Regretfully, I am in the process of painting this too late.
I had a brainstorm last summer to paint a small window in St. Paul’s Church in Uffington to raise funds for its preservation. I thought I would finish the painting over the Winter and approach the diocese in the Spring with the idea so that we would launch a small fundraiser for when our population is inflated with summer residents. If I had called instead when the idea came to me, perhaps there may have been a chance. For that I will always be regretful. The de-consecration happened last Fall.
I had a conversation with the Archdeacon of the Anglican Church for Muskoka, Dawn Henderson. A lovely, sensitive person, she filled me in on what led to the decision to remove the building. She told me there was simply not enough interest or funds in the small community to fix the foundation under the chancel and replace the floor cross beams which were rotten and needed immediate replacement. This is no small job as the walls need to be supported/braced and the building elevated.
So, when the snow is gone, the church will be torn down and replaced with a memorial tower capped with the original bell. Bracebridge apparently needs more cemetery space and the property will be used for this. The building has already been stripped and the parts distributed to other churches or is being sold for scrap. The baptismal basin is likely headed for Manitoba. There is irony in this because so many fled this little town after the railway passed it by and headed for farms out West. Perhaps it may carry the water that washes the heads of their descendants?
I hope to visit one more time before the building is gone. It is likely that the house in ‘Twilight’, also in Uffington, will share a similar fate. The son of the last owner (see full story) is considering tearing the house down before it becomes a hazard.
These old wooden buildings were never designed for permanence, but because so much of our (Canadian) historic buildings were built quickly and were designed to be purely practical in most cases, our ephemeral heritage is slipping away. Worse, it is alarming how few know or even care. I have the hardest time with that. History is an abstraction learned in school without a living context that should lie in our geography. An elementary school trip to stay overnight in Old Fort York in Toronto in February gave history a context that I never forgot. I did not study art as my major in university – I studied History.