Christian and Anglican faith has a long and rich tradition in our area. The seeds were planted by the numerous explorers who travelled across, or temporarily resided, in the County starting in the 1600s – Champlain, LaSalle, Frontenac, and others. The first settlers – United Empire Loyalists – crossed Lake Ontario in 1784, and included British and German troops disbanded after the American War of Independence.
In the late 1700s, Anglican clergymen served the area encompassing the present Parish of Marysburgh. In 1821, Reverend William Macaulay from Picton likely cared for the Anglicans in Marysburgh until our two churches were built, funds were raised to support a priest, and the Parish of Marysburgh was officially established. Historical evidence indicates that both churches were constructed prior to 1839. The Diocese of Toronto was formed in 1839 and encompassed the Marysburgh area. The Parish of Marysburgh was officially established by Bishop J. Strachan in 1850, and the first local priest, Rev. J. Tooke, arrived in 1851. Since then, the two Anglican churches have served as spiritual homes to several generations of mostly farmers, agriculture being the dominant industry and way of life in the County. Cash crops (wheat, barley, vegetables, fruit – mostly apples) and dairy operations played an important role in local and export economies.
Over time, the local population experienced significant changes – decreasing due to the Depression in the 1930s; increasing during World War II; and decreasing again as farm mechanization resulted in fewer employment opportunities. In recent decades population changes have reflected an increase in the number of tourists and people looking for a more rural lifestyle. The Anglican churches reflected these changes yet continued to thrive. Following the decline of the agricultural economy and its employment base, the church membership changed to include local business people, people living in the Milford area and visitors to the County.
For more information on the parish history, click here, or see East and West of the Rock: A History of the Parish of Marysburgh, Prince Edward County. Ecoprint. 76p. (Available at many Prince Edward County stores).