Jubilee Methodist Church

Township of Seneca History (1967)

York United had its beginnings back in the earliest known time of the area with the itinerant missionary holding services at the Plaster Beds, York, Sims Locks. These were the two closest to present day York. There were four branches of the Methodist Church in existence at that time in the newly forming country: the Primitive, Wesleyan, Bible Christian and Episcopal. These were united into the Methodist Church of Canada in 874. The Wesleyan Methodists at York, Primitive Jubilee in Oneida and Zion (opposite Petch’s school house), Ebenezer (3rd line) Zoar (Dilse farm) and Bell’s Church, 4th line Oneida, were known as the Grand River circuit with York appearing as the strongest in 1884.

In 1844 a Society of Methodist adherents bought a parcel of land in the village of York from Thomas Strachan for fifteen pounds. Thomas Strachan, one of the first settlers, came to York about 1835. The original deed exists today in its entirety and is held by the clerk of the present day session, Harry Young. The land was to be used for the erection of a church and cemetery plot. The trustees were appointed in the name of the Wesleyan Church in Canada and the first ones were George Raymond, Joseph Cornish, Samuel Cornish and Matthew Gill.

The Grand River Bridge at York completed in 1892, made it convenient for both sides of the river to work together. Up to that time a foot-bridge and a ferry had been used in crossings. The Grand River circuit was and was set up in January of 1880. All of these churches were either Primitive or Wesleyan Methodist.

The Churches at Zoar and Zion were not strong points in the circuit and about 1884 discontinued services, 1884 at Zoar and 1888 at Zion. Both church buildings were sold shortly thereafter.

In 1886 Jubilee church in Oneida was closed and in the same year the church at York was built to take care of both congregations.

The present church sits on the same site as the old Wesleyan Methodist church and parsonage. In the laying of the corner stone, a glass jar containing the Toronto Globe, currency of that year, and the names of the members and officers of the church was placed. The first resident minister was Rev. Fallis.

Sometime after Church Union in 1925, York became known as the Oneida-York charge along with Ebenezer, and since then the minister has resided in the manse at Oneida.

Since the Church’s inception, a good choir has provided music to add to the grace and dignity of the service. Some of the leaders have been Milton Bradt, Mr. Jarrett, Mark Senn, Mrs. P. Hunt and Mrs. Elgin Bradt.

Ontario Genealogical Society History

Rev. John Davison, a missionary, assisted with services at Plaster Beds across the river from York. The settlers were miners from Durham and Northumberland counties in England. In the year 1860, Thomas Martindale donated a parcel of land on the crest of a hill overlooking the McKenzie Creek and the Grand River for the site of a chapel and a cemetery. Here, Jubilee Primitive Methodist Church, so named because it was built in the Jubilee year of the connection, was erected at a cost of $695.00. Although there were only 25 members, the building was paid for in two years.

The Church was dedicated by Rev. Thomas Crompton who preached each Sunday service, morning and evening. Father Lyle of the Roman Catholic faith held services there on Sunday afternoons. Jubilee was noted for its rousing camp meetings to which people came by sleigh loads from neighbouring communities to join in the enthusiastic form of worship. Across the road from the Church, land was  donated by Thomas Peart for parsonage and church shed. These buildings have long since been removed, the parsonage being moved to the York Road where it became the home of Mr. & Mrs. Fred Wilson.

In 1886 the new Methodist Church was built across the river at York, and a few years later the services at Jubilee were discontinued. The cemetery is still used and cared for. In the summer of 1960, a service was held to commemorate the 100th year of the Jubilee Church. Several services have been held since honouring the memory of pioneers who rest there.