Musical gathering

The Friends of Beaverdams Church were treated to a special performance by the Young at Heart Choir last Sunday.

Under the direction of Gina Armstrong and with piano accompaniment from Charlotte Cottage, the choir (including Heather Armstrong, Beverley Carley, Bud Cunningham, Barb Healey, Lorraine Hildebrandt, Boni Irwin, Peter Jackson, Barb Murphy-Coplen, John Nogas, Don Nicol, Brenda Tatrie, and Susan Tinnish) performed more than a dozen hymns. Among these were two solos and a duet performance by Lorraine Hildebrandt, Peter Jackson and Barb Murphy-Coplen. Check out the final and encore songs here.

Also: check out the video of “Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory” as well as “Dear Hearts and Gentle People” here. A great favourite of the Sunday School was “Shall We Gather at the River?”, performed in this version.

Not only has congregational hymn signing always been an important part of Methodism, but it was a tradition enthusiastically embraced and perpetuated at Beaverdams Church by the longstanding Sunday School. And, for this reason, it was a thrill to have Joan Armstrong part of the audience – indeed, she was given a special token of thanks by the choir for the 60 years she played piano at Sunday School meetings, events and performances. This was followed by Barb Murphy-Coplen’s solo performance of “Bless this House”.

Check out some photos!

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Thanks to everyone!

What a resounding success! The totals are just in, and we can proudly announce that the 3rd Annual Beaverdams Church Yard Sale brought in nearly $1000 more than last year. Of the nearly $3700, $900 came in donations – trebling that of last year!!!

Part of the success was undoubtedly due to the weather, which while cool was at least dry. As President Dave Cowan noted: “Imagine if we had held the event [on Sunday June 14] – we would have been washed out!”

Here are a selection of photos from the day:

(Photos courtesy of Sarah King Head, unless otherwise noted)

Thanks to everyone who donated their time and/or items to making the
3rd Annual Beaverdams Church sale such a success!


Next up:

• As a bit of change to our usual schedule, the monthly Friends meeting will be held at historic Beaverdams Church in Thorold on Wednesday June 24, 2015, at 7 p.m.

• The 3rd Annual Friends of Beaverdams Church Trivia Night on October 3. More details to come, but tickets will be available soon. Consider putting a table together for what is always a great evening! Donations to the silent auction table will be gratefully accepted. Please contact us at for more information. 

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“There’s a church in the valley …”

There’s a church in the valley by the wildwood
No lovelier place in the dale
No spot is so dear to my childhood
As the little brown church in the vale 
Oh come, come, come, come
Come to the church in the wildwood
Oh, come to the church in the dale
No spot is so dear to my childhood
As the little brown church in the dale.

Written by Dr William S. Pitts in 1857, this Introit to the 183rd Annual Dedication service at Beaverdams Church on Sunday June 7 was not only Esther Summers’ favourite hymn but was sung by the nearly 100 people who gathered inside the church for the first time in six years!

Rev George Addison was accompanied by Rick Young and the Trinity United Church choir as the congregation belted out favourite Methodist songs like Robert Lowry’s “Shall We Gather at the River” and Charles Wesley’s iconic “Rejoice the Lord is King”.

For a glimpse into the service and conviviality thereafter, check out the photos:

(Photos courtesy of Sarah King Head unless otherwise indicated)

The Methodist hymns followed a stellar organ recital the night before by the Director of Music and Organist at NYC’s Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church, Andrew Henderson, who returned to his hometown for a performance at St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Thorold.

All proceeds raised from the 250+ audience were generously donated to the restoration of Beaverdams Church!

Dr Henderson’s encore piece was aptly Frank Sintra’s “New York New York”, a link to which is available here. It followed on from an eclectic ensemble of more traditional organ works ranging from J.S. Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue in D–” and Felix Mendelssohn’s “Sonata No. 1 in F–” to pieces by two former organists at Temple Emmanu-El in New York City.

(Photos courtesy of Cathy Henderson)

With Friends like this, there is no doubt that historic Beaverdams Church will again be restored to its former glory!


Don’t forget next week’s Third Annual Yard Sale at Beaverdams Church! It will feature attic treasures, plants and much more as well as the participation of other vendors on site and elsewhere in the village of Beaverdams. 

For more information or to donate, please contact Donna at

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Back inside …

What a weekend we’ve got in store!

First, there’s Andrew Henderson’s benefit concert on Saturday June 6 at St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Thorold from 7.30 followed by a reception. For more information or tickets please contact Henderson’s Pharmacy on Front Street in Thorold.

Andrew Henderson concert at St Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Thorold

Andrew Henderson concert at St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Thorold

And, then, with great excitement we can announce that the 183rd Annual Dedication Service of Beaverdams Church will be held inside the church on June 7 at 10.30 a.m.

Dedication Service 7-6-15

Although the outdoor services over the previous five years found an important historical resonance in the traditional Methodist camp meetings of yore, there is a certain symmetry in being able to reassemble back inside the church – especially as this will be the last time Rev George Addison will be leading the service through Trinity United Church. Here, sheltered from whatever the weather offers and enjoying the (relative!) comfort of the pews, we can sing Methodist hymns and hear about the history of Methodism in Niagara!

How is it possible (you might be asking) that we are able to reassemble in historic Beaverdams Church?

Well, it is through the hard work of the Friends! Without the buckets and mops, masks and gloves, polishing rags, and a lot of elbow grease, this would not have been possible. For this we must thank the tireless efforts of all those who came out early on Saturday May 30, but especially to Donna Cowan for organising the event and Helene Miller for providing lunch (and ferrying away several trailers’ full of garden waste)! But a huge debt of gratitude must also be paid to Dee Adams, Gina Armstrong and helpers from the Young at Heart Choir, Melanie Battell, Denise Bradden, Dave Cowan, Lynn Dinwoodie, Marilyn Fraser, Sonia and Garrett Gibbon, Julian Gingras, David Griffiths and his family, Margie Hadley, Margaret Kalogeropoulos, Sarah King Head, John Nogas, Randy Pagett and other Beaverdams villagers, Hugh and Claire Sutherland, Lil Sypes, Bea Vanderburgh … the list goes on.

Enjoy some photos from the day!


(all photos courtesy of Sarah King Head)



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“Beaverdams Church: Its Past, Present and Future”

So was the title of the presentation given by vice president Melanie Battell and consulting engineer Mark Shoalts at the Ontario Heritage Conference Niagara 2015 earlier in the month.

It would be an understatement to say that the Friends’ participation in this event was successful – the enthusiasm for the project was palpable! About 30 people from various organisations like the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario and Community Heritage Ontario to independent heritage professionals and municipal planners gathered to listen to Melanie and Mark talk about the church’s history, the progress of restoration to-date and future directions.

Mark Shoalts and Melanie Battell following their presentation at the OHC Niagara 2015 (courtesy of Rob Leverty)

Mark Shoalts and Melanie Battell following their presentation at the OHC Niagara 2015 (courtesy of Rob Leverty)

If any of the 300 delegates didn’t get a chance to attend the presentation, they were able to discuss the project with Alan Daniels and David Griffiths while examining the model in the foyer of the Niagara-on-the-Lake Community Centre. Needless to say, the Friends were pleasantly surprised by the generous donations and offers of support!

Alan Daniels stands beside his model of the church in NOTL 1 May 2015 (courtesy of George Rust-D'Eye)

Alan Daniels stands beside his model of the church in NOTL 1 May 2015 (courtesy of George Rust-D’Eye)


The conference was definitely a perfect way to launch into the busyness of the next few weeks:

  • First up is a benefit concert by NYC’s Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church organist Andrew Henderson at St Andrew’s Church in Thorold on June 6 at 7.30 p.m. Tickets are $25 (with concession of $20 for seniors and students). Since admission will be by ticket only, make sure to buy yours at Henderson’s Pharmacy (15 Front Street, Thorold) or by calling to reserve them at 905 227 1541. All proceeds are going to the church restoration fund.
Andrew Henderson concert at St Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Thorold

You won’t want to miss Andrew Henderson’s organ concert on June 6, 2015!

  • The next morning, June 7, will be the 183rd Annual Dedication Service at Beaverdams Church, officiated by Rev George Addison
Rev George Addison at the 2014 outdoor service

Rev George Addison at the 2014 outdoor service

  •  And if that weren’t enough: the following week, June 13 (rain date: June 20), will find the Friends busily involved in the Third Annual Beaverdams Church Yard Sale – with the participation of Beaverdams village householders too! If you have anything to donate or would like to help, please call Donna at 905 227 7556 or email her at
First Annual Beavedams Church Yard Sale 2013

Memories of the First Annual Beavedams Church Yard Sale 2013

But before all this, please come out to the next
Friends of Beaverdams Church monthly meeting on
Wednesday May 27th at 7 p.m. at Trinity United Church in Thorold.

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Springing into action

After a long long winter, the promise of being outdoors again
is very exciting … especially when we look forward
to some exciting upcoming events from the
Friends of Beaverdams Church! 

• First up is the the Ontario Heritage Conference Niagara 2015 in beautiful Niagara-on-the-Lake on Friday May 1, when vice president Melanie Battell and consulting engineer Mark Shoalts will discuss the rich historical legacy of the site and consider forthcoming projects and fundraising strategies. Member-at-large David Griffiths and model maker Alan Daniels will showcase the model at this important annual heritage meeting sponsored by the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario and Community Heritage Ontario/Patrimoine communitaire de l’Ontario

OHC 2015 Logo simple


Alan Daniels explaining model to Mark Shoalts, September 2014

• Come and see the model again and chat with various Friends at the 37th Annual Arts and Craft Sale that’s being held at the Thorold Arena on May 9 from 10 to 4.

Donna Cowan discussing features of the model, 2013

• Whatever you do, you won’t want to miss the weekend of June 6 and 7 for two exceptional events:

– on June 6, a benefit concert by NYC’s Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church organist Dr. Andrew Henderson at St Andrew’s Church in Thorold, with proceeds going to the restoration fund; and

Andrew Henderson concert

– on June 7, the 183rd annual dedication church service officiated by Rev George Addison of Trinity United Thorold held on the church grounds

Rev George Addison speaking June 2015

• Finally: the 3rd annual Beaverdams Church yard sale is a week later: June 13 (rain date: June 20). This year, you can expect even more village participation with several other sales being scheduled for that day. If you have items to donate, please contact Donna at 905 227 7556 or email us at

Haggling over book stall, June 2014

Mark these dates on your calendar!

And, do remember to join us at the monthly meeting
on April 29 at 7 p.m. at  Trinity United in Thorold.

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“Moneys Expended on the Beaverdam Church …”

One hundred and fifty years ago, Beaverdams Church was in need of a new fence and other repairs.

And, thus, in 1865, a group of local Beaverdams and Thorold residents gathered their resources and go to work … or so we can assume from the statement of accounts that was drawn up in December of that year:

Courtesy of Mayholme Foundation, St Catharines

Courtesy of Mayholme Foundation, St Catharines

The names listed are familiar to the story of Beaverdams Church, including the Swayzes (Hiram, John and Malum, in this instance), James McIntosh, [Richard] Hendershot, Thomas Grenville, George Keefer, and John Whitelock.

Do you know if any or how many of their descendants still live locally? 


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It’s that time again where we look forward to the monthly meeting of the Friends, when we can discuss goings-on and upcoming events.

It’s also a time to reflect on the year that’s been. And, here, we can thank Margie Hadley for producing a newsletter that features, among other things, an interview with the Beaverdams Girls – whose memories of living in Beaverdams and attending Sunday School in the church from the 1930s helps us remember how vibrant and enriching village life could and still can be!

Beaverdams Girls and David 12-11-14

Newsletter March 2015

We also are encouraging those interested to attend the Ontario Heritage Conference Niagara 2015 that’s being hosted in Niagara-on-the-Lake from April 30 to May 3. Of special interest is the presentation that will be given by Vice-President Melanie Battell and our consulting engineer Mark Shoalts about the church: its past, present and future. If you’re interested in attending this session on May 1 from 3.30 to 5,please let us know and we’ll see if a special conference rate can be arranged.

Finally, but not least importantly: the Friends are meeting this coming Wednesday, March 25th at 7 p.m. at Trinity United Church on Pine Stret in Thorold.

We hope to see you all there!

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Whereas in and by a Statute of the Province of Upper Canada …

So begins the deed that permitted the conveyance of no more than 5 acres to non-established (or state) – the so-called ‘dissenting’ – religions, to found a “Church, Meeting-House, or Chapel, or a Burying-ground.”

And, with this remit the Trustees of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the Township of Thorold, in the County of Lincoln in the Niagara District of the Province of Upper Canada established Beaverdams Church on June 26, 1832.

All identified as “yeomen”, Hiram Swayze empowered the following Trustees with the establishment of Beaverdams Church for the sum of 10 pounds: James Brown, John Street Sr., Samuel Street Jr., James Hagar, Jonathan Hagar, William Moore and John Ker.

Thanks again to Robert Halfyard, we can pore over photographs of the original deed, now stored in Toronto at the United Church of Canada Archives.

Courtesy of Robert Halfyard

Courtesy of Robert Halfyard

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A walk down memory lane …

The February 2015 meeting not only brought together nearly 30 Friends, but also lots of archival material and exciting plans for Spring and early Summer.

Here you will find offerings from Robert Halfyard and Gina Armstrong. Enjoy!

 Here’s a preview of some Upcoming Events:

• Look for the auction of a handmade quilt as well as a framed archival photograph of the church from the Henderson’s Pharmacy collection at the Thorold Craft Sale on May 9th.

• The Friends are delighted to announce a fundraising concert by organist Dr Andrew Henderson at St Andrew’s Church in Thorold on June 6th.

• The 183rd anniversary of the dedication of Beaverdams Church will be commemorated by Rev George Addison at the church on June 7th.

• Get ready for the 3rd annual Beaverdams Church and Village yard sale on June 13th (rain date: June 20th). Start saving up your goodies for donation!

• And, the summer wouldn’t begin properly without the Mayor’s annual Canada Day Picnic … so make sure to attend and visit the Friends of Beaverdams Church display.

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