General News

A Scottish Afternoon open to all at St. Andrew’s Stone Church

June 13, 2019   ·   0 Comments

Written By CONSTANCE SCRAFIELD

Don Carruthers, President of the Friends of St. Andrew’s, an Incorporated not-for-profit organization run entirely by volunteers, says the upcoming Scottish Afternoon at St. Andrew’s Stone Church, Caledon, is “an informal day of celebration – just a bunch of volunteers celebrating the Scottish heritage in Caledon, inviting the community to join them, for lots of entertainment and conversation.”

It’s set for Saturday, June 22, with plenty happening; Mr. Carruthers was enthusiastic about enlarging on the program.

“Sandhill Pipes and Drums is the only Pipes and Drums band in Caledon,” he remarked, “and they are coming to play for us.”

In fact, it was a bagpipe being played, a mystery at first, that inspired the idea of offering this afternoon as an annual event. 

“A number of years ago – my wife and I live close to the church – and we heard the sound of the pipes being played next to the church. The next week, we heard it again. So, we went to investigate and there was a gentlemen playing the pipes. He told us, ‘I live in Brampton. And, since I drive by here, I see the Scottish residents lying here under the stones and so I’m serenading them by playing the pipes. I could never practise the pipes in my neighbourhood, so, I thought people wouldn’t mind here.’

“We thought it was wonderful but we never saw him again. Then, we thought, why don’t we do something at the Church?” 

On Saturday, June 22, “at 11:45 a.m., the Sandhill Pipes and Drums Band comes down the road and they play in the cemetery. Come and hear the band play. This is a very informal, fun afternoon. Everybody’s welcome and we’re trying to protect our heritage, keep the grounds and building going.”

Further on during the afternoon, “Then, Rhythm Foot, with the Leahy family, Frank and Chanda Leahy with their family, will perform step-dancing and Scottish tunes. There will be Scottish country dancing, a very old style of Scottish dancing by a group from Mono Mills and Brampton. It’s performed outside.”

Going inside, “there’ll be Highland dancing.”

All this is followed by Dave Ward and Liz Ward, vocals and violin.

“We’d like to give a shout out by Caledon Lions Club who are joining us to do the hot dogs and hamburgers, for sale. All the proceeds go back to the Friends of St. Andrew’s. The talent is all donated and the Lions Club donates too. We try to keep everything as local as possible. There’ll be a tent outside so people can hear the music while they’re eating.” 

As a formal collection, the Friends of St. Andrew’s Stone Church, was formed in 2003 with a mandate of restoring the church and cemetery. Built in 1853, as a Presbyterian Church, St. Andrew’s  was decommissioned in the mid-1960’s, and “a group of people came together to start to restore it, to see to the longevity of the church.”

Adding to the history of restoration, “It has received a lot of attention; way back in 2005, Trillium funded the project to help with electrical, an emergency exit and refurbishing the pews. We think these pews came in from another venue.”

There are “many things presented at the Church but the summer event is the Scottish Festival in the afternoon. We want to promote the Scottish heritage in the area.”

“Many pioneers in the area were Scottish,” he pointed out.

The venue is available for weddings and “has been for years and we keep that on. It’s non-denominational. It’s quite rustic – there is no water. There’s an outhouse washroom.”

A variety of entertainment has been produced there over the years.

“We’ve brought in a grand piano for a classical music concert. Once a Shakespearian group came and did a play there. 

“There’s an original 1840’s pump organ that has been restored, that we play. It’s played at Christmas for our annual Scottish Christmas Evening; a person comes from Baden, Ontario to play. It’s a beautiful sound.

“We’re hoping to have a concert in the fall with the organ.”

On a personal note, Mr. Carruthers remarked, “It is a heritage. We started with this church; we were married in it before it was decommissioned in the 1960’s. It was part of a three-point charge but services were ceased in the ’60’s; the care wasn’t there. I am president and [wife] Cheryl is secretary for the Friends of St. Andrew’s.

“It is now owned by the Town of Caledon. We’ve worked with the town. We’re actually supporting the church at very little expense to the town.”

He was clear to say, “We want it to continue and we’re always looking for volunteers to help. We hired contractors to do the repointing and electrical. We hired an outside contractor to do those. 

“As far as the day-to-day,” he continued, “we almost live next door, so we see that the grass is cut.”

Maintenance can come with exotic requirements, as Mr. Carruthers explained, “We put a new fence up at the road, as close to the original that was there. It was a long process – the wire had to come from Australia, like wire from 1940’s. Probably, there wasn’t a fence there until the gravel road was put up. We come as close as we can with today’s tools. We have photos from that time that show the fencing. 

“With a contingency plan to do more; it has been pointed, electrical, now we’re painting inside and there has been some issues, the paint is flaking off. So, it looks rustic. The damp – we believe that ‘s what it is; there’s no heating except for the wood stove which we light when we’re using it in the colder months.

“There was some solace about the paint flaking in Sterling Castle in Scotland. When we were there, they have the same problem we’re having. So, we’re in good company. The church was built by Scottish pioneers.

He commented, “We’ll wrap the Scottish afternoon up by about 3:00 pm. Just, an informal community event – meet new people and neighbours you haven’t seen for a while. It’s just a fun afternoon.” 

He offered the bargain: “Put your kilt on and you’ve an afternoon for no charge.”

The Scottish Day afternoon for St. Andrew’s Stone Church takes place on the church property at 17621 St. Andrew’s Road, Caledon. The band opens the event with a march down the road at 11:45. There is a small admission fee unless you are wearing a kilt, as Mr. Carruthers said. 

To learn more and contact the Friends of St. Andrew’s there is a website: stand church.org.



         

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