United Church chairs aren’t what they used to be

  • Mar. 16, 2011 6:00 a.m.
The case of the missilng chair tops.

The case of the missilng chair tops.

For those of you who read the Quesnel Cariboo Observer’s Christmas edition you will, I hope, have read of the early 1950s and the board sidewalks and the clearing of the same. That was sidewalk clearing by yours truly and many others of the congregation.

As I first stated, the winter of 1954 was also my first year of attendance as a worshipper and congregation member in St. Andrew’s United Church. In looking back, I think of all the changes that have come about since those early years and not just ministers.

Did you know that we used to be surrounded by houses and trees and gardens – from the church hall to past the original Legion Hall to the old, then only cemetery?

Behind the church was an old sawdust storage shed, filled with old boards (you never know when you’ll need ‘em) pews and boxes and just plain junk! Oh, yes and some sawdust. We also used to be able to burn our rubbish in an old 45-gallon drum. Very sophisticated.

For a long time the roads, except for Highway 97, the old Cariboo Road” were just gravel. The highway itself came up Davie Street, then it turned left along Carson Avenue for three blocks until it came to Front Street and carried on north out of town.

In those days only the highway portions were paved. As I said in my Christmas story, most of us in Quesnel had board sidewalks. That was in the 1950s, 60-plus years ago. Hard to believe the time and years have flashed by so fast. So that works out to St. Andrew’s being 40 years of age, on its corner in Quesnel, in the mid-1950s.

Here’s an amusing story about one of our ministers and some church furnishings.

At the front of the Sanctuary there are three large, rather austere, uncomfortable-looking chairs. These chairs were originally given as a memorial to the late William Ewing and one later in memorial to Charlotte Ewing who was William’s widow. At one time there were pointed “ecclesiastical” tops on each of the chairs. These pointed window-like tops were carved to match the balance of the chair. Are you wondering where they went? Well, it seems the minister we had back in the early 1960s, the Reverend J. Hadden Gregory, didn’t like them and the last that I saw of them was the partially burned remnants of these oak chair tops in that burner barrel out back of the church. I think those chairs are the oldest pieces of furniture in use at St. Andrews, so I guess we are lucky the rest of the chairs still survive.

In retrospect, those tops did seem to burn quite well. Reverend Gregory died in Salmon Arm in December 2009.

Jack Nelson is an amateur historian, member of St. Andrew’s United Church congregation and regular Observer contributor.