History of Kelso United Church

July 9, 2005

No matter how small the town, there was always a building nearby that stands at the heart of the community. We are here today to honour our heart.

Little Pipestone School was erected in 1884 and used for church services during the summer months. It was built ? mile north of the Co-op fuel tanks on highway 48. It was used for religious services of different denominations, Presbyterian, Methodist, and Salvation Army.

The 1st Methodist church was built on Willie Taylor’s farm NE 7-11-33-W1. The land is now owned by Lee Struble.

The earliest graves of the community were placed near the location of the school. Land was donated by Matt Taylor and some of the bodies were moved there. It is now known as the Meridian Cemetery. The 1st grave was that of Thomas Evans, 24 years of age, who was badly frozen during the blizzard in which his father was lost.

In 1903, a Presbyterian Church was built on SE 36-11-33 W2. It was built on land donated by Allan Wilson, the land is now owned by Lane Brehaut. The building of the new church was organized and built by James Drinnan, John McPherson, Jim, Fred and Tom Porter, Matthew Taylor, Robert Dooley, John McNichol, Robert Randall, Andrew McVicar, Levi Havens and Allan Wilson. The work was done voluntarily under the direction of Mr. Simpson, a carpenter from Moosomin.

The 1st Marriage to take place in the new church was that of Robert Steele and Maggie Porter in 1904. According to records, Thomas and Helen Porter were in the choir and Jim Porter was the choir leader.

In 1909, plans were made to move the Church, from the Meridian to Kelso. Preparations were made to move it across country on huge skids over the snow covered ground. They tried to move the church with a steam engine, however it proved too much for such modern power and it was decided to use horses. This required a very complicated hook-up as 32 teams of horses and a few oxen were necessary to move the building.

Levi Havens climbed out on the draw bar with a big whip and after getting the horses all to lurch forward, was unable to climb back again, so was forced to stay on the drawbar all the way to Kelso in order to keep from falling off. Theodore Ketcheson fell off, someone yelled “Stop!” “We can’t stop now for one man” was the reply. Fortunately, he went unscathed between the skids as the church passed over him.

The first recorded minutes of the Kelso Presbyterian Church must have been right after the church was moved, as they dealt with banking the church with earth, getting insurance on the building and selling the planks that were used for the move.

In 1910, it was decided to build a manse next to the church. The minister was Rev. Frederick Christian.

In 1911 the 1st concert was planned, with proceeds to go to the ministers salary. Mrs. Tom Porter and Mrs. Will Greenbank, who both had beautiful voices, donated freely of their time and were often called upon to sing duets. Mr. M. L. McDonald’s offer of gift of bible for the church was accepted and 50 new hymn books were purchased.

In 1914, Rev. Harry Cox was minister. Times must have been difficult because the main business of meetings seemed to be payments due on the church and manse. As well they were behind with the ministers salary.

In 1915, thanks were given for numerous gifts of time and labour.

In 1916, a social evening was held at which the highlight was
“burning the mortgage.”

In 1917, Rev. Wilson was minister, and a Women’s missionary Society was formed.

In 1918, Rev. Charles Jack from Glasgow was the minister.

In 1919, two ladies were added to the board of managers. Mrs. Forbes was organist and she also taught piano lessons to children in the district.

In 1920, annual reports from Sunday school, Women’s Missionary Society and Ladies Aid were good and there was discussion on buying a furnace.

In 1921, proceeds of a concert went to raise money for famine in China.

In 1923, the board of managers were Hugh Shepherd, B. McNichol, Mrs. Coutts and Mrs. O. Hambleton.

In 1924, the 1st fowl supper was held. Mrs. Oscar Hambleton, Mrs. Will Greenbank, and Mrs. Taylor were given thanks for outstanding service. Glenn Taylor, Tommy Porter, Neil Porter, Dave Steele and Roy Fisk were named as ushers.

In 1925, Rev. Arthur Pringle was the minister, and Mrs. Pringle was the choir leader. Church time was changed to evening.

In 1926, a motion was made to the effect that Tommy Porter and Glenn Taylor take up collection for one month, followed by Roy Fisk and Dave Steele, then Russell Hambleton and Will McVicar. The Sunday school report was given by Neil Porter. This was a way of getting the younger generation involved with the work of the church.

In 1931, the Ladies Aid took over all management financially of the church building and manse. The Ladies Aid were a group of hard working women, who met regularly, sewed, organized, and made the most of this chance of socialization with one another. They had a portable sewing machine that belonged to the Aid and the one in the home of the hostess was put into action also. With all members at work, many articles were started and taken home for completion. I remember my Grandmother, Etta Porter, being a member of the Ladies Aid. The meetings were held in different homes each month. The times that “Ta” was hostess, I remember all the fancy treats that were served, the little sandwiches that had the crusts cut off, and always using the good china, which we sometimes got to help wash and put away.

In 1934, Rev. Henderson was minister and the Young Peoples Society had a membership of 65.

In 1935, Mrs. Scott was choir leader, and she also taught music in the community. This year also saw the beginning of the Kelso Quartet, which consisted of Cliff Atkinson, Hubert Porter, Frank Steele and Roy Hambleton. Later George Porter and later still Ron Porter became part of this Quartet.

In 1936, a CGIT was formed.

In 1937, two mission bands were formed, a junior, and a senior.

In 1938, trees were planted around the church lot.

In 1939, Rev. Evan Richard was minister. The Sunday school had 6 teachers and an enrollment of 60.

In 1941, Rev. C.H. McLellan was minister and when he resigned in 1944 there was discussion on joining the Wawota/Glen Adelaide field. From 1945 until 1950 we were served by student ministers.

In 1950, Rev. Groom was minister and in the summer a student minister, Miss Keith held some services in Kelso.

In 1951, the interior of the church was redone and insul brick was put on the outside. A Hammond Spinet organ was bought. Clerks of the session were Mr. William Greenbank and Mr. William Crawford. The board of stewards was Mr. and Mrs. Phil Hunt, Mr. and Mrs. Francis Greenbank, George Underhill, Hubert Porter, Ed Fisk and Roy Maywood. It was decided that Doonside, Fairlight and Maryfield would join to form one charge, and Kelso would join Wawota/Glen Adelaide. The 1st minister to serve this charge was Rev. Ross McMurtry. Rev. McMurtry along with his wife Francis spent five years in our charge.

From 1956 until 1958 there was some trouble obtaining a minister. Mr. Herrod from the Presbyterian Church in Moosomin held services every other Sunday. Mr. J. Sangster also held some services. A Hi-C group was formed, they took trips, and represented our church at various functions. According to a reliable source, after the meetings were over , which were usually not that long, the kids would sit around in cars and visit. But they would tell their parents,
“Wow! what a long meeting we had.”

In 1958, Rev. Vernon Watkinson arrived from England.

In 1959, a special service was held in honour of Miss Kate Greenbank, who, after 39 years of missionary teaching in Kofu, Japan was coming home.

In 1960, Rev. Stan Folkes was minister.

In 1961, the Currie family donated the Baptismal font in memory of their parents Mr. and Mrs. John Currie. Rev. Karl Burden was minister. He will be remembered as the minister that, along with Hubert Porter, fell off the roof of the church while it was being shingled. After Hubert had his accident, he decided to leave the farm and start a new way of life. He was accepted as a lay minister with the United Church in 1965. In 1972 he became an ordained minister. Rev. Porter, who was my great uncle, performed the last marriage that took place in this church in 1974, that was Lane and myself.

In 1966, Rev. Ralph Garbe was minister.

In 1967, Clark Lewis was added to the session. A bronze cross and offering plates were given by the W.J. Greenbank family in memory of their parents, Will and Tena Greenbank

In 1969, there was discussion on whether Fairmede and Vandura should become part of this charge, but it was not followed through. Clark Lewis was clerk of session. Mary Ketcheson was on the session board. The board of stewards was Don Greenbank, Gordon Knelson, Harvey Ketcheson, Floyd Porter and Betty Ketcheson.

In 1970, Clarence Bogner became a member of the session. General discussions took place on the future of the church. It seemed the Junior Choir and Sunday school were the best means of increasing attendance.

In 1971, Rev. Fred Markowsky, was minister.

According to Qu’Appelle Presbytery minutes, in November 1974 the property committee was to contact Kelso, Vandura, Fairmede, and Walpole and help them in their decision as to what to do with their church building and their congregation roll.

In 1987, the church doors were re-opened to hold its last funeral. Reverend Markowsky buried my Dad, Floyd Porter.

Some of my fondest memories are of my sisters and I going to church with Ta and Neil. Of course we were often dressed in identical dresses that were hand made by Ta. Another memory is sitting with Ta and she would give one of us her gloves and another would get to play with her precious pearls (at least we thought they were precious), they were snap together plastic beads that we could make as long or short as we wanted. One of us would inevitably drop the dime or nickel that we had been given for Sunday School collection, after a stern look we were allowed to retrieve it and that usually made us sit still for another little while. I also remember when we were still going to school at Kelso, the what were to me, extravagant Christmas Concerts that we put on. We practiced in the school, and had dress rehearsals at the church. We sang songs and put on skits. The brown velvet curtains would slowly be pulled back to reveal the crowd. The pews would be full of parents, grandparents, siblings, and other interested spectators. The front of the stage was removable I was in awe the first time that happened. The Christmas tree sat in the corner.

We had some good times, when Jeanne Steele, joined later by Norma Ketcheson put together a Choir. We had great fun at practices, we got to sing all the oldies, and also all the “new” songs that were coming out in movies. Jeanne would be playing the organ with one shoe off, one hand playing and the other hand directing the different voices.

The church was the centre of the community. Within these walls; cantata’s, fowl suppers, weddings, showers, debates, musical variety nights, drama nights, funerals, vacation bible school and any big social event were held.

In 1996, a meeting was held to decide what to do with the building. So the building was tendered out, the baptismal font, the collection plates donated to the Wawota United Church the pews and the useful wainscoting removed. After a few years, when it became apparent that nothing more was being done with it, another meeting was held. As well, Faye Greenbank wasn’t fond of her new neighbours, the birds, the bats, the raccoons, and the skunks.

In 2004, the church was demolished, which brings us to where we are now–dedicating this cairn in honour of our forefathers. All of these pioneers have passed on, but many have left families that are still in our community and many are here today to represent them. I’m sure that we all have memories of this church, good or not so good. But as a community — it is important to remember our roots and to pass on to the next generations the importance of this rock–where once there stood a church.

Wendy Brehaut