Assembly History: Southwestern Ontario

Donald Munro, a 19-year-old Scotsman, was saved by God’s grace in 1858. He immediately began telling others, but it wasn’t until 1871 that he arrived in southwestern Ontario to visit his brothers in Parkhill and Forest. His preaching in both of these towns brought many to Christ. Up to this point, Donald had not been baptized as a believer, nor did he understand gathering to the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, but he was seeking the Lord’s guidance about these matters.

Lake Shore

Along the south shore of Lake Huron, 5 miles from Forest, was a district known as the Lake Shore. Mr. Munro was invited to visit, staying with Mrs. Alex Johnson, Sr., who many years before was saved in Scotland during the Huguenot movement. A Methodist church building had been built on the Johnson farm, and Mr. Munro preached there for two weeks, with many souls professing salvation. Before the year was out, he returned to Scotland and was baptized by Mr. Donald Ross in Aberdeen, and began to associate with believers in a small assembly in Jarrow.

Returning to Ontario in 1872, Mr. Munro continued preaching the gospel, but now also taught the truths so recently learned concerning baptism and gathering. Soon there were assemblies in the towns of Parkhill and Forest. Along with Lake Shore, these were the earliest assemblies from the so-called “Scottish Movement” to be formed in North America.

At Lake Shore, against the wishes of her mother-in-law (mentioned above) and husband, who came to witness, Flora Johnson was the first to be baptized. The creek was frozen over that March day. Unfazed, she entered the cold water and was immersed by Mr. Munro, who had chopped an opening in the ice. This so encouraged her husband, Hugh, and his mother that they asked if they might be immediately baptized, which the preacher was happy to do.

In 1873, a few believers gathered in the Hugh Johnson farmhouse on the Lord’s Day to remember Him in the breaking of bread. They had learned this from such Scriptures as 1 Corinthians 11:23-26.

As time progressed, the gospel prospered, being preached by Mr. John Smith, young Mr. T. D. W. Muir, and others. Mr. Muir labored extensively in Michigan, making his home in Detroit. Mr. Smith later made his home in Cleveland, Ohio, but during the summers, his family would resort to their cottage on Ipperwash Beach, just a mile from where the first Lake Shore Gospel Hall was built in 1887, at a cost of $362.83.

The assembly at Lake Shore grew to the point that a larger modern facility was needed, which was erected mostly by volunteer labor and opened in 1980. This hall is located on the lot where the former Johnson Methodist building, mentioned above, had been, but for several years was used for apple storage. From 1957-1976, this place known then as the Storage Corner, was used by the brethren for gospel tent meetings. In 1965, this writer was saved during the tent season.

By the grace of God, the assembly at Lake Shore has continued for 145 years, waiting for our Lord’s return and the “shout” as He has promised.

The Sunday school work reaches out to the indigenous people of North America, with a reservation located at Kettle Point. Parents gladly send their children, and families are encouraged to attend, as special community dinners are provided throughout the year.

We seek to spread the gospel, supporting those who labor locally and in foreign fields. Our prayer is that assembly testimony may continue “until He comes.”