Our History

OUR HISTORYBala United Church

The town of Bala was founded in 1868. The first religious services were held in a wooden schoolhouse, starting in 1880. The first ministers were from other parts of Muskoka.  It was decided that Bala would be under jurisdiction of the Presbyterian church and Windemere was considered to be under the Jurisdiction  of the Methodist Church.

In 1892, Thomas Burgess donated the present property to the congregation, for the building of a church. The designation for the church to be built on the lot was left up to the trustees. In 1893,  work began using an abundance of wood, that came from the mill stream. The first services held in the unfinished church with services conducted by students from the pastoral charge in Port Carling. The first minister was Rev Donald McKay, who was appointed in 1903

The church ministered to the whole of the Bala community until 1920, when the Anglicans withdrew and built their own church on the other side of the falls. In 1921, the Union Church of Bala was formed although it continued to be associated with Port Carling.

In 1925, a vote was taken on the wider issue of the union of the Congregational, Methodist and Presbyterian churches though all of Canada. The majority of parishioners voted for the union. Shortly afterwards, the Presbyterian faction withdrew and later built their own church on the Portage below the falls.

A pipe organ was installed in 1926, and later that year, a furnace was put in the basement.  On Sunday March 11 1934, a fire started and the church was destroyed. The members of the congregation decided to rebuild immediately on the same spot. “All the work including the furnishing was done by Local workmen” under the leadership of Lorne Jackson.

The bell  which had been sitting idle for many years, came  from the old Commandant church on the Gibson reserve. In 1959, a memorial fund was set up and an electric carillon was installed. The old bell was resurected in 1977 and was rung for the first time by Mrs Lillian Sutton, Leda Sutton’s mother-in-law. Once again the bell became used as the warning signal for fires in the town.Bala United Church

The organ came from the Allen theatre on College Street in Toronto. It had been built in the late 19thcentury. The organ was dismantled in 1961 and was rebuilt to have the console face the choir. Improvements were made in 1987 when a 4 foot clarinette rank was added to the organ. In1980, it was reported that it was the only functioning pipe organ in Muskoka?

In 1959, the christian education wing, now called the Jackson Wing, was built on the back of the church. The present kitchen was installed in the early 2000s and the basement of the wing was renovated in 2013?

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