The Broadview assembly celebrated 100 years of testimony on December 29, 2001.
The history of the Christians who have been meeting at Broadview Gospel Hall for the past 100 years goes back to a time following the Toronto Conference of 1888. There was considerable exercise among the Christians living in the east end of the city to see a testimony started there. As a result, Donald Munro, a Scottish evangelist who first came to Toronto in 1875, began Bible readings in a hall at Queen and Boulton Avenue, in October 1890. The next year, evangelists James Kay and R. Jamieson held gospel meetings in the area in the Smith Block. Following these meetings, a testimony began at 639 Queen Street East on September 27, 1891.
As the testimony continued to grow, it was decided to seek more commodious quarters. In 1897 they relocated to Poultons Block, situated at the northwest corner of Queen and Boulton Avenue. It was here that the name East End Gospel Hall was used.
The continued labors and exercise of the saints led to the building of the Gospel Hall on Broadview Avenue. Following gospel tent work by Robert McClintock and Robert Telfer, the testimony moved to its new location at 194 Broadview Avenue where the doors were first opened on December 29, 1901.
There were many noted and gifted evangelists and teachers whose names and efforts, while not mentioned here, were greatly used in the building up and blessing of this testimony. How thankful we are that their record is on high and their labor was not in vain in the Lord (1 Cor 15:58).
We would be remiss, however, if we did not mention one of the more active local Christians in the area at this time, Mr. James Lynn. In his capacity as a letter carrier, he was in the position to know when boats carrying immigrants would arrive. He would visit newcomers to this strange country and invite them to the meetings. Only eternity will reveal how many owe their salvation to this simple ministry. When Robert Telfer was away preaching, it was Mr. Lynn who called regularly at the Telfer home to put out the ashes and do other tasks requiring a mans help. Others can attest to his warm hospitality and other gracious acts of this beloved brother.
Our first commended worker was our brother Albert W. Joyce. His letter of commendation was dated March 22, 1921 and was signed by seven elder brethren. Our brothers labors are well known and he will long be remembered as the founding editor of Truth & Tidings. He was called home January 17, 1982.
Our next commended worker was a sister, Miss Edith Gulston, who began her service for the Lord in Venezuela in 1924 as a teacher in the Christian school, Colegio Evangelico. She is now with the Lord. The assembly also commended Mr. Fred Nugent, who labored in Canada and the United States. Our latest commended worker, and still with us, is our brother Jack Yocum. He was commended November 25, 1978 to work primarily in Metro Toronto and the surrounding area. Our brother Jack was very involved with open-air meetings on Yonge Street for many years. He also organized the large open-air meeting at Toronto City Hall in Nathan Phillips Square in September 1979.
Open-Air and Tract Distribution
From the early records available (1921), the Broadview saints were quite involved in this work. Separate collections were taken for expenses of tracts and for the Gospel Car, which was used in conveying the folks to their open-air outreaches. Like the early saints, we are still quite involved in the distribution of tracts.
Our brother R.W. Hart, who was in our fellowship for several years before his death in October, 1974 in his 93rd year, was very interested in tract distribution and compiled many tracts. His faithful attendance and diligence in this service was an inspiration to the assembly.
For some time, open-air meetings were held on a dead-end street called Napier. However, the homes on Napier, together with other streets in the area, were expropriated for the Don Mount Court Housing Complex, which was built in 1968. For the past 33 years, this has been our prime location for open-air work.
Sunday School and Childrens Work
One of the greatest works for Broadview has always been the work among the boys and girls, whether on Sundays or mid-week night meetings. Who could forget the excitement of a steamship ride, perhaps the Northumberland or the Dalhousie City, across the lake?
As time went on, Broadview lacked sufficient young people to carry on the childrens work (average attendance ran upwards to a couple of hundred boys and girls) and a call went out to others to help in the work. They came from the east and west end of the city to join with the Broadview teachers. Our childrens meetings were called “Happy Hour” for many years, long before the world adopted that term. Now it is the Boys and Girls Bible Hour. The number of children has decreased and we now have sufficient capable teachers in the assembly who continue in the childrens work.
After the Massey Hall Conferences terminated in 1932, Broadview hosted the East End Conference from 1933-1939 before it was moved to the Eastern High School of Commerce.
Our hall, with the large adjoining prayer room, was commodious but perhaps crowded for these gatherings.
There was one occasion that will always be remembered that was very sad and solemn. It was an afternoon meeting in 1939 when, after a session of prayer, our brother William Pinches of Niagara Falls rose to speak. His text was Matthew 18:20. As he started to expound this verse, his very last words were “The two or three that were gathered together there are….” The sentence remained unfinished. This had a profound and sobering effect on the gospel meeting that evening.
What Does the Future Hold?
We know that our God is able to maintain the testimony for His honor and for His glory, regardless of the many changes taking place.
It is rumoured that Don Mount Court might be demolished because of the great costs for maintenance due to deterioration. This is one of the main sources of children for both the Bible Hour and Sunday School.
Stores and residents are changing. Broadview Avenue in the Gerard-Dundas area is now referred to as Chinatown No. 2. How thankful we are that the gospel has been brought to so many through tracts, open-air meetings, and the work with the boys and girls in this needy area.
We know that our God holds the future and perhaps soon our Lord will return. Until that time, pray with us that Broadview will continue to be a light in this community faithfully preaching the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.