R. W. Shire and Jean Porter in Kelso on Wednesday of this week

On this rock I once built a church

FTLComm - Kelso - Thursday, November 18, 2004

Once it was a village, not a big one, but a village with two elevators, a water tower to give locomotives a drink, a boarding house, Greenbank School, a store, a livery stable, a post office and the centre of the place, a United Church. When I first began remembering things, that rock you see in this picture which was placed there as a monument to the church which once occupied that space beside the yard of the house where my mom and dad and I lived. Our garden was just to the right of this image and a little to the left was the church manse.

The young minister, a single fellow trying to make his way in the world of 1951 had a Model "A" Ford and in our back yard my dad (the guy in the leather jacket) helped the minister overhaul the front end, swapping parts they had from another of a similar vintage and after a day or two, the front wheels were back on his car and he was rumbling around his charge.

Auntie Jean, in the red jacket, got married in that church and I remember it vividly, not so much the wedding itself but her husband, John Porter, had a red two seated roadster he had built and I remember it in our yard the day of the wedding and the overwhelming joy of them clamouring aboard a car with no doors or roof and riding away to a lifetime of joy together.

Contrary to what most people think, a church really isn't a place, a building or even an organisation, it is instead a state of mind. A gradually developing sense of being, an attitude and part of one's self.

The actually building was one of the first structures built in Kelso south of Moosomin some time after the first settlers had moved into the area in 1884. They had come with the building of the CPR as it marched across the prairies. My great grandfather, Andy McVicar was one of those who settled just east of Kelso amidst the Greenbanks, Hambeltons, Porters, Averies and of course the Fisks. Andy was a community leader and I was told, a big wheel in getting such things as the church built. But to me, he was just this great tall man with his white mustache and gnarled fingers (bare handed back catcher for the Manor team) who told my cousin and me stories of the Indians who only lived a few miles to the south and whom he counted as friends and at times of desperation in the early days, rescuers.

My grandfather came on the right boat in 1912 to Kelso and married Andy's daughter Edith and died of cancer in 1949.

But the time for the Kelso church has gone, its feeble structure was tore down and a cousin hauled that big rock in to mark the place where the church of his father and mine once stood.

Though, I remember weddings and funerals in the building with its "V" joint walls and steel braces that held the walls together, those are not "the" church, my church. For me it was in that building that I spent a lifetime, remember for a five year old, a life time is not a long time, as "Auntie Beth" read to me the stories from a marvelous huge volume from the old testament. I still have that book and consider it with such reverence that I can not even open its covers. It was in that book and its stories that the church became a rock. The rock of course as all
Sunday Schoolers know is the apostle Peter, who the man for whom December 25th is named, said that upon this rock (Peter) I will build my church. Nice idea if you are starting your own religion and in reality, we all have to start our own religion and for each of us, we much construct our own personal church. For me, where that rock stands, with the fall sun streaming through the windows, I built my church as Auntie Beth read those stories to me more than half a century ago.

Timothy W. Shire


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Editor : Timothy W. Shire
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