have pleasant memories of Gospel ordinances there.
Visit of Rev. Donald Macdonald to Chesley 2007
As we approached the communion season, on the second weekend of my stay, there was a renewed sense of loss in the congregation at the passing away of their esteemed elder, Mr. Gerrit Schuit, last December. His death has left a great blank among them but we believe their loss is his gain.
Report of Deputy to Canada 2008
The numbers are between 30 and 40 each Sabbath. A large proportion of the congregation attends the prayer meetings. There are 5 young families. Since I was last there in 2004, several new faces have appeared. One family, which has recently moved from Holland, seems attracted to the congregation. The family of the late Mr. Stephen Smith are in Chesley for as long as the immigration authorities will allow them.
Report of Deputy to Chesley 2016
There are nineteen communicants on the communion roll. The total communicants and adherents of the Chesley congregation is fifty-four. The usual number in attendance on the Sabbath is between forty and forty-five. There will be over thirty people as a rule at the prayer meeting. Nine persons associated with the congregation live at such a distance that they cannot always be present. A sizeable proportion of the congregation is under forty years of age.