The Kinseys & St Paul's United Church in Hearst, Ontario

While Dr. Albert Kinsey was in Hearst, Ontario for a relatively short time.  He was there for the formulative years when Hearst was beginning to form itself into a town.  While much is known about his role in the area as a medical practitioner and leader, there is a story about how he got involved with the building of the local United Church.

The story is told in "The Story of Hearst":
St Paul's United Church, Hearst, Ontario.

Rev. John A. Irwin, an ordained Presbyterian minister, arrived in Hearst in 1918.  With his portable organ, he conducted Sunday services for 18 years at the Orange Lodge and to followers at private homes in Stavert, Ryland, and Hazel.  During this time, a Sunday school group was organized for the children.

On February 3, 1919, a group of individuals including Dr. A. L Kinsey, Mr. E. T. Howard (Howard was the local pharmacist.  Both he and Kinsey owned the local drug store - Howard Drugs), Mr. & Mrs. Douglas, Mr. & Mrs. G. Brisson and Rev. Irwin gathered to discuss the organization of a Union Church of Presbyterians and Methodists.  By 1920, the congregation had finalized the plans for a new church and construction began.  The manse was completed by the end of the year and church opened on 9 October 1921.  St Paul's United Church, a white clapboard building, built on Ninth Street between Prince and Alexandra Streets was dedicated in 1922 with Rev. Irwin still residing as pastor of the work.
The story of St Paul's and the Kinseys picks up again when Dr. Kinsey's sister Gwynneth gets married there in 1920.  By then Gwenneth Jean Kinsey, 27, had been working in Bracebridge as a stenographer.  Her husband, Wellington Bruce Edey, 24, on the other hand, was working as a railway conductor in nearby Cochrane.

They were married on 30 June 1920 at the white clapboard church in Hearst.  Rev. Irwin officiated while Dr. Kinsey and his aunt, Kate Richardson, were the witnesses.  On the marriage certificate, they stated that they had planned to live in Hearst after the wedding.

While the family connections seem to end there, the story of St Paul's takes and interesting turn in the late 1960s.  Again, we turn to "The Story of Hearst" to see how the story continues:
As numbers in both the Anglican and United Churches dwindled, discussions began (1968) regarding the joining of the two congregations.  Bishop Watton and the Cochrane Presbytery drew up guidelines for the experimental year of collaboration.  With the approval of both congregations, the churches became one, adopting the name of the Anglican and United Church Cooperative Parish.

By 1969, the United Church building was in serious need of repairs but sufficient (funds) were not available.  Renovations were put on hold.  For the next few years, the newly formed congregation held it services in St Mathew's Church.

The early 80's brought the regrettable decision to tear down the church.  But a cry of "NO" rang out through the community of Hearst and many donated what they could to help to save the church from destruction.  With the additional help of a provincial grant, St. Paul's was renovated in 1983.  The joint parish returned to the church in 1989 after a decision was made regarding the "Green Church".  The Cooperative Church houses several stained glass windows as well as a large one which was transferred from St Mathew's upon its de-consecration in 1989.

Today, services continue to be held at the white clapboard church, an institution for the small number of followers within the community.
The Story of Hearst is available online as a pdf file and is an interesting read for those who have connections with Hearst.


  1. I found the story of the early days of St. Paul's Hearst very exciting. St. Paul's is the church I grew up in and the one my parents laboured lovingly for decades to serve. Mom was president of the Ladies Aid, as it was called in those days, and ran an after four programme for young children (Mission Band) for several years. Dad was on the board and served as treasurer for most of the 60+ years he was in Hearst.

    What I found particularly heart warming was the mention of my maternal grandfather, E.T. Howard. I was not aware of his role in the founding of the church. It had never occurred to me that three full generations of Howard/Wests had been associated with St. Paul's.

    Of course my memories are of a later date - 1940-65. In my most recent book of short stories, "Run of the Town: Stories of An Unfettered Youth", reference to the church crops up on several occasions. In one story (aired on CBC Radio) a carload of St. Paul's parishioners comfort a woman who has just lost her husband by singing the hymns they've learned by heart at church. In another (also aired on CBC)its 1944 and Rev. Carter is attempting to convince a mother with two sons serving overseas to open the telegram she's just received. She refuses, "to do so would be like choosing which son," she says. "How could a mother do that?"

    Thanks for the info and opportunity to comment.

    Terry West


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