My Memories, Elizabeth Gowans Jolly (also known as Betty Anne)

I was baptized in the church in May 1947. From then on, I was attached to St. Stephen's, and I am still very spiritually attached to it. I went to Sunday School, youth group, girl's auxiliary, sang in the junior and senior choir. I was confirmed, being the last confirmation class with Father Kirby before he left to teach at McGill University. I was married in St. Stephen's in 1972 and my two sons were both baptized by Father Albiston in 1975 and 1977. My Dad was buried there in 1986.

I have been in Edmonton since October 1981 but spent five years in Fort McMurray from 1985-1990. I visit Montreal at least twice a year and always go to St. Stephens on Sunday morning. I have not found a church that makes me feel the way I do when I go to St. Stephen's. Maybe it is because of the thousands of prayers offered up over the many years. It feels so holy!

My friend Allyson Heather and I both attend the Anniversary Sunday as often as we can, and we both still get choked up and can hardly sing when St. Stephen's hymn is played. She calls me such a "Drama Queen" as I describe to her how, in my mind, I walk through the Lych Gate and into the Church and can actually feel like I am really there. I can feel the same emotional bond that I have always felt from being a very young girl.

Allyson and I used to attend Evensong when she was 10 and I was 12 so we could see Father John McNab who was presiding. We went faithfully until he left for Jamaica. We actually loved the service even if John was not there, but he made it so much more interesting, and we adored his lovely Jamaican accent.

To me there will never be another St. Stephen's and when I die, I want to be buried in her graveyard along with many other generations of faithful servants who attended her services and gave her strength and support.

God Bless you, Dear St. Stephen's!

A Letter from a Parishioner, Robert Smith.

Since I have attended St. Stephen's for more than 75 years, I have a wealth of memories. My maternal grandparents, (Ellen and Arthur Leonard) were married at St. Stephen's in 1912 after arriving from England. My mother's sisters and brothers were all married here.

My earliest memory was the frighteningly loud choir. In those days, the men emerged from the room near the entrance and the women from the other side (today's choir room). I sat in the last pew near the exit with my grandparents. I was shocked when the men behind me came out singing loudly; I especially remember Alf Clark and perhaps Ernie Grigsby. Until then I had only attended a Roman Catholic mass with my dad. As I remember it, back then there was no choir but just the priest intoning in Latin near the Altar away in the distance with his back to the congregation.

When we were kids, most of us went to our Church Hall (1148 St. Joseph) for Sunday School. Because there were so many of us on the North side of the train tracks, along William Macdonald many of our Sunday School classes were held at Central Park School on 10th Avenue near Provost Street. The 90-bus used to turn around at 18th avenue on Sundays and it went along Notre-Dame and down 12th Avenue because so many parishioners lived in "the Park" as that part of Lachine north of the tracks was called.

Those were glorious times for churches as it seemed most people attended church. In lower Lachine, there were Grace United, St. Andrews United (which was Presbyterian until 1925), and St. Andrew's Presbyterian which originally met above a bank at the corner of 6th Avenue and Notre-Dame Street.

Our church was full every Sunday and Sidesmen like Bill Sole (of Sole's fish store) and Bert McArdle (AKA Chief Top Leaf) often had to direct people to their pew. It was a great time for John Kirby to arrive and become Rector of St. Stephen's (1944-1959). The church was filled every Sunday at the 9:30 Eucharist. There was also an 8 a.m. said service as well as a 6:30 a.m. service on Wednesdays for people to attend before going to work.

The Parish Hall on St. Joseph (now the property of College Ste. Anne) had constant activities. Sunday School filled the Hall with many classes on Sunday morning. During the week there were Cubs and Scouts and A.A. Periodically, the Players Guild presented plays which were very popular attracting many from outside the Parish. Parishioners not only acted in these productions, but also operated the lights and were stagehands. Parish breakfasts were also held three or four times a year. One hymn we sang recently in Church was "Blest be the Tie that Binds" which was included in the play "Our Town" by Thornton Wilder.

In the summer, we always had Parish picnics at Cap St. Jacques. Five or six buses lined up on St. Joseph to fill up for the trip. We sang the usual silly songs en route and had the same activities like the 3-legged race, and spoon race. The children swam like fish to the worry of our parents. Another summer activity I recall as a Scout. I had the pleasure of attending Camp Tamaracouta with the St. Stephen's troop. Our Scout Master, Harry Grigsby, gave up two weeks of his own time to accompany us to camp. I don't know if we appreciated it at the time, but as adults we came to realize the sacrifice of Harry and his family.

Mr. Kirby often had student priests come to St. Stephen's for a "stage". Parishioners were enlightened by a number of student-priests, especially black ones from the Caribbean. Bob Gardiner (married to Gloria Glasspoole) was once listed as an assistant. John McNab, now deceased, was young and really popular with the young parishioners. The AYPA (Anglican Young Peoples Association) learned how to calypso from the young priest. Father John McNab went on to an impressive career at the Montreal Diocesan Theological College. A Reading Room at the college is named in his honour.

Over the years there were many families at St. Stephen's who contributed so much to its success. Families like Barrettes, Vokeys, Glasspooles, Grigsbys, Clarks, Wentzels, Merchants, Davidsons, Kinnas, Eastwoods, Jim and Edna Mosher, Mary and John Pickup, Manns, Betty Kennedy, Fred Hart, Ann Jean Louis and so on. During the Rev. Dr. John Kirby's time, George Merchant compiled a history of the Parish of St. Stephen's, and it is a source of many historical facts up to the year 1956. I have barely touched on the clergy. Suffice to say Harry Andrews was really popular, especially when he became a Chaplain during the Second World War. John Kirby was a much-loved priest during my youth. Other noteworthy clergy were John Isaacs (1960-1963), Oswald Slattery (1963-1968), who baptized my two daughters; Robert Albiston (1968-1980) who baptized my son. The first woman priest in the Diocese Dr. Lettie James was our priest (1981-1983). She was followed by Roger Robillard (1983-1986), and then Charles Nixon (Autumn 1986-1991. Dr. Holly Ratcliffe was our priest (March 1992-September 1999); followed by Linda Borden Taylor (September 2000-2004), and at the present time Shirley Elmslie Smith. We had a wonderful pastor Canon Jeno Kohner who served us twice as interim (September 1999-September 2000 and again September 2004 until Shirley became priest-in-charge January 1st, 2009). Father Kohner was Shirley's teacher and mentor. Canon Dr. Donald Meloche was an Associate of St. Stephen's. From Easter 2005 until his health would no longer allow; Father Don conducted a service once a month. He shared with us so many heart-warming stories of children and their families he nurtured at the Montreal Children's Hospital where he worked as a full-time Chaplain.

Bob Smith

A Letter from a Parishioner, Maggie Smith.

It is my privilege to write to you in the newsletter. I have so many great memories of St. Stephen's Church.

When St. Paul's closed, we were all devastated. God though had something else in mind on the horizon.

I knew I had to go back to another Anglican Church. I missed the worship and fellowship.

One Sunday I arrived at St. Stephen's. It was my first choice. I talked with Shirley asking her if I had the honour of joining the Church. She gratefully said that only if I would sing in the Choir. Then I said to Mary "Where are the gowns"? That's how it all started.

I met so many wonderful people who very soon became my friends. These friends are still with me now.

Prayers to me are very important. They give me comfort and divine energy. I must admit my next experience was singing in the Choir. It was a very uplifting and happy experience. I felt I wanted to sing to the heavens. Thank you, Bob Laxton, our Choir Director. He gave me so much inspiration to open my heart. We also had many laughs in the Choir room with great Choir members.

I became an Associate for the Sisters of St. John the Divine. Thanks to them I will always have help, strength, and peace. I felt energized reading the scriptures after getting over those difficult words I felt relaxed.

Pizza & Praises was one of my ways of enjoying myself. I enjoyed it tremendously. The books that Shirley read to us were a highlight of the evening.

I have been away from St. Stephen's since March 2021. The memories will always be there. Nobody can take them away from me. With God's help I came through a wonderful journey.

I say a BIG thank you to all of you. My thoughts and prayers are always with you.

Maggie Smith

Memories of St Stephen's.

Received from Monica Mason (aka Twosie, nee Kirby) - Lent Newsletter 2022

My Memories

Jan 5, 2022 Recently I received the St Stephen's newsletter which I always enjoy but this one brought back so many memories that I felt I had to share some of them with those who knew me as a child.

I am the youngest child of Father John Kirby, and the first 13 years of my life were centered around St Stephen's. Whether it was being in the Junior (and then Senior Choir), the special event breakfasts at our hall, the viewing of the Queen's coronation when those who had tv's brought them to the hall so all could watch, the "fashion" shows where the models were men dressed as women and Mr. Eastwood made bouquets out of vegetables and the year I played Tiny Tim and was terrified of Scrooge - even though I knew he was the father of a good friend!

I so remember Bert McArdle in his Rover uniform when he was on duty on Sunday mornings - he always made me feel special and I was so in awe of him. I give both my parents credit for not allowing any form of racism to enter our home and, as a result, we met some very interesting people from other countries - including my dearly beloved brother-in-law John McNab whose funeral I had the privilege of speaking at.

Other Memories: - Grandma Barrett's wonderful baking. - Bill Barrett driving us to appointments before we had a car. - The unforgettable "lych gate" dedication by the mayor of the day. - Parish breakfasts in the hall. - W. A's incredible teas.

I left Quebec many years ago but my memories of it and my time at St Stephen's are old favourites. Thanks for the trip down memory lane - wish I could visit with all of you who impacted my childhood so positively.

Monica Mason (aka Twosie, nee Kirby)

Received from Victoria Theoret - Advent / Christmas Newsletter 2021

My Memories

Throughout the year, leading up to our 200th anniversary, the Anniversary committee has decided to feature perspectives from different parishioners. As a member of that committee, I volunteered myself.

There is such a storied past of our dear Church, I feel as though my memories barely scratch the surface compared to many in this St. Stephen's family.

I was baptized in 1983 and began attending church on a more regular basis in 1986, when I was 3.5 years old. I loved attending Sunday school, even when I started elementary school, I thought it was amazing that I was able to go to school 6 days a week. On my Christmas tree, for decades, hung the many ornaments we made. Reverend Shirley gave up every Sunday morning to teach us, and when she was not able or wanted to attend the service, Mrs. Dawson (who our walkway is dedicated to), took up the reins. I don't remember many of my fellow classmates, as over the years, I seemed to be the one that stuck around, as others came and went.

Finally, I became the Sunday school teacher, probably around year 2000 or maybe 2001 until 2017, when I went back to school and my course work became too heavy. I was blessed with having a few groups of children and young teens that I watched grow and do their confirmation. One of my younger students, now in high school is preparing for her confirmation this spring. Part of my faith lies within watching these kids, and now young adults. While Covid restrictions and life getting in the way, I do not see them as often, it is always a treat when they come to the service. Becoming involved with the Sunday school brought a lot of my faith back, as around the age of 13-14, through high school, I would attend church almost begrudgingly to make my mother happy. While I always loved the people, I had a hard time with blind faith. I am very grateful that I found my way back to loving church, and I give a lot of credit to the children I had the pleasure of teaching.

We are a small but strong membership, I do not really have memories of a packed church, pews filled row by row. I have memories of more intimate relationships, close bonds, and really and truly that of a family. When you walk in on a Sunday morning, and someone asks about your week, or perhaps in my case, about my very bratty schnoodle, I know that they care about the answer.

I look forward to creating more memories with St. Stephen's, as they are stuck with me.

Victoria Theoret, M.A., LLb.

Received from Shirley Smith - Thanksgiving Newsletter 2021

We are asking everyone for their memories of St Stephen's during this 200th Anniversary year.

Here is one of mine:

I would like to retell a touching little story about the bread of life or "Jesus Bread" that happened in the mid-90's. A little girl Joanna, a four years old, attended church with her mother on a Sunday morning in June that happened to be St Stephen's Anniversary Sunday. Joanna's twin brothers were away at Cub camp for the weekend with their dad, one of the Cub leaders. Mary Pickup had made and decorated a fancy Anniversary cake for the special occasion. She designed daisies for the cake using communal hosts for the petals. Joanna and her mother took extra cake home for those who had missed the service and goodies. As her mother drove along with Joanna in her car seat in the back, guarding the precious pieces of cake, a voice said, "these flowers taste like Jesus Bread". Her mother replied, "they are". A few seconds later in a small voice little Joanna whispered "Amen".

The Rev'd Shirley H. Smith

Received from Carol Turkington September 22, 2021

Rev. Shirley asked me to recount my memories of growing up at St. Stephen's. I shall try to list as many as I can with the hope that the readers enjoy them.
My parents, Ernie and Doris Grigsby, were married at St.Stephen's in Sept.1939 and within the next decade, my sister Joyce and I were born. My first visit to church was for my christening, when I was 3 weeks old. I attended Sunday school in the church hall where I had so many friends. The hall was hub of many activities for the parish like plays, Christmas parties, Brownies and Guides, and of course, the revered church bazars. There was always great excitement and I remember the joyous sound of many conversations and laughter. everyone pitching in to help and having a great time.
My parents were involved in many of the church activities. My Dad was Rector's warden, lay reader, on the servers guild and Mum was in the alter guild among others. I remember going with her on some Saturday afternoons to prepare for the Sunday service and cleaning the brass. Oh, the smell of Brasso!
I always liked going to church, the hymns, many still so dear to me. I always liked to attend Evensong, my Dad and Mr. Pike leading the prayers. It is still a favourite of mine, so peaceful.
Christmas was always exciting and I am so pleased to see the creche that I remember as a child, that little bright light shining over Baby Jesus. My sister and cousins, Norma and Gordon Hill and I were in the junior choir, Gordie Glasspool was the crucifer, such a dreamboat I thought. When I was 13 years old, I was confirmed by Bishop Dixon, along with Marion Smith, (Bob's sister) Mary Dumaine, my cousin, Gordon Hill and Tony Jarvis (Lottie's late husband) along with many others. Shortly after, my Dad changed jobs and we moved to Sudbury. After two years, we returned to Quebec, this time to Sherbrooke. That is where my sister and I completed high school and nurses training. Joyce and I were fortunate enough to make 2 trips to travel extensively in Europe before settling in Montreal. In 1968, my parents moved to Pointe Claire but attended church downtown. Sadly, both have died and are buried at St.Stephen's along with my fraternal grandparents. My husband, Brian and I began attending St. Stephen's perhaps 10 years ago (not quite sure) I always find it fascinating to sit quietly and let my memories of the past revisit me. I remember faces of all those whom I met as a child, they are gone now but still live on in this hallowed, beautiful church.
Bob Smith is such a faithful servant, the only link to my past growing up St Stephen's. Brian died 5 years ago, his ashes are buried at St Stephen's where I will eventually rest. I hope this was an enjoyable read and that my deep love of this beautiful church has been relayed to all.

Remembering a Parishioner - Lent 2021

James Mosher - January 19, 1930 - December 1, 2020

Our good friend, Jim Mosher, died on December 1st, 2020 at the age of 90. Jim would have been 91 on January 19th. Because of COVID 19, we were unable to visit him at the residence where he lived lately. He will be buried with his beloved wife Edna (nee Moore) when conditions permit. (Edna died the Autumn 2003). Jim and Edna were wonderful dedicated active parishioners. Edna was an important part of the Altar Guild working diligently with Mavis Wilden and Carol Albiston. She also taught Sunday School along with Mary Sinclair and Shirley. Jim was a jack of all trades who could build or fix anything that needed fixing.

Edna and Jim, Shirley and I has many good times together at Bazaars in the old church hall on St. Joseph Blvd. Jim had a wicked sense of humour and often had us laughing so hard we had tears in our eyes. Jim and I often enjoyed a pint together. He was such a lovable man but I could never forgive him for cheering for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Jim had the last laugh for now as the Leafs beat the Habs in overtime, the opening game of this season last week (week of Jan 11th).

Rest in Peace Old Buddy!

Bob Smith

Memories of St Stephen's. What St. Stephen's Means to Me

My first Sunday at St. Stephen's was absolutely terrifying. I was about seven and had been attending mass at St. Ignatius in N.D.G. for three years. At St. Stephen's I sat in the last pew with my grandparents, Ella and Arthur Leonard. They had come from England and were married at St. Stephen's long ago in 1912! At St. Ignatius the only sound I remember was the priest chanting away up at the distant altar. At St. Stephen's the huge choir (in those days the choir stalls were full); choristers entered from both the choir room and the Sunday School room before processing up the aisle. After that introduction, I got quite used to the choir singing out. At sixteen or seventeen years old, I took over as Crucifer from my Uncle Eric Leonard and sat in the choir with the tenors.

In those glorious times for churches many of our activities centered around the Church. Sunday School, Cubs, Scouts and Guides met in the Church hall (separate on St. Joseph). Our Verger (caretaker) lived in a small apartment above the kitchen at the back of the Hall. The Players' Guild put on two or three productions a year, which were well-attended by neighbouring residents. There were also parties and dances in the Hall and the overworked Verger had to clean up the resulting mess often into the early morning hours.

The Rectory (the large stone house at 1089 St. Joseph, beside the Municipal Parking lot) was another place for some activities. Mrs. Monica Kirby, back in the fifties used to treat the Confirmation Class to toast and brown sugar. Later in Rev'd Holly Ratcliffe's time, (the nineties) Peoples' Warden Norm Shaw organized Parish Barbecues in the backyard of the Rectory, which was right on the banks of the canal. Enjoyable times! Also in Norm's time, he organized Parish lunches at the Topaze, a lovely restaurant on St. Joseph near 20th Avenue. Many of you will remember this place.

Returning to the theme, what St. Stephen's has meant to me...All my uncles and aunts were married at St. Stephen's and all my cousins were baptized here. My brother, Don, in Halifax, married his Korean bride Hyun-Mi at St. Stephen's on my mother's (Eileen) 90th birthday on May 10th, 2005. Don and Hyun-Mi were married by Canon Jeno Kohner. Their reception was held at Les Floralies, Lachine in the Green Activity Room, where Mum was residing at the time. The room was transformed into a lovely reception room that day!

When my Aunt Bea (Beatrice Leonard Jacoban) died, she requested her funeral be held at St. Stephens' even though she had lived for many years on Long Island, New York. The funeral was held on August 13th, 2011, the day before Bea and Georges's would be anniversary. That day ended up being a great family reunion!

Finally, my beloved wife of fifty-eight years was "raised up" by the congregation in 2006 and hopefully will remain Priest-in-Charge until the 200th Anniversary of our historic parish, June 2022.

Bob Smith

The following is taken from the Anniversary Newsletter dated October 2018 and written by Bob Smith.

A Letter of Thanks

Especially at the season of Thanksgiving, we want to be thankful for all the support we receive from shut-ins and people who live "away".

As always, when listing names, we fear accidentally omitting someone. Please let us know if we have inadvertently left you out.

We give thanks to:

Jean Frampton
Wendy Duncan
Joan (Spicer) Readman
Stacey Neale
Flo Parker
Terry Huntington
Brian and Betty Anne (Gowans) Joly
Mary and Robert Sinclair
Maureen Custy
George Luchuk
Marion (Smith) Al Schoots
Barbara McPherson
Heather (Davidson) Therrien
Ruth (Nickless) Darling
Joyce M. Barrett Blackwood
Paula O'Reilly and Steve Mazzarello
June Harris
Father Charles and June Nixon
Lynda Thibault
Richard Turner
Beverly Lynn Besser
Dorothy (Cavell) Simms
Jean M. Duncan
George Wilkinson
Taedra (Harris) St. Pierre
Lorna (Clark) Treich
James Dodd
Harry Grigsby
Marion de Terry
Chris Groulx
Joyce Khadon
Jackie and George Rogers

We also give thanks for the lives of Donald Nickless and Fred Hart, long time member, Warden and supporter who died this past year.

At this time, we should also mention that a plaque was presented by the Old Boys Rover Crew (originated at St Stephen's) in memory of Mary and Moe Hague.

Bob Smith

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