Richly rooted in Canadian history, the beautiful little Anglican Church in Riverside Heights stands as a monument to the staying power of the strong United Empire Loyalist stock who arrived on the nearby shores of the old St. Lawrence River in 1784. This church building, was built 100 years ago, the gift of Edwin Canfield Whitney and his wife, Sarah (Crysler) Whitney. Originally constructed on the site of an 1835 church, which in turn had been built on the site of an earlier 1792 church, this tiny architectural gem was saved from the ravages of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1957, and re-constructed nearby on its present site.
From the beginning, the story of the Christians who have worshipped in these buildings, and in the adjacent sister Lutheran churches, has been closely linked with the history of Upper Canada, with the struggle to blend a nation of people from many backgrounds, and with the challenges of living off the land, making a living, establishing communities, and becoming prosperous. Often times, it has seemed that the story would end in failure, but the little churches of Riverside have survived and stand firm, ready to continue to be the houses where God’s people worship and from where they go forth in service to their Lord.
When I arrived in this parish in 1996, I began to hear the stories of the history of the Riverside churches. I say “stories”, because clearly, there was not one story, but several. What was particularly intriguing was the fact that there is significant disagreement between the stories. Since then, I have been trying to find out the real story. I dare not be so bold as to say I have uncovered all that is true but I have found some new information which I have not seen published before. This humble effort does not presume to be the definitive story, but hopefully, it will be another step in discovering the real story. I pray that it will not be a source of further confusion!
I am indebted to those who have carefully, and to the best of their ability, recorded the stories as they have believed them to be true. That is all any of us can hope to do. I am also indebted to those who carefully preserve valuable archival material. In particular, I want to say thank you to the staff of the Archives of the Anglican Diocese of Ottawa, where much of the valuable primary documentation is housed. I am also thankful for the good people of Holy Trinity who have encouraged me to write this account of the story of their Church. It is not the exhaustive story of the people who have been the members of this congregation but they are included. Time has not permitted me to research all the family histories and all the personal involvement of the faithful.
May this effort be to the glory of God and further the work of the Kingdom here in this place. The Rev. William R. Byers, Incumbent (retired) May 26, 2002