Courtright - Courtright Methodist and United Church

red brick church with tall square tower entrance

Courtright Wesleyan Methodist Church was established in 1872, and was responsible for the construction of the first church in Courtright. The United Church of Canada, which was formed by an act of Parliament in June of 1925, would join the Wesleyan Methodist Church of Canada and other Methodist, Congregational and Presbyterian Churches. After 1925 the church would be known as Courtright United Church.

 The first church, called The Tabernacle, was erected after the development of a small town at the terminus of the Canada Southern Railway, between Mooretown and Reynold’s Appointment, called Courtright.  The “tabernacle” was a 2 storey lap-sided building that measured 35 x 40 feet. In the following year, when the new church was constructed and opened, this simple frame building was moved to the third lot south of Thomspon Street on River Road.  It became known as Clinkman’s Hall and was used extensively by the community in the following years by groups such as The Red Cross, Masonic Lodge and Patriotic Society. It was demolished in 1957.

Bricks for the new church were delivered to the area by Mr. Fernando Wing, a trustee of the congregation.  He travelled across the frozen St. Clair River by sleigh.  A building bee was held and members of the community participated in the construction of the church.  Workers provided the labour with the understanding that all denominations would be welcome to worship in the new building.  Despite this agreement, the local Baptists had built another structure within the year after the schedule of Methodist morning services and Baptist afternoon services did not work out. 

The new church was opened in September of 1873, and services were held three times a day.  A large steeple was erected at the center of the church but fell due to high winds a short time later.  A square tower replaced this one.  A large pew section in the middle, comprised of rustic pine pews, was separated by an aisle on each side and two smaller sections against the walls.  New pews replaced these ones in 1928.  Various renovations were made in the following years including, adding an office and choir room, cement front steps, new doors, washrooms, and updating the kitchen.  These extensive renovations took place in 1959.  One significant change was in the incorporation of a pump organ into the chancel area.  The organ, built in the 1870s in the Guelph area, was of significant size and the back panel was incorporated into the wooden partition separating the choir loft from the chancel platform.

On Thursday, Sept. 29th 2005, a local man was seen leaving the church in the early morning.  Shortly after, smoke and fire were seen coming from the building and Courtright Firefighters were called.  Despite their quick response, the church could not be saved.  The man responsible was identified and has since moved to Corunna.  In response to this tragedy, the community rallied and focused their efforts on coming together to build a new place of worship. A third church for the congregation was planned and built in 2008.

David Gilchrist was the architect for the new church.  Considerable changes were made to accommodate more modern needs, such as parking.  Volunteers again assisted in the construction of the church. The pulpit, communion table and baptismal font were donated from Calvary United Church, which closed in June 2008.  Pews were donated from Kortright Presbyterian Church in Guelph. As of 2020, the church continues to hold services and community events.