War of 1812 Showcased at Church Event

May 27, 2013
By Roxanne Delage

Cornwall Ontario – The history of St John’s Presbyterian Church, its elders and members’ involvement in the War of 1812 was commemorated on Sunday, with the dedication of a memorial plaque.

“It was a mission of the heart,” said John McMartin, a church elder, who spearheaded the project. “As a history person, I love the history of this place. We wanted to commemorate elders serving in the war.”

The first of three church buildings of St John’s was a log cabin at 159 Pitt Street, where the Bank of Montreal is currently located. It was claimed by the British and used as a barrack by their troops. As well, church elders and members served in the war. Among the church elders and members who served in the war was Archibald McLean, serving with distinction, with Sir Isaac Brock who was responsible for defending Upper Canada (now Ontario) against the United States.

The commemoration was supposed to have occurred during St John’s 225th anniversary celebrations, last year, explained McMartin, but because of a lack of funding, it had to be postponed. The ball began rolling again when it was learned that the Government of Canada was offering grants to commemorate the event, of which St John’s received $5300.

On behalf of the Kaneb family, William Kaneb donated an undisclosed amount toward the difference needed for the $9000 project.

“It’s an honour to remember the history of our country, because it was built on the foundation, ‘one God one nation,’” said Reverend Ruth Draffin. “It’s nice to have a historic plaque outside our church.”

A portion of the plaque reads, “Founded in 1787 by the well-known Scot, the Reverend John Bethune, St John’s Presbyterian Church and its people played an important role in the preservation of Canadian land.”

On the bottom of the plaque is the symbol of the Presbyterian Church of Canada – the burning bush, with the words “burning but not consumed.”

“This represents a generosity on the part of individuals and groups that allowed this to come to fruition,” said McMartin. “I’m so honoured by all of it.”

Invited guests to the event included MP Guy Lauzon, Mayor Bob Kilger, and MPP Jim McDonell. Because of the weather, the ceremony took place inside, however the plaque has a prominent place outside, on the front lawn of the church. A luncheon was served in Caldwell Hall following the ceremony.

The above article was written by Roxanne Delage. You can read more articles written by Roxanne on the Cornwall Seaway News website at

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