Pearen Memorial

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The origins of Pearen Memorial United Church go back to 1890 when a Sunday School was organized in the then vacant homestead of the George Marshall family on what is now Arnold Avenue just off Lambton Avenue.

According to an unsigned article in the 1980 publication, Stories of York, this house was also the site of the first school in the community. In 1892, a two room brick school building with tower and bell was built on Dennis Avenue and the "Sunday School" moved with it.

Quoting from that article: "The school bell also called the Protestant community on Sunday afternoons in the second room of the building. Robert Somerville was the Sunday School Superintendent and his main assistant was his brother-in-law, J.M. Pearen. A great event of Mount Dennis childhood of those days was the annual Christmas tree concert held in this room. Santa Claus, with a voice much like Mr. Pearen's, arrived after much clattering and ringing of sleigh bells outside. His annual announcement, 'I have something for everybody' always brought cheers."

A few years later a service of worship was held in the afternoons, following the Sunday School, but it was not until 1903, that the Mount Dennis Methodist Church was formally founded, several years before the nearby Anglican (1911) and Presbyterian (1913) Churches. The first meeting of the Trustees was held that year in the home of the Rev. James Pearen, a Methodist Minister superannuated because of ill health, who had come to the community and who donated the site for the church. Mr. John Pordage and Mr. George Pigott canvassed the neighbourhood and the congregation was organized in 1904. An entry from the Treasurer's book shows that weekly offerings for the whole year amounted to $56.05.

On August 23rd, 1904, at a cost of $3,400, the building of the church began on the north side of Eglinton Avenue just west of Weston Road and was completed and dedicated on September 1905 as "Mount Dennis Methodist Church".

Gertie and Silas Crocker, arrived from Newfoundland in December 1920. They settled in a house on Lambton Avenue directly across from the home of Isabelle Irons. Mrs. Crocker lost no time in looking for a church and the following week joined Pearen Memorial by transfer from her home church in Newfoundland. She immediately became involved in church work and continued for the rest of her life. In an interview with Contact for a 1975 article, she recalled that there were no pews in the original building, just chairs, and that there was a wood burning stove at the front. While an addition was being made to the church she and the other members worshipped in the old Fire Hall on Hollis Avenue.

Membership grew to over 500 during the 1950's with many very active groups and clubs. The church was truly a social centre of the community at that time. Unfortunately, the church property was expropriated by Metro Toronto in 1960 in order to allow for the widening and realignment of the Eglinton/Weston Road intersection. However, this event along with the untimely death of the Rev. A.J. Eagle at Chalmers, provided the impetus for the union which became Mount Dennis United Church.

The Pearen Room was named at the time of the dedication of the new church building in June of 1965. The history and many years of Christian service of the former Pearen Congregation continue as an integral part of Mount Dennis United Church.

NOTES:

The corner stone of the Pearen Memorial building has been placed in a wall at the front of the Memorial Chapel of the Mount Dennis building.

Also in the Memorial Chapel, is the Pulpit taken from the sanctuary of the Pearen building as well as the original memorial plaques containing the names of those who served and those who gave their lives in the World Wars of 1914-1918 and 1939-1945.