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2012 Anniversary Vignette #4

Building Chalmers Presbyterian Church – I


        The 1907 Annual Report of Bank Street Presbyterian Church noted that increasing numbers of church members were residing at greater distances from the church.  Other factors subsequently mentioned as threatening church attendance were the disruption caused by passing street cars and the limited seating capacity of the sanctuary.  In response to this concern, the Managing Committee of Bank Street Church appointed a committee of six early in 1909 “to consider the question of securing another site”.



Three members of the Special Committee elected to locate a new site for the Congregation of Bank Street Presbyterian Church [Ottawa Journal, 1912]; the other members were Wm Stewart, J.H. Dewar, and Neil McKinnon.

 The “Special Committee” moved expeditiously to fulfill its mandate:

-    Two locations at the corner of Cooper and Kent Streets were selected but abandoned because of difficulty in securing options to buy from the owners. 

-    Options were placed on three lots at the north-west corner of Cooper and O’Connor Streets and half of a lot on Lisgar Street.

-    The Managing Committee unanimously approved the proposal to purchase these 3 and a half lots at a total cost of $36,000 on 29 March 1909.

       -    On 12 April 1909, the Congregation approved the purchase of the new church site with only              two members dissenting.  Motions were also passed authorizing the Trustees to obtain the                  necessary mortgage  and requesting permission from the Presbytery to proceed with the                  several steps necessary to build a new church.


The plan to sell Bank Street Presbyterian Church and to erect a new church at Cooper and O’Connor was approved at the May meeting of the Ottawa Presbytery.   In June, 1909, a mortgage of $45,000 was arranged and the 3 and a half lots were purchased.  However, for the next 2 and a half years there was no substantial activity on the project.  

There were two apparent reasons for this delay: 

        1.                   The Bank Street Church property remained unsold during this 2 and a half year period.  An offer was discussed by the Managing Committee in April, 2010 but was not mentioned in later minutes of the Committee.  It is not known if this was the offer mentioned a newspaper item on the topic:  “[One] sale was well-nigh completed when the churchmen found that the church was to be used a nickel theatre and the deal was frustrated” [Ottawa Free Press, 29 January 1912].  In October 1910, the Managing Committee decided to reduce the asking price for the Bank Street Church property to $100,000. 


              2.                   Possible merger with other congregations.  In April 1909, Rev. J.H. Turnbull reported to the Managing Committee that a joint meeting of the Sessions of Knox and Banks Street Churches had been suggested.  When a possible union of the two congregations was raised again by Rev. Turnbull
in November 1911, the Bank Street Session and Managing Committee approved the idea in principle.  In December 1911, there were joint meetings of representatives from the two churches.   Descriptions of these meetings are not recorded, but on December 26, the Bank Street Session and Managing Committee passed a motion resolving “That we proceed no further in the matter at the present time” due to “differences in the point of view and opinion of the two … negotiating bodies”.

The prospects for a new church at Cooper and O’Connor were to improve dramatically in 1912, as will be described in Vignette #5.