On a lovely autumn day last Sunday, a few dozen Westonians gathered on the grounds of St. Phillip’s Anglican Church to learn more about it and the people who lived in Weston. The event was organized by the Weston Historical Society.
Founded in 1828, the church is located at Dixon Road and St. Phillips Road, on the west side of the Humber River. Built in the modern gothic design, the church has a large white cross on its roof, several stunning glass windows (that date back to the eighteen hundreds) and a cemetery.
The original church was built largely out of wood and was sadly destroyed by a fire in 1888. While many of the original fixtures were lost, an organ was saved. A small circle of red stained glass (seen below) was also saved and was incorporated in this one of the new windows when the church was rebuilt 1894.
By 1930, 50 families attended the church and the numbers soon grew. By 1936, the church had electricity.
After our brief tour of the interior of the church, we went outside to tour the cemetery and to learn more about the people who lived and died in Weston.
The stories are fascinating. We were told about the lives of politicians, business people, blacksmiths, doctors, and farmers. We learned about people who lived well into their 80’s and some who sadly died far too young.
The first tombstone we stopped at was of John Conron. Mr. Conron was one of Weston’s earliest councillors, a member of the Conservative party and was one of Weston’s oldest residents (he was 91 years old when he died).
We also learned about the Eagle family (a name familiar to many Westonians) who moved to Weston in 1883 from Brantford. When the family opened the Eagle House so many years ago they could not have known that only a few years later a railroad station would be built close by, helping their business prosper.
There are so many interesting people who rest in St. Phillip’s Anglican cemetery, including dreamers and risk takers like Joseph Griffith, who in the eighteen hundreds left his home in Ireland with his 19-year-old wife, crossed the ocean and found a lovely piece of land close to the Humber River. Mr. Griffith made money as a farmer and lived at Weston Road and Jane Street.
The tombstones are in all shapes and sizes. Some are large and still very much intact; others are faded and almost completely covered by grass. These are the lives I am the most curious about. One can’t help but wonder who these people were., and why they chose to live in Weston.
Perhaps the most unique grave (pictured below) is that of Reverend W.A. Johnson. While we were not told why Reverend Johnson was buried by this elm tree, we did learn that this mighty elm likely was felled because of Dutch elm disease.
The tour lasted roughly an hour and a half. It was well organized and those who attended were left with a wealth of knowledge about Weston’s past. Thank you to Cherri Hurst, Mary Louise Ashbourne, Randle Reid and the rest of the team at the Weston Historical Society for organizing such a great event!