June 10, 1962 – Official Inaugural Service of Dominion Chalmers United Church
Fifty years ago, the Official Inaugural Services of Dominion-Chalmers United Church marked the end of a momentous, sometimes heartbreaking, sixteen months for two of Ottawa’s oldest downtown congregations: Dominion United Church, which originated in 1852 as the Metcalfe Street Methodist Church, and Chalmers United Church, the continuation of the congregation of Bank Street Presbyterian Church formed in 1865 as an outreach of Knox Church.
The sixteen months leading up to June 10, 1962 had been particularly difficult for the congregation of Dominion Church. Their beloved church building at Queen and Metcalfe was completely destroyed by fire on February 04, 1961 (Vignette #6). Within days of the fire, a Building Committee was formed to prepare plans to rebuild on their downtown site. Over the next few months, during which the congregation worshipped first in the Capitol Theatre and then the Ottawa Technical High School, the Building Committee presented at least two plans for rebuilding on theoriginal site; both were unacceptable to a majority of the congregation. At the Annual Meeting of Dominion Church on February 01, 1962, the congregation finally accepted the recommendation of the Building Committee that it would not be feasible to rebuild their church at Queen and Metcalfe. The Building Committee was empowered to explore other possibilities, including a possible merger with another congregation.
Dominion United Church,
Queen & Metcalfe Streets, 1875-1961
Following the fire at Dominion Church in February 1961, Chalmers Church provided meeting space and other facilities for various groups of the Dominion congregation. (Such collaboration between the two congregations was not new; they had been holding joint summer services for several years.) Late in 1961, when the plans for the future of Dominion Church were still unresolved, the Chalmers Session and Official Board invited the Dominion leadership to form at Joint Committee “to discuss the desirability of the two congregations considering a basis for union.” The invitation was accepted most cordially by Dominion Church (Dominion-Chalmers United Church Year Book, 1963).
Chalmers Presbyterian Church, 1912-1925.
Houses occupy the present parking lot
and the site of Woodside Hall/Chapel.
Joint Committee held its first meeting on February 15, 1962. After only two more
meetings of the full
Committee and one meeting
of a drafting
sub-committee, the Joint Committee was able to submit its
the amalgamation of Dominion and Chalmers Churches by March 09, 1962
Vignette binder). At
the report of the Joint Committee was reviewed by the Building
Committee. Based on
the results of a detailed
questionnaire submitted to members of the congregation and their
deliberations, the Building Committee recommended that Dominion Church
the invitation to amalgamate with Chalmers United Church. The Dominion congregation
recommendation by a three to one majority at a special meeting on March
30 (Ottawa Citizen, March 31, 1962); the Chalmers
congregation approved the amalgamation plan “in principle” on April 08
its full approval unanimously after hearing the complete details of the
at a special congregational meeting on April 25 (1963 Year Book).The amalgamation of Dominion and Chalmers
“Dominion-Chalmers United Church” was approved by the Presbytery on
The Inaugural Service of “Dominion-Chalmers United Church” was held on May 06, 1962 and the Official Inaugural Service one month later on June 10 - the 37th Anniversary of the founding of the United Church of Canada (Orders of Service for both can be seen in the Vignette binder). The significance of the amalgamation was captured in the closing words of the account of the events of 1961-1962 in the 1963 Dominion-Chalmers Year Book: “Such is the story … of how two historic congregations in downtown Ottawa resolved to become as one, symbolizing in their own purpose a unity which has been exemplified by the very existence of the United Church of Canada”.
- Ottawa Citizen and Journal, February 02, March 31, 1962
- Report to the Official Boards of Chalmers and Dominion United Church of the Joint Committee. March 09, 1962
- Dominion United Church Building Committee, Report March, 1962
- The Formation of Dominion Chalmers, Dominion-Chalmers United Church Year Book, 1963, pages 42-44