History of St John's
St. John's Anglican Church, like so many other Canadian churches, had its beginnings in the homes of pioneer settlers. Those settling along the military road between York (now Toronto) and Penetanguishene were served in homes by traveling preachers. Thomas Craig settled in Medonte about 1819. Services and baptisms were carried out at the Craig home from about 1833.
In 1846, his son John donated land for the erection of an Anglican Church and burial ground on lot 40 in Oro. The brick portion of our building was constructed in 1884 just south of where the original church and cemetary were located. The wardens were proud to state that all debt was clear before the first services were held. Bricks left over were given to the Methodists to use in their church in the village.
Over the years many gifts, including the Apostle murals in the chancel by Mr P Browne, and the stained glass windows and door have added to the beauty of the building.
Through many generous financial donations as well as countless gifts of time and talent, the new board and batten addition and renovations to our hall were completed in January 2009.
We look back with love and respect to those who laboured lovingly, often in adverse conditions, to provide a place of worship for the Anglican community.
Today, St. John's is a vital and energetic part of the Anglican Communion and of the life in and around Craighurst. As we strive to maintain that sense of community and hospitality, we welcome you.
St John's Anglican Cemetary
On February 6th, 1846 John Craig of Medonte township conveyed to John, Lord Bishop of Toronto part of lot 40 on the east side of the Penetanguishene Road in the first concession of Oro Township for the use of a church of the United Church of England and Ireland to be erected on the said parcel of land, and for the burial ground in connection herewith.Ē (Excerpt from the original deed)
Anglican Church services were held at the home of John Craig as early as 1833 by Adam Elliot. In 1845, Rev. George Bourn, of Simcoe District Travelling Mission held services on the first Sunday of each month in the Craig home, at 10 oíclock. The people were preparing to build a church on the lot of land given for that purpose by John Craig. Rev. Bourn reported that logs for the building were squared and on the ground, that the church would soon be erected and that the congregation was on the increase. This first church of log construction stood just north of the present church which was subsequently built in 1885.
Thomas Craig, 1772-1840, and Elizabeth Craig, 1773-1839, the parents of John were originally buried at their home farm, a custom that was not unusual at the time. When St. Johnís cemetery was opened, the remains were exhumed and buried at St. Johnís, being the first burial at this cemetery. The tombstone is the oldest in the cemetery and is found to the left of the cemetery as you enter the cemetery. Thomas and Elizabeth are the great-great-great grandparents of Neil who served as Rectorís Warden and continues to be a lay-reader at the church. Neil for a time also served as Mayor of the amalgamated township of Oro-Medonte.
At a Vestry meeting held in 1852 at St. Johnís, a motion was made that the burial ground be laid out in plots 16 by 12feet and that they be sold to member of the Church of England at the at a price of 10 shillings each.
St. Johnís is one of the earliest burial grounds in the area. The Penetanguishene Road (now Highway 93) was part of the main route from York (now Toronto) to Penetanguishene on Georgian Bay in the early days of development of this vast country.
The cemetery continues to be a community burial ground. Over the years more land was acquired and the layout approved by the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations of Ontario, in accordance with the Cemeteries Act.
The Cemetery Board endeavours to maintain the grounds in a manner appropriate for a burial ground and in accordance with the Cemeteries Act. Each year, as funds permit, a number of older stones are placed on new, permanent foundations resulting in an improvement to safety, reduction in yearly maintenance as well as providing some aesthetic value. The Board is open to suggestions for ground improvements.
Each year a decoration/memorial service is held in the latter part of August.
For further information on availability of interment rights and other information related to the cemetery, please contact the Secretary Treasurer, Allan Sinton, 705-726-5300.