History of the Incumbents at St. George's Memorial

In 1843 the Rev. John Pentland, who was the incumbent of St. Paul's, Columbus and St. John's Port Whitby, also became responsible for St. George's of Oshawa, which at that time had no permanent place of worship. Apparently, services were held in the old Court House because the Council room was unoccupied on Sundays.

The first St. George's Church in Oshawa was built on the north-east corner of Park Road and King Street on land donated by a Mr. Warren in 1847 or 1848. It was a very simple wood structure and remembered by Mrs. Blair, as "a pretty little white church." It served the congregation until 1858 when the second St. George's was built.

The First St. George's Church
The second church was built on land situated on the north-east corner of John and Centre Streets. It was a frame structure and although much of the old church was used in the the building of the new church, it was more elaborate than its predecessor. As well, the altar, retable and font are among furnishings brought to the second St. George's and these items are still being used in St. Peter's Anglican Church, Oshawa. A tower and spire were added, as well as other exterior finishes, giving it a more graceful appearance that the first church.

St George's became an independent parish in 1873, during the incumbency of Canon William Belt. He and his large family lived in the parsonage built at the north-east corner of Centre and Bagot Streets. It was a frame building which was replaced by a brick building in 1876.

In 1880, the congregation felt the need for a permanent Sunday School and Parish Hall. At the same time the church was in need of both enlargement and repair. John and William Cowan, prominent members of the congregation, offered to provide the funds for the renovations and enlargement of the church, if the congregation would raise funds for the Parish Hall.

The Parish Hall stood north of the rectory, facing Centre St. and was opened on Sunday October 10, 1880, during the incumbency of of the Rev. J. Middleton. The chancel of the church was extended to the east, a gallery was constructed at the back of the church, the steeple repaired and the whole building put in such good shape that it lasted another 40 years.

In 1889, a charter was procured by Mr. Middleton to provide for an Anglican girls' college. This new school was opened in the former residence of T.N. Gibbs located on Simcoe St. South where Central Collegiate now stands. The official opening was held on October 1,1889. It was named Bishop Bethune College after the second Bishop of Toronto. Because of financial difficulties, the property and running of the school were transferred to the Sisters of St. John the Divine. Under the direction of the Sisterhood, the college carried on for another thirty years. They were in close communion with St. George's Church, during that time. In 1932 the College was closed.

On Feb. 1, 1910, the Rev. C.R. de Pencier was inducted as rector. In the fall of 1912, a special meeting of the Vestry was held to consider offers from the Pedlar People Ltd. to buy the church property. The company paid a down payment of $3000.00 during 1913 with the rest to be paid on possession of the church which was to be within 3 to 5 years. They decided to build the new church on the land occupied by the Rectory, on the north-east corner of Centre and Bagot Streets. A building campaign began immediately, but because of the War the plans were delayed. The Pedlar Co. extended permission to the vestry to retain the use of the Church property. In 1919, the first sod was turned by the Ninth Duke of Devonshire, Governor-General of Canada. In 1922 the Cornerstone was laid by Major General J.H. McBrien, Chief of the Canadian General Staff and the blessing was pronounced by the Right Rev. James Sweeney, Bishop of Toronto. The Church took the name of St. George's Memorial Anglican Church. The church was built of Credit Valley whitestone and is of old English gothic architecture. The church was designed and the building supervised by Eden Smith and Son, Architects.

The final service in the old church took place on May 4, 1924 and the new church opened a week later. The tower and carillon of the church were given by Thomas Houston of Cincinnati, Ohio in memory of Mrs. Houston's father, Edward Carswell. The bells installed in the Memorial Tower were made by the Whitechapel Bell foundry in London England. The bells number 15 and the largest weighing fifty-two hundred weight.

The property on which the second church was built was purchased by the city to use as a park and on April 23, 1939 the congregation dedicated a new pillar in Memorial Park, commemorating the former church.

The Rector C.D. Cross was inducted on Oct. 2, 1955. During his incumbency two memorial windows in the chapel were dedicated to the memory of Canon Rose who was the rector from 1934 to 1955, and during whose incumbency the present parish hall was built. In 1958, a stained glass window was installed in recognition of forty-five years of service by Edward Drage, by the congregation. He continued as sexton until 1961. Canon Cross left in June 1962 and was replaced by the Venerable Archdeacon Fred Ongley in October, 1962.

In 1965 the organ had to be replaced. A three-manual Casavant replaced the old organ. The organist, Alan Reesor devoted a great deal of time working with Casavant to ensure that the organ and the church acoustics were carefully matched. The new organ was dedicated in Feb. 1966 by the Right Rev. F. H. Wilkinson, Bishop of Toronto.

In April 1977 Archdeacon Ongley preached his farewell sermon. In September, The Rev. David Peasgood arrived to take over as incumbent. In 1978 the Vestry approved a recommendation to restore and refurbish Cowan House. It is one of the few remaining historic buildings in downtown Oshawa. It had been used as a rectory and later as offices and apartment for the assistant curates.

As the 60th anniversary approached, much needed repair work was tackled and the buildings were put into a structurally sound condition.

In 1981 David Peasgood became a Canon of St. James' Cathedral and in 1994 became Archdeacon of Trent-Durham and an assistant to Bishop Douglas Blackwell. He left St. George's in January 1994 and in September of that year we welcomed Paul Feheley as our rector.

The Rev. A. Paul Feheley was inducted as the incumbent of St. George’s on September 25, 1994. The sermon was preached by Archdeacon Colin R. Johnson. The Reverend Paul Feheley has a Divinity degree, from Trinity College, in Toronto and Bachelor of Music degree, from the Faculty of Music, University of Toronto. During his incumbency a third service, done in a contemporary format, was introduced; the Parish Hall was air conditioned; a grand piano was purchased for the sanctuary; an outside light was installed to illuminate the east window, at night; a votive candle stand was placed at the entrance to the Lady Chapel; a new stairway, to reach the chimes, was built in the tower and a columbarium was erected in the church cemetery on Park Road. He also oversaw a major restoration campaign which undertook tower and drainage repairs as well as some repairs to Cowan House. He was Regional Dean of the Oshawa Deanery. During his time here we had our first female Assistant Curate in the person of the Reverend Millie Hope. He was made a Canon of the Cathedral Church of St. James in January 1997. In May, 2004 he became an Archdeacon. He was a candidate for election to Bishop and celebrated the 25th anniversary of his ordination here at St. George’s . In June of 2005 he left to become the principal secretary to the Most Reverend Andrew Hutchison, the Anglican Primate of Canada.

-written by Ruth Park, Archivist, with special thanks to Kathleen Rose, author of St. George's: Our Heritage.

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