"We the undersigned inhabitants of the Township of Georgina humbly beg leave to your Excellency that at present we are without any place of public worship, burial grounds or school house"
This 1834 appeal to the Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada expressed the spiritual longing of the settlers. It arose as they built their homesteads along the south shore of Lake Simcoe. These settlers had been holding Sunday services in their homes for some time.
Even this entreaty did not bring results. However, the local people at considerable personal sacrifice, aided by donations from English and Scottish benefactors, finished the wood and plaster church by 1839. The first place of worship in the area, it was consecrated in 1843 by Bishop Strachan, the first Bishop of Toronto. The cemetery provides a resting place for many who were instrumental in building the original church and for their descendants.
This church was replaced by the beautiful stone church now found on the site. It has remained an important part of the religious life of the community and its many visitors. It was built in memory of Susan Sibbald, late of Eildon Hall, by her three sons, Thomas, Hugh and Frank. It was consecrated and first used for worship on July 24th, 1877.
Enter the St. George's Church property through the lych (1878) gate. A typical English country church provides this roofed gateway to a churchyard.
This church, built in Gothic style in 1876-7, replaced the original wooden church built in 1839. The stone church architects were Gavillais and Thompson of Barrie, Ontario. Captain Tom Sibbald supervised the building of the church and local craftsmen did the actual building.
The east window above the Communion Table was hand painted in England by some of the daughters of Governor Simcoe. Elizabeth Simcoe, the mother of the girls, and Susan Sibbald were friends from their schooldays. the window was first installed in the original St. George's in 1845, then was carefully moved into the new church. The side windows are stencilled and painted.
The gilded wooden Celtic Cross on the altar was given by the Rev. Harold McCausland, rector from 1920-23. This cross was used by Mr. McCausland during his chaplaincy services in World War 1. Originally it was part of the processional cross (1850s) of St. Philip's Church, London, England.
The west window shows the triumphant figure of St. George slaying the dragon, representing the victory of right over might, symbolic of the overthrow of tyranny. It is dedicated to the memory of Lt. G.J. Brichta. RFC, killed over France in 1917, and his son, W/O Philip S. Brichta, killed over Germany in 1943. The silver-cross wife and mother was Anne Mossington, a descendant of an original pioneer family. The window also remembers Philip's friend and fellow aviator, J.D.B. Ulrichsen, listed missing in action in 1943. He was a nephew of Stephen Leacock.
The vestibule window was given in memory of Mazo de la Roche, Canadian novelist. It depicts St. Francis of Assisi, representing the theme of our responsibility to protect and preserve God's creatures.
The memorial brasses found on the interior walls are a traditional way of remembering members of the congregation who have passed away.
The Rev. George Everest designed and carved the altar, pulpit, reading desk and hymn board. A local artisan, we believe a Mr. Ward, did the other carvings. The wheat and grapes pattern reminds us of the comfort of Holy Communion.
The cast iron work at the end of the pews represents an art form of the period in which the church was built. Pew 19 was where Stephen Leacock, as a boy, worshipped with his family.
The Christening Font is found in the corner opposite the entrance. This location near the entrance of the church symbolizes the beginning of Christian life through baptism.
The hangings on the altar change with the Christian seasons. The red hangings used on Pentecost, Saints Days and Anniversaries, are the oldest hangings and were probably made in the late 19th century.
In 1944-49 the tower was rebuilt and reduced in height because of structural deterioration. The original weather vane and base had been previously removed. The gargoyles are a symbols of evil being expelled by the Gospel. The gargoyles (in this case rams' heads) are used as water spouts.
The cross on the west roof peak is a Celtic Cross which has a circle to signify eternity.
The Bourchier memorials are built into the north side of the church. They were placed there when the stone church was erected over part of the original cemetery. Captain William Bourchier was an original land grantee in the area in 1819. He contributed lumber to build the 1839 original church.
Today St. George's and its picturesque grounds continue to serve as a spiritual, historical and cultural centre for the community. Visitors are welcome at all services. Visitors are also invited to sit in silence, to pray and to use the prayer desk book to request prayers.