Rev. Gavin Hamilton, first pastor of the Presbyterian Church, came to Cardston April 25, 1897. Born in New Brunswick, he was educated at Dalhousie College and had charges at Brookfield, N.S. and Dalhousie, N.B. Throat trouble forced his resignation from the latter and he came west for his health. He located at Macleod September 5, 1891 and took charge of the Presbyterian Church at that place. His predecessor had a congregation of only 5 people. In the first six months, Rev. Hamilton collected only 50 dollars from his pastorate. He had to do the janitor work. The next year he collected $646.00, and the following year $1200.00. At the end of the first six months his congregation had grown from five to ninety, and attendance thereafter averaged 100.
When he came to Cardston a lot was bought from Sterling Williams and a manse was completed by December I897. The church was finished by June 1898, and is now (1978) a private home east of the manse. The cost of both buildings was $2250. They were built by J. C. Cahoon.
The first church board was organized February 18, 1900. The board consisted of J. J. Orton, Chairman; J. C. Johnson - Sec. Treas.; L. H. Bonnell, R. M. Armstrong, and H. D'Arc-members. At the dedication service 200 people were present with Rev. Grant as visiting speaker.
By 1900 services were also held at St. Marys on the Cook farm, and at Mountain View. Rev. Hamilton travelled 25 to 36 miles every week, holding alternate services. At St. Marys a 30 x 22 foot church was built and an organ installed. At Mountain View a 40 x 24 building was purchased from Mr. D. H. Cox and used for a church.
The first wedding in the Cardston church was that of Mr. and Mrs. Vern Shaw, and the next was Mr. and Mrs. Henry Noble. The first funeral was Jim Turner's, who was Mrs. Noble's brother. Mr. and Mrs. Woolford were married in the manse in 1920. Mrs. Woolford only recently passed away in October 1977.
Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton were broad-minded, progressive citizens and did much to better the community as a whole. They were highly esteemed and admired by all who knew them. Mrs. Hamilton was a talented, accomplished lady and a devoted wife.
Some of the ministers that came and went over the next few years were: Rev. Whitmore-who helped the church at Jefferson get started. Rev. Cameron started church meetings at Raley, first in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Church, later in the school when it was built. Rev. Kellock was the minister in Cardston in 1918 to 1920. Rev. Aylsworth was the last Presbyterian minister. He came in 1920 and stayed until 1925. During his stay the present church was built.
The present church was built in 1922. The first United Church minister was Rev. H. W. Stevinson, who was here in 1925. Bill Laidlaw came to town in 1924 and started being organist in June 1925 and still is as of 1978. Bill was president of the Sunday School starting in 1929 and kept the job until 1962. Bill lived on the south hill and did not have a car. He made two trips a Sunday on foot to the church, one for church and one for Sunday School. Bill was on the church board for years and is now a church elder.
In 1926 Mr. and Mrs. George Wolff moved to Cardston. They became involved in the church, Mrs. Wolff going to one meeting of the Ladies Aid and the next month was installed as president. Mrs. Wolff is still very involved in the church.
The 1930's were quiet years in the church. Some of the expenses taken from the teasurer's books in the Thirties are of interest. P. G. Peterson for building a coffin-$7.25.
Out house for the manse-$10.00.
Wood and Son meat for Men's Club supper-$1.70.
Cleaning church-$.75 a month.
Frank Christie for building fires-$2.00 a month.
Insurance on Manse-$7.00 for three years.
Model Millinery-silk for shroud-$2.65.
Taxes on Manse for 1934-$23.76.
Annual Church Supper proceeds-$47.70.
Roy Neilson kalsomined church-$5.00 and 52.60
for the kalsomine.
Linoleum-$2.95 and laid for $3.85.
In the Thirties the Christies took a prominent part in the church. Mrs. V. V. Christie, Cleland Christie, Ryerson and Ada Christie.
During the 40's with Rev. Bert King as minister an addition was made to the manse adding kitchen, utility room, bathroom, and two bedrooms. Most of this work was done by Sam Carson who had moved from Woolford to Cardston and was a carpenter by trade.
In the '50's Rev. Jim Vietch as minister started the "every family visitation".
In the 60's, Rev. Bob Stobie was minister. The United Church hall was built. During this time a United Church was built in Waterton Lakes.
In the 70's our minister was Rev. Carnochan. At this time the Chinook Co-operative Parish was formed. This included Nobleford, Barons, Iron Springs, Picture Butte, Coaldale, Raymond, Magrath, and Cardston. Later the three Lethbridge churches came into the Parish. In this Parish we have two ordained ministers and two more ordained ministers are shared with the city churches. These ministers preach in their own charge three Sundays a month, on the fourth Sunday each church has an alternate minister or a layman.
This new concept of a Parish allows us to have our own church board and treasury and also contains a cen- tral board and treasury.
In the seventies we finished paying for our church hall. It was also a time of loss for our congregation as we lost many of our long time members-Mrs. Cook, Dr. V. V. Christie, Mr. A. Darby, Mr. G. Wolff, Mr. and Mrs. Ryerson Christie.
In June 1975 the United Church of Canada celebrated its 50th Anniversary. To commemorate the occasion, St. Andrews United Church of Cardston celebrated with two special events. Sunday, June 8th, a dinner and program were held in the hall. Representatives were present from the L.D.S. Wards, the Lutheran, Anglican and Catholic Churches, and members and friends of St. Andrew's. There were 275 persons attended the evening dinner and program. The Master of Ceremony was Mr. Harvey Wolff. Congratulations were extended from the other churches. Rev. Jim Ruxton has a short mediation on church union. Mrs. Roy Long gave the history of the Presbyterian and the United Church. The church choir, led by Martha Reichle, sang. Following this the youth group presented a skit. A fashion show under the direction of Mrs. Gail Valentine was presented showing fashions over the last 75 years.
The second event was the Anniversary Sunday, June 22nd at 11 a.m .
The fall of 1975 Rev. H. Usher and family moved to Cardston. Rev. Usher, being a carpenter as well as a Minister, got a lot and by Christmas moved into their new home.
Presbyterian Church ministers:1897 Rev. Gavin Hamilton
1910 Rev. Whitmore
1912- 13 Rev. Cameron
1918 Rev. Kellock
1920-25 Rev. C. Aylsworth
United Church Ministers:1926-7 Rev. H. W. Stevinson
1928 Rev. G. E. Annis
1929-30 Rev. M. E. Wiggins
1931-35 Rev. E. Davidge
1935-40 Rev. F. T. Habgood
1940-44 Rev. James McKeloey
1944-48 Rev. Tom Haythorne
1948-51 Rev. A. E. King
1951-53 Rev. Bev Johnson
1953-56 Rev. Doug Berry
1956-58 Rev. D. MacGregor
1958-61 Rev. Jim Vietch
1961-66 Rev. Robert Stobie
1966-68 Rev. Jim Vietch
1968-73 Rev. C. Carnochan
1973-75 Rev. Jim Ruxton
1975- Rev. Howard Ushe
Woolford United ChurchIn 1924 a group of members of the Presbyterian church gathered to get a building at Woolford for a community hall and a church. In 1926 a building was started with Mr. Brack as superintendent and Mr. Woolford as assistant. The teachers were Mrs. Dower, Mrs. Knight, and Mrs. Crabtree with Maxine Wood as secretary.
In 1930 the deed was turned over to the United Church. George Briggs was janitor and was paid $.50 a week. During the summer months it was decided that it cost too much to have a janitor so the members did the cleaning.
The Woolford church was closed in 1967. Mr. Brack was superintendent of the Sunday School all but three years of that time. Others were Mrs. Dower, Raymond Christie and Mr. M. Stapelton.
The Woolford Ladies Aid was very active in the church and without it the minister could never have been paid. In 1937 the first chicken supper was held. Proceeds were $14.40; supper $.30 and pie $.05.
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