Desbarats United Church
Desbarats United Church was built in 1898 by a Presbyterian congregation. The land was donated by Mr. L.O. Armstrong of the Dusset Mining Company, and a colonization agent for the Canadian Pacific Railway. The Home Missions Board donated money to assist in the building. The timber was cut locally by the early pioneers and the church was built mostly by volunteer labour under the supervision of Richard Shaughnessy, carpenter. A box stove provided the heat and coal-oil lamps illuminated the cosy church on Sunday evenings when most of the services were held. The congregation assembled on wooden planks and, in the beginning, without an organ. Hymns were started by a member of the congregation known as the "presenter".
In 1925 this congregation joined in the general union to become part of The United Church of Canada. In 1938 the pastoral charge included Bruce Mines, Portlock and Desbarats. In the 1950-52 era the Portlock church was closed and the congregation divided between Bruce Mines and Desbarats.
It became apparent that additional room was a necessity, so while The Rev. Harry Denning was the minister the sod was turned for the addition. This, too, was built by volunteer labour. Large folding doors separate the two buildings and these can be opened to enlarge the church’s capacity. More members were added when the Gordon Lake church closed in March 1963.
Work inside and outside the church has continued. During the period of 1969 to 1971 five stained glass windows in memory of a daughter and the parents of church members were installed in the sanctuary. New siding in 1980 was a welcome improvement. The 85th Anniversary Project in 1983 was the construction of a kitchen, washrooms, storage room, and accessibility ramp for physically disabled persons. Since 1984 cupboards have completed the kitchen project and new glass doors have allowed the beauty of the wooden entrance doors to shine through. In 1986 through generous memorial donations a Classic church organ was acquired.
1988 will be the 90th anniversary of this congregation, and even though many of the little churches are closing their doors the Desbarats congregation is maintaining a substantial membership. We are a friendly and active church with Sunday school, choir, and U.C.W. an annual turkey dinner in August is a very popular and highly successful event for our U.C.W. and our community. If you are in the area at 9:15 any Sunday morning, please come and worship with us.