Discover our past

The following excerpts, from Sunday bulletins of yore, have been compiled by R.E. Halstead in honour of the 100 years of the Westminster Church building. Roy’s archive-spelunking is ongoing, so return to this page often.

[tab: Beginnings]

Where Did We Come from?
The Back-Story

Early Winnipeg/Manitoba history suggests that the dominant Christian background of European settlers was Roman Catholic (French influence), Presbyterian (Scottish-Selkirk Settlers influence) and Anglican (English influence)—dominant, but not exclusive. For our purposes we concentrate on the Presbyterian influence in the Red River settlement and how it became the congregation of Westminster Church.

1812 marks the beginning of Scottish (and Irish) settlement in what was called Assiniboia and later became Winnipeg. For an interesting account of this period of turmoil, idealism and determination (1811 to 1821), read the short article on The Lord Selkirk Association webpage, a story of Miles MacDonell, Cuthbert Grant, Chief Peguis, the Seven Oaks Massacre and Thomas Douglas himself, Lord Selkirk.

This is the story of a land the Hudson’s Bay Company thought they owned, of the challenge to that ownership by the Northwest Company, and of the natives and their Metis brethren who were pushed aside as the Europeans quarreled over their owneconomic interests. The land, Winnipeg, became our inheritance from both theEuropeans and the native peoples who, in the spirit of brotherhood helped those early settlers to survive and prosper!

The Early Presbyterian Presence in Winnipeg

In 1873, Winnipeg Presbytery decided to divide the overgrown congregation of Knox Presbyterian Church into two parts.

Scottish settlers had indeed prospered in the intervening 50 years; their church had grown to overflowing. The Winnipeg Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church decided to split the congregation in two, one half intended to serve the north area and the other the south area of the growing city whose population at the time was 30,000.

Notre Dame Avenue was the dividing line. To the congregation north of it Presbytery gave the name St. Andrews, while the remaining congregation south of Notre Dame retained the name Knox Church.The St. Andrews congregation held their organizational meeting in the City Hall and Court House in 1881 having already hired Rev. Dr. C.B. Pitblado as their minister. Their first church building was located at Logan and Machray (called Selkirk Hall.) By 1894 they had outgrown that building and relocated at Logan and Ellen.

By 1915 the St. Andrew’s congregation had, again, out-grown its building and as a result they established a satellite congregation in the River Heights area of the expanding city. Till 1925 (church union) they continued as one congregation in two church homes. Then in 1926 The United Church declared them two separate churches, St. Andrews Elgin and St. Andrews River Heights (reference).

Westminster Presbyterian Church Begins

By 1892 another 18 member group of the St. Andrews congregation had met to discuss the formation of a new congregation to serve the central area of the city. They obtained permission from Presbytery to establish and build their first church at the corner of Notre Dame and Charlotte (later Hargrave.) Their first minister was a member of the Manitoba College Staff, Rev. Prof. A. E. Baird. (Manitoba College, a Presbyterian theological school had opened in 1871 on Ellis Ave.) This new Notre Dame and Charlotte congregation then issued a call to Dr. Pitblado to be their first full-time minster. Pitblado had been the minister of St.
Andrews from 1881 to 1889. He had also served as Chaplin to the Canadian soldiers fighting the Riel Rebellion. By 1889 he had moved to California where he had a large church and enjoyed a warmer climate. He welcomed the call, however, and returned in 1892 serving the newly named Westminster congregation till 1904 when he stepped down for health reasons and returned to California. The Rev. Clarence MacKinnon, from Nova Scotia, became the congregation’s new minster. The population of Winnipeg had grown by then to 67,000.

During MacKinnon’s four years at Westminster he established a Young Men’s Club in 1905. Set up for ‘literary and athletic activities’ the club fielded football, tennis and baseball teams whose games attracted crowds of up to 2,000.

In 1909 Rev. MacKinnon left Westminster to take up the post of Principal of Pine Hill Divinity College in Nova Scotia and was replaced by Rev. David Christie. Winnipeg’s population had, by then, grown to 132,000 and Westminster’s congregation had tripled. They needed a new and larger church building.

1912: We Move To Maryland and Buell

The Sisters of the Misericordia had purchased land at the corner of Sherbrook Street and Ida (later Wolsley) and had built the Winnipeg Maternity Hospital which was completed in 1900. The City of Winnipeg was building an elementary school, Laura Secord, at Ruby and Ida which was completed 1912.The Anglicans were erecting St Margaret’s Church at Buell and Ethelbert. It, too, was completed 1912. The west end of Winnipeg along the Assiniboine River was filling in rapidly with new homes and apartment blocks as well.

In 1909 the Westminster congregation had already established a satellite Sabbath School at 69 Furby. The time was ripe for a full Presbyterian presence in the new area. Construction started on the building in 1910. Governor Earl Gray laid the corner stone and Westminster Church, too, was completed in 1912. The twin-towered, stone building was the most commanding structure in the community.



On January 22nd Rev. Huband conducted our second annual Robert Burns Service (Burns’s birthday is January 25th). Hymns based on Burns’s paraphrases of the psalms were sung and the lesson was read from the Braid Scots Bible. There is no record as to how well the congregation understood ‘braid’ (broad) Scottish dialect! Nevertheless, 25 years after church union, Westminster Church was still predominantly a Scottish Presbyterian congregation.

Rev. Huband was forever keen to introduce drama into his services. Easter Sunday was drama time with a morning musical drama The Old Roman Soldier presented for the children and an evening Easter drama The Gift That was never Used focusing on what became of the Wise Men’s gifts was presented.

We always looked forward to his Grey Cup Sunday sermons (Allen would arrive, football in hand) and we fantasized that some Christmas he would actually have angels coming down from the ceiling of the sanctuary! We didn’t know how Allen would achieve this but we felt sure he would find a way. (Other dramas that year, written by him, were a Harvest Home Festival Pageant and The Mystery of Christmas presented at an Old Tyme Festival of Christmas on December 17th). Rev. Huband also focused on political issues. What would Government Lotteries mean in Canada? was the third sermon in a series of ‘Moral Issues Confronting Canadians.’

In June the Sunday Bulletin included an ‘In Memoriam’ to Dr. Herbert Riggs of Vancouver who founded the AOTS in 1922. ‘As One That Serves’ was a men’s group organization active in Westminster as well as in other United churches. At Westminster they held an annual Laymen’s Service every November. Later in June we received a letter from Park Lane Methodist Church in Wembly U.K. with $22 enclosed. The funds had been collected to help Westminster people who had suffered hardship due to the 1950 Flood. The occasion was a recital given in their U.K. church by Myfanwy Evens (a well known Westminster soloist who was visiting England at the time).

1950 was a year of renovations to the building. These included Ladies Parlor modifications (now the Chapel), a kitchen, nursery and kindergarten room in the basement, new ceiling and lighting in the Sanctuary, and the Concert Hall (on the second floor) equipped with a modern stage and auxiliary kitchen.


On February 14th Westminster held its 15th Annual American Night service, “a gesture of goodwill towards our American neighbours and a means of calling attention to the happy understanding that exists between Canada and the United States.” In attendance were the American Consul General, Manitoba’s Premier and Winnipeg’s Mayor. A church service to celebrate a political ideal!

March 18th — Palm Sunday: Rev. Huband wrote new lyrics for the ‘negro spiritual’ Were You There?. Baritone/bass Ed Forrest sang the song at the evening service.

May 6th — The dedication of the new Memorial Window (on the south wall of the sanctuary — King David with his harp in his dual role of King and Psalmist). The inscription on the window is in memory of choir members who, “having faithfully sung His praises here, have passed to the celestial choir above.” The window was a gift from the Choir.

October 7th — Dedication service following renovations to the chancel (the new choir loft). Organist and choir leader, Herb Sadler, mourned the loss of the pillars supporting the outer clusters of pipes on the organ (and made rude remarks about the hemispheres replacing them!).

November 11th — We celebrated the unveiling of the Dr. David Christie memorial window (on the north wall of the sanctuary). Dr. Christie was minister of Westminster at the time of church union (1925). The window was said to depict Holman Hunt’s 1854 painting The Light of the World. In fact, the window is a 20th century imitation of Hunt’s work: an allegory of Christ knocking at the door of the human soul. The window, in stained glass, succeeds in making as powerful a statement of Hunt’s concept as the original. The designer of the window was an unknown employee of the company.


February 6th — We held a service to mourn the passing of King George 6th.

April 13th (Easter Sunday) — An Easter pageant Disciples within the Year written by Dr. Victor Leathers was presented. Dr. Leathers was professor of French at United College and a long time member, with his wife, Beatrice and family, of Westminster.

June 1st (Shut-in Sunday) — (Every Sunday a group of AOTS men under the leadership of Keith Waddington went to the Municipal Hospitals where they assisted wheel-chair patients attend their own church service in the hospital chapel.) This activity was carried on for a number of years. This June 1st was also church parade Sunday for our cubs and scouts and their leaders. (Church Parade was an annual event at that time.)

October 12th — We celebrated the Diamond Jubilee of the Congregation. On October 19th an Anniversary dinner was served. So many attended the event that people had to be served on all three floors of the building. On October 26th the celebrations were concluded at a service where Dr. Bonnell preached the sermon. Dr. Bonnell had been our minister 1929 to 1935. The story is told that so many people would attend his services that the overflow had to be accommodated in the Tivoli Theater across the street. The story is only partly true and had nothing to do with Dr.Bonnell. Special meetings were held in Westminster, sponsored by outside organizations on two occasions necessitating the use of the Tivoli to handle crowds of about 3000 people. Bonnell’s services did however attract large numbers of people — more than the sanctuary could hold. The overflow would be accommodated in the present lecture hall and/or the present basement gym. Dr. Bonnell went on to be minister of Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York.

December 21st — At the family Christmas service a pageant was presented by the older members of the Sunday School under the direction of Sunday School Superintendent, Mrs. Freeman. (Her daughter, Lois, went on to be the Moderator of The United Church of Canada.)

In 1952 the roster of church choir soloists included Myfanwy Evens, Helen Tennent, Jean Ramsay and Paul Fredette.


February 1st — Bill Norrie, President of the University of Manitoba Students Union and Rhodes Scholar elect spoke (after the service) on the University Christian Mission. The Norrie family were members of Westminster. Margaret Norrie (Bill’s sister) was our Alto soloist. Bill went on to be Mayor of Winnipeg.

The 50/50 Club Study for the focuseds on the problems of homemakers. One wonders which problems they dealt with in this inexhaustible area of concern!

February 8th — The 17th American Night Service saluted the inauguration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Prayers were offered for divine guidance for him and his government.

March 29th — During the service special tribute was paid to the dowager Queen Mary of Teck (Mother of George 6th) who had died on March 24th.

April 12th — Sunday School & Youth Groups presented their gifts to the African Fund — $250 forwarded to Dr. Collins of Angola for purchase & shipment of a portable organ, record player, & several View Masters and films for the work in the Leper Colony at Camundongo, Angola. The colony, established in the 1930s by Nova Scotian Dr. William Gilchrist, was supported by the Board of Overseas Missions of the United Church of Canada.

May 24th — The Annual Church Parade of the Winnipeg Police Force was held at Westminster.

May 31st — A service was held commemorating the coronation of Queen Elizabeth The 2nd. (The coronation, on June 2nd, was held more than a year after her accession; this followed the tradition that a festival such as a coronation was inappropriate during the period of mourning that followed the death of the preceding sovereign.) A further service was held that evening at Grace United Church on Ellice Ave. in downtown Winnipeg. Members of Westminster Choir joined the massed choir for that service.

October 25th (Reformation Sunday)Be Glad That You Are A Protestant was the sermon title at the evening service — undoubtedly directed at the church’s young people.

The picture shows (sic) the door of the Schlosskirche (castle church) in Wittenberg to which Luther is said to have nailed his 95 Theses on the 31st of October 1517, sparking the Reformation.


April — The Westminster Men’s Senior Basketball Team won the title in the United Church Senior Athletic League. The Junior and Bantam teams both reached the City finals. We were more than a place of worship. Our teams will have practiced in the Church’s basement gymnasium where basketball hoops were installed at either end.

May 2nd — Preacher Rev. A. S. McGrath of the ‘Lord’s Day Alliance’ (formed by the Presbyterian Church in 1888 to combat increasing Sabbath secularization)called attention to new Sunday leisure pursuits such as sporting events, ice cream parlours and theaters which were tempting people away from church attendance. Winnipeg’s premier ice cream parlour at the time was Dell’s on Portage Avenue. And yes, it was tempting! (The Lord’s Day Act became law in March, 1907. However, because it required provincial authorization in each province, it has never been uniformly enforced across the country.)

June 20th — 28 new members joined the congregation of which 26 were from the immediate neighborhood. In 1954 Westminster was still a ‘neighborhood’ church. Although it was attracting people from many different points in the city it was not yet a ‘downtown’ church. Nevertheless, while we still needed two services on Easter Sunday mornings (and an evening service as well) the overall numbers were showing signs of decline. Special note: Because the Choir had to sit through two identical services on Easter Sundays, the church provided them with hot cross buns and coffee in between as a consolation!

October 17 (Layman’s Sunday) — An annual event at that time. Members of the laity would have given the Bible readings and preached the sermon. At the time the idea of the laity giving the Bible readings regularly was not yet established. Those reading were considered the Preacher’s job. Another special note: A further practice was in place where women and youth were not allowed to serve communion. That was a man’s job!

Dateline 1955

January 23rd — The Annual Burns Night was still a featured event. The guest soloist that year was Kerr Wilson, a prominent Winnipeg baritone.

February 6th — Premier and Mrs. Douglas Campbell (Sonya Wright’s parents) and Mayor and Mrs. George Sharpe attended the 19th Annual American Night. The speaker was Rabbi Milton Aron of Shaarey Zedec Synagogue.

March 6th — The Church Session sent a letter to the Attorney General of Manitoba opposing the opening of the way for Commercial sport events on Sundays. The question was before the Provincial Legislature.

April — The congregation was asked several times that year to donate clothing to Korea. Crown Cleaners on Academy Road volunteered to wash/clean the donations for free.

April 10th — Organist and Choir Director Herb Sadler was in hospital. He died on May 1st (of lung cancer). His service to Westminster spanned the years 1919 to 1955. An ‘In memoriam’ noted that the Choir Window and the newly dedicated organ consul were to be reminders of his service. A brass plaque on the north wall of the Sanctuary records his service. Choir practices in Herb’s day included a mid-practice 15-minute break when Herb and the men went to the men’s washroom in the basement for a “spit and a puff.” We would be a long time learning how deadly that pleasant practice was.

June 11th (Saturday) — The annual Sunday School Picnic was held in Assiniboine Park rather than the usual grounds of Balmoral Hall (they had construction going on). The men of the AOTS organized the races and other activities.

June 19th — Rev. Allen Huband’s Farewell Service (1948 to 1955). The Hubands (Allen, Mildred, Rolph, Charles, Mary and Don) lived in the manse next door to the church at 120 Maryland. The notion of multi-bedroomed church manses, usually in the care of a special Ladies’ Committee of the church, was already on its way out. Ours was eventually torn down to be replaced by the present day office building which we own and rent out as an additional source of revenue. Where do our ministers live now? We give them a housing allowance and they can settle where they will and build up equity in their own homes. The Hubands moved to Toronto where Allen continued his preaching.

The Sunday bulletin noted the appointment of Allen Borbridge as Herb Sadler’s replacement. Allen had been a pupil of Herb’s.

September 11th — Rev. Nelson Mercer began his ministry.

October 10th — The presentation of Handel’s Messiah at Winnipeg’s new Arena was arranged by the Men’s Musical Club. A chorus of 600 was drawn from 60 church choirs for the event.


Our ministers were Reverend Nelson Mercer and Dr. William Grant; Jean Ramsey, soprano soloist became Norma Lewicki; Nina Biniowski stayed on as Alto soloist; George Robson, Tenor soloist became Ted Alford; Doug Summerville stayed on as Baritone soloist. This was Mrs. Canning’s last year as long tenured Office Secretary. She would be replaced in 1957 by Mrs. Ridd. Our revered sexton (caretaker) was Mr. Flipse, who, with his wife, lived in the suite at the top of the annex building (Now empty space).

April — The month for the Sunday School’s annual celebration of students who had completed the memory courses. In the group of successful students were Ann Bennet (now Peeler), Keith Love and his cousin Mary Reid, and Claire Leathers (whose mother was the school’s superintendent, and whose father was Dr. Leathers of United College fame who also prepared our communion wine cups and bits of bread for each Communion service (and had for many years)).

June 24th — Dr. Grant’s last Sunday as our assistant minister.

September — Ernest Nix became our Assistant Minister — and Nina Biniowski married Graham VanderLinden (also of the choir). Thankfully Nina decided not to hyphenate her last name. The issue of the day was ‘The Bracken Report on New liquor Outlets.’ A paper appeared in our pews entitles The Bracken Report and Your Vote. (Ominous!) The post- World War II period of change (relaxing the Sunday Blue Laws, the opening of further access to liquor and the advent of TV service, for examples) caused us some anxiety at the time. But it was only the prelude to the next half of that century where change washed over us in waves and became the norm of our lives. And there was no turning back.

50th Anniversary of the Boy Scout Movement

January 22nd — Annual Meeting followed by a congregational dinner; charge: $1 per plate. That Sunday Rev. Mercer preached on the topic ‘Are our Blue Laws outdated?’

February — AOTS Meeting; included a panel discussion on Sunday Sport.

April 19th — Good Friday Service held at Young Church with Westminster congregation as visitors. This arrangement went back and forth every year, a long standing policy. The church budget showed a serious short fall of funds. A call went out to the congregation to increase their giving. By April 14 only 8% responded. By April 28 14% of the congregation had responded. This must have solved the immediate problem as there were no further calls for financial help. By October in order to further deal with the financial ‘situation’ the Official Board agreed to engage the services of The Wells Church Fundraising organization to help us improve our stewardship performance. This did not meet with the approval of everyone in the
congregation. Nevertheless we gave the plan a try.

May 5th — The session reported to the congregation its decision on what to do with the Manse. No further information was given in the Sunday bulletins but by September we had purchased 141 Waterloo Street as the new manse. Now the old manse could come down and an office building replaced it.

September 15th — Glen Harrison (Choir Director) and Barry Anderson (Organist) began their service at Westminster. The Winnipeg Presbytery Radio Committee asked Westminster to broadcast our services over the CBC on the 1st and 3rd Sunday of each month. St. Andrew’s River Heights was asked to do likewise on the 2nd and 4th Sundays of each month. Our Sunday services had to be re-organized to fit the one hour slot the CBC provided. The minister, of course, had to keep a tight rein on the length of his sermon! This met with the approval of everyone in the congregation.


June 29th — Ernest Nix preached his farewell sermon as Assistant Minister. Rev. Nix then headed for Calgary for his next posting.

October 29th — It was recommended to the congregation that a call be made to Donald Keating to become our new Assistant Minister. Reverend Keating started his ministry on November 13th. Don came to be known as a bit of an innovator. For example he encouraged members of the congregation to gather friends and neighbors in their home. where he would then take the communion elements with him and conduct the service in their living rooms.

The concept of the Church meeting people where they lived their lives was regarded by Westminster at the time as cutting edge.

A Note on assistant ministers: from 1892 to 1958 our assistants were Gerald Rogers, John Walker, Cam Wadsworth, Arthur Smith, Douglas McIntosh, David Flemming, Elliot Bolton, Kenneth Cleater, William Grant, Reid Vipond, James Taylor, Norman Quigley and Ernest Nix, Donald Keating.


January — We formed our third cub pack. This program of service to young people in the Wolseley area was proving so successful that on November 9th we were able to form our first Scout troop. The leaders at that time were Harry Meiklejohn and Donald Davis. Rev. Keating was conducting the program Morning Devotions on CBC Radio.

February — It was noted that Bert MacFarlane (known as R.D.) was publishing a church newsletter. R.D. was the father of Marilyn (Huband). The writer of this piece fondly remembers one of his first tastes of fine Scotch whiskey courtesy of R.D. That memorable moment took place after hours at the Annual United Church Men’s Laity Conference at Minaki Lodge. Each year in the spring men in the Winnipeg Presbytery would gather for a weekend of fellowship, discussions of church/community issues of the day, sing-a-longs and a Sunday morning worship service.

David Swan became Superintendent of the Sunday School. David grew up in Westminster and is still a member of the congregation.

March — Good Friday morning service was conducted at Young Church. In the evening, Westminster Choir presented Brahms’s A German Requiem at Westminster. (The ‘German’ in the title was Brahms’s way of showing his veneration of the work of his German predecessors, Bach, Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, and the way their work influenced his own compositions.)

June — Sunday School promotions were held. 94 students were honored in the ceremony.

September 27th — Canada Safeway (the store across the street) gave Westminster permission to use their parking lot for the first time.

October — People were being encouraged to purchase subscriptions to The United Church Observer at the price of $2.

November 22nd — The CJOB radio program Come To Church (9:30 to 10:30) was conducted that morning by Rev. Mercer.

December 20th — As part of our Christmas celebrations the choir presented Saint-Saëns’s Christmas Oratorio. The soloists were Norma Lewicki, Betty McLeod, Dorothy Howard, Bruce Linney and Doug Somerville. Two major works for the choir in one year! Mr. Harrison was showing he really meant business as our new Director.



January 5th — Over the Christmas holidays the young people of the church drove seniors around the city to see the lights. They also assisted with recreation at the Manitoba Home for girls.

March — Mrs. J.E. Ridd resigned as office secretary after 10 years of service. She was replaced by Mrs. Burt. On March 22nd the choir presented Vivaldi’s Gloria with soloists Phyllis Thompson, Dorothy Howard, Bruce Linney and Ted Marshall. Our services during March were being broadcast over station CFMW-FM

April — The United Church’s new Sunday School curriculum was announced. By September we held an after-evening service discussion on the topic ‘What’s the fuss about the new curriculum?’ The underlining topic really was ‘What was wrong with the old curriculum?’ A further erosion of tradition.

Another hot topic for discussion by Westminster people in 1964 was Religion in the Schools. The writer, as classroom teacher, was required to start the day with his class with roll-call, followed by a bible reading, followed by the class reciting the Lord’s Prayer and singing Oh, Canada. No students were excepted from these activities. No teachers excepted either!

In September Phyllis Thompson resigned as soprano soloist and was replaced by Norma Vadeboncoeur. Ernest Marshall Howes (Westminster’s minister from 1936 to ‘48) was elected Moderator of the United Church of Canada, the first of two Westminster people to assume that post (Lois Freeman was the other.)

November 15th — The choir presented Vivaldi’s Gloria again for people who had missed it March 22!

December 20th — Our first presentation of Amahl and the Night Visitors. Reid Harrison was Amahl, Dorothy Howard his mother. Others in the cast were Ted Marshall, Bruce Linney, Roy Halstead and Keith Love. Costumes for the production came from the large collection in Dr. Leather’s basement. That collection was called on many times to outfit amateur acting groups in the City. We didn’t mind that the costumes were often held together with string and safety pins.


January 10th — We dedicated the New Church House (120 Maryland), a replacement for our old manse next door. ‘120′ became the headquarters for The Manitoba and North-Western Ontario Conference of the United Church, and also became a source of revenue for our congregation. The architect was N. Russell.

During the January Annual General Meeting of the congregation we noted that there was a membership of 1377 people. The UCW had 19 units active in Westminster with a membership of 392 women. The church’s revenue the preceding year was $96,008.

February 23rd — The national Canadian Girls in Training (CGIT) organization celebrated its 50th Anniversary.

April 25th — A public meeting was held at United College (now University of Winnipeg) todiscuss the proposed union of the United and Anglican churches. In 1971 a new hymnbook was published called The Hymn Book of the Anglican Church of Canada and The United Church of Canada. It became known as the ‘Red Hymn Book.’ The union, ofcourse, never took place. But the hymn book was in use until 1996 when Voices United was published.

During the year the traditional Father and Son dinner was held at Westminster. it was followed, for the first time, by a Mothers and Daughters dinner. Another tradition challenged!

September 1st — Westminster’s Outreach Committee initiated a Lunch and After School program. The clients were children from grades 1 to 3, of working single mother’s in the community around the church. A hot lunch and an after-school snack were provided. In charge of the operation were members of the congregation — Mr Justice Jimmy Wilson, Bob Peeler, and Tom Smith. Trudy Perkins became the Director. It was operated only during the school year (excluding Christmas and Easter vacation times.)The program ran till the passing of the Daycare Act of 1986. Like any healthy child and with a nudge from Government it grew up and became independent. Spiritually it is still part of us. Physically, it is now part of the life of our building all year round. The present director of the program is Greg Blanco.

December 5th — A Hammond Organ for use in the chapel was donated by the Harris and McInnis families in memory of Donald Clare McGinnis.

December 12thAmahl and the Night Visitors was produced again. Same cast, same costumes. New safety pins.


January — The Sunshine Club (for seniors 75 to 90) was meeting weekly. Also on Sundays at 12:30 Channel 7 (CJAY-TV) presented a weekly program, Sundayscope, which was produced by the TV Committee of the United Church of Canada. Program topics that year included Ferment in The Church Today, The Meaning of Life and The New Morality. The AGM reported membership steady at 1377 (with 73 new members joining in 1965)

March 13th — Doris Marshall, Director of Christian Education, resigned. She was moving to Toronto to our head office. Her replacement, Susan Cawley was appointed in June and started her work in September.

June 5th — Six large cartons of clothing were shipped to Korea. The Sewing Group had prepared the goods for shipment.

September — Barry Anderson, organist, left us at the end of the summer to take up his new duties at Knox United. Myra Davidson acted as pro-tem organist until Don Menzies was able to assume his appointment on October 2nd.

October 16th — The proposed union between the Anglicans and ourselves was still a topic of discussion that evening after service. Thirty people joined the congregation that Sunday. It was noted that the AOTS was still publishing a Westminster newsletter under editor, Bert MacFarlane.


January 22nd — A new Carillon was installed, a gift of the Crowe family; a replacement for the 1946 version.

January 29th — The AGM reported that membership in the congregation had dropped to 1273. Our income was up to $97,804 and the balance still owing on our mortgage was $18,212.

February — Two particular deaths were noted, Gilbert Harrison (Glen’s father) a long timmember of Greenwood United Church and Jean Babb, a long serving member of our choir.

March 19th — A joint presentation of Mozart’s Requiem was given by the choirs of Young and Westminster churches that evening.

April 30th — Soloist Dorothy Howard left Westminster to move to Minneapolis where husband, Ken, was taking his PhD degree. Dorothy was then replaced by Elona Schellenberg as alto soloist on May 21st. The sum of $8000 had been collected toward the refurbishment of the chapel. We still needed another $5000.

September 2nd — Director of Christian Education, Susan Cawley married Harold Atwell.

October — We celebrated the 75th Anniversary of Westminster Church. Former ministers, Allen Huband, Nelson Mercer and Ernest Marshall Howes were invited to preach duringthe month. Mercer had to decline as his wife was seriously ill so Rev. Gerald Rogers, our 1st Assistant Minister took his place. Tickets for the Anniversary dinner were $1.50 a piece. On October 21st world-famous organist E. Power Biggs presented a recital.


January 1st — The Evangelical United Brethren Church united with the United Church of Canada. The EUB was an American Protestant Church formed in 1946 comprised of two other denominations which had been toying with the idea of union since the early 19th century! In their branch in Canada their particular emphasis on holiness, evangelism and German heritage aroused some interest in Mennonite groups in Ontario. The American EUB subsequently merged with The Methodist Church in 1968. The EUB congregations in Canada joined the United Church of Canada. Those congregations in Western Canada that didn’t want to join us formed The Evangelical Church of Canada which later morphed into the Evangelical Missionary Church of Canada in 1993. Keeping their letterhead current after every merger must have been a nightmare. Our AGM in January reported that membership was down slightly to 1256 and the UCW had 13 active units with a membership of 350.

February 29th — We participated in a choral festival at St. Stevens Broadway Church under the direction of Filmer Hubble. The next year the Canadian College of Organists sponsored the same event at Westminster with 300 singers participating.

March 17th — Construction began on our Memorial Chapel (formerly known as the Ladies Parlor.) Today we call it simply ‘The Chapel.’

March 31st — 10 scouts received the Queen’s Scout Award. Scout leaders at the time were Jim Leithead and R.E. Bettner.

April 28th — Jim Leithead was appointed Clerk of Session (the 5th person to hold that position in our history). Glenys Hughes was appointed our Christian Education Director. We had moved away from Assistant Ministers to job-defined positions. Rev, Mac MacIvor (Associate Minister) left Westminster to become Chaplain at Deer Lodge Hospital.

May — By Special Act of the Provincial Legislature the fund now known as The Westminster Foundation was created “for the purpose of administering money and other property given to Westminster United Church, with a view to defraying capital and unusual expenses, and of ensuring in perpetuity the work of the church.”

September 1st — Rev J.C. Matheison (retired) became our Associate Minister. Rev. Matheison had been a missionary in China and later a teacher at United College.

October 6th — Mary Ann Taylor replaced Norma Vadeboncoeur as our Soprano soloist.

Special Note for the year: The General Council of The United Church completed preparation of The New Creed for our churches.


In April Westminster and Oxford Street choirs joined forces to present Benjamin Britten’s Rejoice In The Lamb. Why join with Oxford? Margaret Harrison was the choir leader there. By the summer our congregation number was reduced to 1185 (775 families). The Anglican and United Churches decided to unite — in the production of a joint church calendar for 1970. Optimists were saying “Each small step is important.”



January 14th — Marilyn Huband reports to the Church Board on the recommendations of the Church Reorganization Committee. The Board agrees to put the reorganization plan to the congregation at the AGM on January 28. The report recommends the formation of a new General Board with nine committees to replace the UCW, the Stewards, and the
Session (the Elders).

January 25th — The announcement was made that The General Commission on Anglican/United Church union would meet in Winnipeg from February 7 to 11.

January 28th — At the AGM, with 125 members of the congregation present, the report on ‘Reorganization’ was unanimously accepted. Among other things, this decision was to make possible the wider (and important) participation of women in the life and decision making of the Westminster congregation. Women would now stand beside men in the serving of the Communion elements. Women would become members and chairs of the nine committees and women would hold the position of Chair of the Board. Henceforth, in the spirit of the new organization, women would also serve as Diaconal Ministers of the church. New and interesting possibilities were now possible.

March 15th — The new Board nominations were announced: Board Chair-Aiden Conklin, Vice Chair-Marilyn Huband, Secretary-Keith Waddington, Treasurer-Douglas Arnott. Committee Chairs: Worship- Lawrence Bennett, Finance-Ray Vidlar, Property-Clare Brunton, Communications- Roy Halstead, Outreach-Isabelle Auld, Education-Barry McConnell, Fellowship-L.D. Robinson, Membership and Visiting- James Leithead, Nominating- Robert Jeske,

March 31st — Glenys Hughes resigned as Christian Education Director. She was marrying Rev. Harry Oussoren and moving to Eastern Canada.

April 12th — The General Board was sworn in. Its first meeting was held the next evening.

April 21st —The new Board of Directors of the Westminster Foundation met for the first time, Mr. Justice James Wilson as Chair.

April 26th — The Winnipeg Youth Orchestra and Westminster Choir presented Vivaldi’s Gloria and Britten’s Rejoice in The Lamb. 450 people attended the performance

May 25th — A study group met to discuss Anglican/ United Church union.

September 7th — Barbara Bryant was installed as our Christian Education Director.

October — Membership of the congregation was reported at 1102.

November 8th — Doug Arnott left Westminster after serving 12 years as Treasurer.


January 3rd — In ‘71 we were still broadcasting every Sunday service from CJOB-FM

February 7th — For the first time in Westminster’s history we combined a short service of worship and the Annual General Meeting into the Sunday morning time slot. People no longer wanted to come out for an extra meeting (the AGM).

February 8th — The Royal College of Organists held its annual choir festival at Knox Church with a massed choir of 300. Conductor Gerald Bales was brought in from Minneapolis to preside over the singing.

May 16th — A celebration of the 100th Anniversary of Manitoba College which joined Wesley College which became United College which became University of Winnipeg. The first institution was founded by Rev. George Bryce of The Presbyterian Church to train ministers. In 1883 the Faculty of Theology Building was opened on Ellice Avenue with Rev. John M. King as the Principal. Five years later The Methodist Church appointed Rev. J.W. Sparling as Principal of a new Arts Institution, Wesley College, which opened on the present Portage Avenue site of University of Winnipeg in 1896. During WWI the two colleges cooperated in a unique experiment as a united college. United College was then formally created in 1938. In 1967 United College received a charter from the Province which permitted it to become an independent university.

Out of all this we have two schools in the Winnipeg School Division, one named John M. King (built in 1905 probably near the Ellice of the original Theology Building) and the other, Principal Sparling (which celebrates its 100th Anniversary in May, 2012) plus the second largest public university in Manitoba with a Faculty of Theology. (As another interesting connection the Winnipeg School Division has a school, J.B. Mitchell, named after the architect who designed the original John M. King building, the Principal Sparling building and 37 of the other schools in Winnipeg. People may have noticed the similarity between some of these stately structures that still stand.)

May 30th — The Annual potluck supper for Westminster women was held. Excellent entertainment was supplied by the Halsteads and David and Dianna Waters.

June 25th — The Manitoba Provincial Women’s Christian Temperance Union held its 85th Annual Convention at Ft. Rouge United Church. (Nellie McClung was a life longmember of this group. The Union worked not only in the area of addiction but on avariety of social issues including women’s rights.)

August 29th — We held a reception to say good-bye to Rev. Mathieson and Barbara Bryant.

September 12th — Rev. Cecil Tiller (St. John New Brunswick) received a call to ministry at Westminster effective October 15th. His induction took place October 31st.

October 17th — ‘Tune In’ night — an evening in the sanctuary with the new Anglican / United Church Hymn book (the Red Hymn Book). Stanley Osborn, chair of the hymn book committee presided. The congregation purchased 210 of the books.

November 28th — We formed a Beaver Pack for boys 6 and 7 years old- a new program ofthe Boy Scouts of Canada.

December 24th — A Nativity play, The First Nowell, was the principle part of the Annual Christmas Eve service. Twenty children and young people of the congregation acted the parts while the choir and soloists Mary Ann Taylor, Elona Schellenberg, BruceLinney, Ted Marshall, Roy Halstead and David Waters presented the music. Costumes were by Dr. Leathers.