1007 Merkley Road
Barkway United Church
Part of Lot 15, Concession 11
Spider Legs Quilt Square
The church structure is much the same it was over 100 years ago. Archival records indicate that there was a congregation in Barkway (“appointment #1” of the Uffington Circuit) in the 1870’s. A missionary in 1880 reported in the Christian Guardian that he had four appointments in Ryde, south of Draper and that the Free Methodists were his most persistent rival.
The church was originally a log church located on Lot 15, Concession 11 in Ryde Township.
In a newspaper article dated March 31, 1949, Florence Rebman noted that the Barkway Church was built in 1882 and that Chief John Bigwin attended when he was at his trapping cabin at the Gartersnake River.
This church has window sills that are approximately a foot in depth. At a later date shiplap siding was added to the exterior, and the interior shows planed lumber which may have been put on when the original structure was built. The interior boards are horizontal with vertical wainscoting. The lumber used inside and out probably came from Samuel Downey’s Mill which was at the pond behind the church.
On June 24, 1899, the trustees of the Barkway Congregation of the Methodist Church namely John Rusk, William Merkley, Henry Long, Jacob Rebman and Samuel Downey acquired the church property from Samuel Downey for one dollar.
The oil lamps, the Windsor back chairs, the organ and the stove are all part of the original furnishings. Pews from the Presbyterian Church in Gravenhurst were added when the Presbyterians renovated their church.
The Barkway United Church celebrated its 115th anniversary in July 1997. Many who attended were descendants of those family names that appeared on the Circuit Register in 1886 – Long, Hacking, Fielding, Heffern, McWade, Downey, Rusk, Ruttan, Rebman, Merkley and others who joined later. The people of Barkway are to be commended for their efforts to maintain the architectural heritage of one of the oldest buildings in the community.
This church was decommissioned on August 9, 2015. This is now privately owned with no public access.