The History of the First Pentecostal Church in Peterborough, Ontario - The History of Northview Pentecostal Church
The First Fifty Years
by: Gladys Asling (Charter Member & Church Historian) document prepared in 1980
A number of years prior to 1929 there had been meetings of the same nature as the Pentecostal movement held in a hall on Water Street.
According to a few who attended, they were conducted by Rev. Harvey McAllister and a Mr. Sternagle of the United States. Apparently these meetings were discontinued, as there was no Pentecostal work in Peterborough when we started to tarry for the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. A few (Lewis Parks, Eva Wall, Gladys Asling) had been in contact with Pentecost at Evangel Temple while attending Bible College in Toronto.
In 1929, the Head Office of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada sent evangelists Mr. & Mrs. Ray Watson to hold a two week campaign in the old Opera House. Very few claimed to be saved and only one man, William Robbins, received the Baptism. Head Office decided that because of the minimal results and the large expenditure it was not feasible to start a work here.
It was at this crucial time that Miss Beatrice Sims came under compulsion from the Lord and through her teachings we were more established in the doctrines of the Pentecostal movement and our desire for more of God was deepened. She challenged us that we should not turn back from the light we had received. We had prayer meetings at 220 Brock Street in a large barn with a couple of rooms at one end. The place had formerly been used by a doctor and also as the residence of an ostler. The largest room where we met held not more than twenty people.
The following summer Allan Mallory came and he tried to secure a larger place but was unsuccessful, so we continued to pray in the barn. A few of us went to Toronto to Evangel Temple and tarried in the prayer room there, but no one received the Baptism. None of us had ever seen anyone filled with the Holy Spirit so we did not understand how to receive.
In October, 1930 there was a lady from London, Ontario staying at Mrs. Magee's home and she told her of the wonderful moving of the Spirit in the meetings at London, so five of our group (Sister Magee, her daughters Doreen and Leone, Mrs. Aikin and her son Bruce) went to London for Thanksgiving where four of them received their Baptism. They came back quite enthusiastic and sent for Bro. Chambers who was then General Superintendent of the P.A.O.C. At his first meeting on November 19th, several people including Eva Wall received the Baptism. The next night, following Bro. Chambers' sermon, Gladys Asling received the Baptism along with a few more.
As word of the Lord's workings spread, others came and soon our meeting place was too small. We moved to an upstairs room in the Bradburn Building at 332 1/2 George Street between Simcoe and Charlotte Streets.Until this time we had continued to attend our former churches, but opposition became so intense that it was decided to make a break. Bro. Chambers could not come back until January, 1931, so the work was not officially opened until then.
Our first meeting in the hall on George Street did not look very promising as only thirteen attended the morning service. Some were not fully convinced that the initial evidence of the Baptism was speaking in tongues and were not yet ready to join us. However, as the Lord continued to bless and people in other churches heard the news, the membership continued to grow and the little hall that held about 120 people was soon filled to capacity. Bro. Chambers stayed in several homes until the church was established. Then Mrs. Chambers came and they set up their home at 277 Stewart St.
In the little hall on George Street we witnessed the moving of the Spirit on many who came. The first one to receive here was Mrs. Wm. Sutherland to whom the Lord had witnessed in a vision of the latter rain falling on her. When she received her Baptism, she told us how the Lord had prepared her for it. Some nights there were as many as ten received atone time and as the Lord continued to work, people continued to come from the different churches - from the Missionary Alliance, the Standard Mission, the Free Methodist, Park Street Baptist, the Brethren, the Anglican and a few from the Catholic Church, and many later from the United Churches.
1931-33 The time had come to launch out in our services so the old Regent Theatre on Hunter Street was rented for our Sunday night services. Many new ones came to these services and became interested. We had many good ministers and teachers ministering to us during this time as Bro. Chambers had not yet resigned his position as General Superintendent.
Our first meeting with Pentecostal missionaries was in the George Street hall with Sisters Pemberton and Siemans from the British West Indies, and with them came one of their converts, a young man by the name of Winston Nunes. He stayed in Peterborough for a short time and helped in children's meetings and in other services and later went to Toronto.
During the summer of 1932 the meetings were held in a tent at the southeast corner of Sherbrooke and George Streets. We had many evangelistic campaigns with well-known evangelists from Canada and the United States.
Our next move was from the Regent Theatre to the Legion Hall on Murray Street where Sunday services were held. Week night meetings, Tuesdays and Thursdays, continued in the George Street hall. Many came, were saved, and received their Baptism. At this time a Young People's group was formed. The Sunday School had been started in the George Street hall under the leadership of Lew Parks and it continued to grow in the Legion Hall under Frank Robinson's leadership. There were about forty to fifty young people who went to neighbouring communities to witness in open-air meetings. Many of these places, such as Havelock, Norwood, Omemee, Millbrook , Marmora and Campbellford, now have established works.
In September 1933, while C.M. Ward was here holding services in the Legion Hall, he and some of the members decided to look for a building that could be purchased for a church, where there would be freedom to tarry and worship as we desired. When Bro. Ward saw the building at
370 Water Street, which was later to be our church, he said to the group with him, "I believe the Lord wants you to have this building". Later in 1933 Bro. Chambers stepped out in faith and purchased it for the sum of $11,000.00. An additional $6,000.00 was required for renovations. At the height of the Depression, $17,000 was an enormous sum. The Lord enabled us to meet all payments and we were able also to help a great many needy people.
In January, 1934, the new church on Water Street, the Full Gospel Pentecostal Church, was opened for services. It seated about 500 and during special services was nearly always overcrowded. Our first special speaker was W.E. McAllister. Later we had an evangelistic campaign with Bro. Draffin.
In the summer of 1934 a lot was rented on the west end of Sherbrooke Street where we had our first camp meeting. A well-known evangelist, Rev. Fred Squire, came from England as special speaker. Many received their Baptism and some were healed during these camp meetings. Everyone stayed intents and the services were held in a large tent.
In 1935 Bro. Chambers, as District Superintendent, was able to purchase a large farm on the lakeshore east of Cobourg as the site for a permanent camp. One of the large horse barns was renovated for services and several buildings were erected with the help of many of the brethren in the district.The Peterborough congregation generously contributed finances and volunteer labour. The Lakeshore Pentecostal Camp was opened in 1936. It has since grown into one of the best church camps in Canada. When CHEX radio station began broadcasting in Peterborough in 1942, ours was one of the firstchurches to go on the air. The half-hour "Glad Tidings" program was aired Sunday afternoons.
Bro. Chambers retired from the Pentecostal assembly in 1943. Due to a separation of some of the members, the numbers were greatly reduced. At the time, this seemed like a tragedy, but during the following years many who had stayed in the background with their talents were used and trained for the new orchestra and new radio choir that were formed. In 1943 Bro. Hugh McAllister came to take charge and during his stay the parsonage at 194 London Street was purchased. This was seen as a great undertaking by some who looked with gloom on the ability of those who were left in the membership to pay this debt. But Lord also undertook in this and enabled us to complete the payments.
In 1945 Bro. McAllister was called to the Stone Church in Toronto. For a time we were left without a pastor, until Bro. Elmor Morrison, who was home on furlough from China, came to supply for one year. During this year we had our first W.M.C. meeting at the parsonage under the leadership of Sister Morrison.
Bro. Wilbur Greenwood came as our pastor in 1946. Under his ministry the properties for both the Dublin Street and Calvary Churches were acquired. He also started negotiations to purchase the old Nichols Hospital for use it as a Bible School.
In 1950 Bro. Fred Parlee came from the Maritimes to be our pastor. Late in 1950 Margaret Cantwell, our first full-time missionary, left for service in Kenya, East Africa. The Bible School was transferred from Toronto to Peterborough and the Eastern Pentecostal Bible College opened its doors in 1951. With the influx of students our facilities became overcrowded, so a church building was erected at 171 Dublin Street and opened in 1952. The Water Street property sold for approximately $30,000.00.
In 1953 a parsonage-type church was built at 595 Arndon Avenue and used as a branch Sunday School. As attendance grew, it was decided to start church services with their first pastor being Bro. Vern O'Brien.
In 1957 Bro. Parlee was called to take over the pastorate of the Stone Church (in Toronto) and Bro. James Stevenson came from Renfrew to pastor here. During his stay most of the debt on the new church was paid. In 1963, Calvary dedicated their new sanctuary which is located next to the original parsonage church.
In 1966 Bro. Ernest Francis came from British Columbia to assume the pastorate. At the same time a new parsonage at 1379 Leighton Road was purchased. In 1968 the mortgage on the Dublin Street church was burned. A home-coming banquet was held. Former pastors W.B. Greenwood and F. Parlee, and full-time workers Bob Cunningham, Fred Spring, and Ron Stevens attended. In 1970 we celebrated the 40th anniversary with special services. In 1973 Bro. Francis left to become President of North West Bible College in Edmonton.
Bro. Sam Buick became our pastor in 1973. In 1977 the work in Bridgenorth was begun. Our church assisted financially for a while. In 1977 Bro. Buick accepted a position at Head Office.
Following Bro. Buick, Bro. Paul Starratt from Orangeville accepted the pastorate. In 1978, 22 acres at the corner of Towerhill Road and Fairbairn Street were purchased. In 1979 a tent crusade with evangelist Peter Youngren was held on this site. Margaret Cantwell returned from Africa after 29 years of missionary service there.
In October, 1980 the Bridgenorth assemblies dedicated the Causeway Christian Church in Ennismore.
In July, 1980 a sod-turning ceremony for the new church took place and construction is now well underway. We look forward to an expanded ministry when we move to our new church complex, Northview Pentecostal Church, in 1981.