Local historic church begins 125th celebration
by Sandy Lindsay

August 16, 2015

First Nations

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Kevin Hart, DLM welcomed visitors

Lorraine Kewaquom rings the bell

Historic Wesley United Church at Saugeen First Nation near Southampton, Ontario, is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year.

The celebration began today, August 16th, with the ringing of the bell by several dignitaries including former Reverend Eleanor Russ.

The church overlooks the Saugeen River that empties into Lake Huron, and the 'flats' lining the shore is where the last major battle between the Ojibwe and their long-time foe, the Iroquois took place.

Wesley United is also the oldest, continuously operating church in this part of the province.  Inside, the main focal point is a cross made of unpeeled birch logs and is a tie between the church's mission and nature.

The church is the site of the last surrender in Southern Ontario by 'Indians'.  On October 13th, 1854, most of what is now the Bruce Peninsula was ceded in a surrender that granted the First Nations and their descendants the money from the sale of the land to the settlers.  Fourteen chiefs and councilors and Lawrence Oliphant, Secretary General of Indian Affairs, signed the historic document.


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Roy McManus entertains during the opening ceremony

Today the lands surrounding the church, including the renowned amphitheatre, are undergoing a complete reformation with dry stone-walling.

The technique, long known in the United Kingdom and Europe, is now being undertaken by the Saugeen First Nation as a training program to learn the art of dry-walling.

The women of Wesley United Church have also begun a fundraising campaign for the church that will feature a variety of events throughout this year.

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Sunday, August 23, 2015