Kilbride Church Pump Organ

In the late 1990s, Kilbride United Church was looking to upgrade the Church. One of the suggestions was to sell the pump organ and use the money for the upgrades.

The following was read during the Church service to the congregation to discourage them from selling this historic piece of the Church holdings.

It was a warm fall day. The temperature had reached almost 50 degrees. The colours of fall had just nicely past their prime. It was Friday, October 30, 1914. King George V had been our monarch for the past four years. On the continent, the Allies and the German forces were involved in the first battle of Ypres and the world was in the throes of the First World War.

The pages of the Hamilton spectator were full of war news. The headline that day read, “Black Sea Fleet Sent Against the Sultan.” Those at home could purchase Halloween toffies for $0.19 a pound. Eggs could be purchased for $0.30 a dozen. Interest on a loan was 4.5%. That day anyone with an extra $20 could buy a beautiful brand new Victrola IV their home entertainment. Back at home, the Kilbride Methodist Church sent one of its members on the long journey to Hamilton with a team of horses and a wagon. There were a few cars in the village but no trucks. In those days, the trip to Hamilton was made by going to Carlisle, south on Centre Road to Snake Road in Waterdown. The Clappison’s cut would not be in existence for another seven years. The team of horses would be taken over the Valley Inn Road to York Street to James Street north. The trip would take approximately 3 hours one way. That trip to Hamilton was made to see Thomas Anderson, proprietor of a music store. It was here that that ESTEY Organ, Style 1138 was purchased for the vast sum of $140. The trip home took longer.

In 1914, the choir leader was Mr. Elmer Harbottle and the organist, the former Miss Bertha McArthur. Over the years the organists changed. Mrs. Harbottle was organist for 20 some odd years. Other organists included Dr. McDonald’s wife Florence, Gertie MacArthur, Edith Chisholm (the former Edith Greenlees) and Laura Dixon. Over the years the organ saw a lot of use. In 1967, the new electric organ was purchased for the Church, and it is still played today.

Although I’m a relatively new member of the I feel it would be a shame to sell the organ as was mentioned in the last bulletin. History and Church heritage can never be replaced. We in the Church are trying hard to upgrade it, to bring it into the 21st century. I feel this can be done and still preserve the history. The money from the sale of the organ, whether it be a few hundred or a few thousand, will not go far in the upgrade or upkeep of the church and a valuable part of the church’s history will be lost forever.

It would be a wonderful day, October 30, 2014, to have someone play the then 100 year old organ one more time period. That is only a short 19 years from now. My own girls will be 29 and 27 perhaps it can even be played at their weddings. I would like to urge all members of the Kilbride United Church congregation to make their views known to the Chairman of the Board or the Secretary. The future of our church will mean so much more if we can preserve our past.

Contributing Author: Helen Callaway