Holiness Movement in Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec
and the STURGEON family
July 25, 2007:
My name is Brian Sturgeon. I live in Cornwall Ontario. I came across a booklet
called “The Root”. It was published in Ottawa by HOLINESS MOVEMENT PUBLISHING
HOUSE, 480 BANK STREET in 1904. (Howard’s Pawn Shop is now located where the
Publishing House was first established.)
It is comprised of FIVE SERMONS PREACHED AT THE CAMP-MEETING AT YARKER, ONT.,
IN MAY, 1904. BY REV. R. C. HORNER.
I believe my ancestors had connections with the movement in the Clarendon /
Shawville area. The booklet was found in the home of the 2nd wife of my grand
uncle Henry Howard Sturgeon 1889-1958. Aunt Claire Sturgeon 1900-1997. She
taught Sunday school at the local Zion Church in Clarendon Front and lived
on the original Sturgeon homestead located in Clarendon Front, Pontiac Co.,
Quebec. During a visit to the homestead in the late ‘90s, the book and two
bibles were given to me by to present owner of the farm.
I am trying to find out more information on the HOLINESS MOVEMENT. There does
not seem to be any copyright in the booklet and I have found no record (so far)
on any other existing publications or copies. I would like to re-publish a
few copies that I have scanned into my computer.
I would appreciate any information on this subject you may have.
I can be contacted at email@example.com
... Brian Sturgeon
Good morning, Mr. Sturgeon:
Thanks for your e-mail.
I believe that the Holy Name Society for Men, formed in Toronto c. 1900, was the
beginning of the Holiness Movement in Canada. It was an evangelical Protestant
organization, organized along the structure of the Methodist Church -- it had Revival
Meetings and Camp Meetings, similar to the early Methodists. It was in operation in
the United States before the Civil War.
I don't know a lot about it, but it would be interesting to find out more.
With your permission, I'd like to start a new web page on our site, based on your
e-mail -- then we may hear from others who may be able to give us more background
material. Please let me know if this is OK with you.
There is some mention of the Holiness Movement in "A Concise History of Christianity
in Canada" by Murphy and Perin (see our Bibliography) and also in
a book "Concise Dictionary of Christianity in America) edited by Daniel Reid, and
Also, the book, The Democratization of Christianity in America, written by
Nathan Hatch includes more information regarding the establishment of the
decentralization of Christianity and the movements which tried to bring the churches
closer to the people by using common folk (not trained at a seminary) as preachers
and leaders. These movements sprung from the democratization of the mainstream
religions (Episcopal / Anglican, Presbyterian) and were an attempt to get rid of the
formal church heirarchies and bureaucracies of the traditional churches. I think
that he Holiness Movement was part of this movement -- like the Southern Baptists
in the USA.
April 15, 2008:
Hi Brian and Al,
I was doing a search for the Holiness Movement because Ralph C Horner came to Brockville
in 1893 and started the Holiness Movement in Brockville and Watertown, USA.
The information was published last year in the book Brockville by Glen Lockwood
who was commissioned for the 175th anniversary of Brockville.
Glen is the archivist at the Anglican Diocese of Ottawa Archives and his book is
The Story of Brockville By Glen Lockwood, published by Henderson Printing Inc.
www.hendersonprinting.com, ISBN 0-9699111-2-2
Page 371, I will copy what it says in the book:
In the 1800s, the Rev Ralph C Horner arrived as a charismatic Methodist preacher and
began holding old-style revivals. Methodist leaders were so discomfited by his methods
that, at a conference held at Brockville in 1893 they stated firmly that"prostration ,
and kindred peculiar conduct, are not a part of God's work". Such "prostration and
faith cures" were turning Methodism into "a thing of shouts, extreme phrases and
fanaticisms, which they instil into the minds of the young, the innocent and the ignorant,
"a Methodist observed in the Recorder and Times asking: "How long are we to be led by
the men and women of very meagre intellects and little experience, or when will the
church stand forth in its dignity and quench this wild fire of fanaticism, which is
being fanned to a flame by the so called evangelists, with a whirlwind of zeal, void of
the precious freight of judgment and wisdom?"
Horner was deposed in 1894, and in 1895 began his own ministry, offically called it
the HOLINESS MOVEMENT, although derided by the members of larger churches as
'Hornerites' and 'Holy Rollers'.
As late as 1901 , there was almost no interest in the Holiness Movement in Brockville
and only one woman identified herself as belonging to the sect. By 1914 , however, a
congregation was worshipping in a small chapel on Havelock Street at Schofield Hill.
In 1914, the Holiness Movement considered purchasing land outside town both to build
"at training school for their ministers"and to have a "farm worked by the students when
idle in the summer to fill the winter's needs. Alas, schism wracked the Holiness Movement
in 1916 over the issue of Horner's leadership. the chapel on Havelock Street seems to
have closed amid dissension.
In 1918 Horner founded a new church and rented premises at Prescott to train clergy.
In 1919 , he incorporated the Standard Church of America at Watertown and , in 1920,
in Canda. He had not given up plans for a Brockville training school. In 1920 he
purchased fourteen acres at the north end of Perth Street and raised $100,000 for
the buildings. In autumn 1920 the first classes were held in the unfinished seminary
at 245 Perth Street. In January 1921 , Bishop Horner dedicated the seminary,
designed by A. Stuart Allaster. he called it"a place in which preachers, evanagelist
and missionaries wereto be trained and baptized with fire to go and rescue the
Until 1923 , worship services were held at first in a farmhouse on the property and
later in the seminary dining room. A site was eventually secured at 100 Perth St an a
Standard Church as built of Boyd blocks. In 1928, a printing plant was built on
seminary land , and it published three serials: the Christian Standard, the Young Peoples's
Leader and the Missionary Ambassador. An affiliated store sold religious books, bibles
and other items. In time , the seminary came to be known as Brockville Bible College.
I am very interested in the articles Rev Horner wrote.
April 17, 2008:
Good morning Margriet and Allan,
Thank you for the up-dated e-mail.
As that famous expression goes, it would seem we are on the same page in regards to
the Holiness Movement. I can appreciate the work involved in searching out information
on the Holiness Movement.
My own research for several years was primarily through the Internet and several
interviews with members or family of members of the Holiness Movement. The remaining
information came from Rev. Douglas A. Crossman and Jo-Ann Brownlee of Shawville,
Quebec. The end result of my search led to my publishing the book, “The Holiness
Movement and The Root”.
In a reply to your e-mail, it is necessary that you should be aware that the
information would be in the area of eight (8) pages or so.
If you have Acrobat Reader software, I could send the information as a .PDF file
attachment to an e-mail. Otherwise, I would be part of the TEXT in an e-mail.
I could also send you a hard-copy if you provide your address.
Lots of choices so early in the morning.
April 24, 2008:
Hello Brian, Margriet and Allan,
I found your messages concerning the Holiness Movement on the Bytown or Bust website
interesting because I have just been researching a line of cousins associated with
the movement. I am researching forward from their ancestors, so I am not in contact
with current family members.
My first cousin twice removed was Eliza Maud STARK, daughter of John STARK and Janet
Turnbull BOA (my connection). She was born in 1877 in Montreal, and married George
Laurie RALPH in Ottawa in 1901. The civil marriage record lists them as adhering to
the Holiness Movement and married (by license) by Robert Radford. I have not seen a
church register of the marriage. George was a carpenter. He was living at home on the
1901 census, and the family were identified as Methodists.
On the 1911 census, George and Eliza Maud are living in Shawville, Quebec, and George
is now the Reverend Geo. L. RALPH, Clergyman of the Holiness Movement. They have
three children born in Ontario (1903, 1906 and 1909) and one born in Quebec in 1910,
which pins down when they arrived in Shawville. That is the extent of my research to
date, but I will see what else I can find.
In the meantime, I would appreciate any information you might have relating to this
Keith Field in Montreal
Keith, thanks for your e-mail regarding the Holiness Movement. Do you mind if I add
it to our web page at www.bytown.net/holiness.htm as a contact for other researchers?
Please let me know.
I just ran a search through the 1901 and 1911 census records, looking for the word
"Holiness" in our area of Ontario and Quebec. The results are very interesting. The
Holiness Movement originated in the United States took root around the north shore
of the St. Lawrence River, in the Brockville / Kingston / Prescott areas. It spread to
Smiths Falls and north to Marlborough, Goulbourn and western Nepean Townships, all
now part of the City of Ottawa. The converts seem to have been among many of the
prominent Protestant families in these areas and the movement spread into the Shawville,
Quebec area, following Protestant migration from Goulbourn and Nepean Townships, in
the latter part of the 1800's.
Keith, I'll have a look for the origins of Reverend Ralph.
Thanks again for this!
... Al Lewis
Please feel free to add my message to your web page. Any source of contacts is always
From the census and an IGI listing, George was the son of Joseph RALPH (born in Ireland)
and Mary ARGUE (born in Ontario). They had a large family on the
1881 census (RELPH on the LDS transcription), living in Huntley Twp, Carleton Co., and
still a few at home in 1901.
Huntley Township borders on Goulbourn Township and there are many connections between
the two townships.
May 1, 2008:
Hi Keith and Al,
I thought you may like a little history from my book when I was doing my search on Rev.
R.C. Horner. Incidentally, he is buried in the United church cemetery at Merivale and
Jamie Streets in Ottawa.
Minister and Bishop
The Reverend Bishop Ralph Clifford Horner B.O. (1853-1921) was a Methodist Minister,
born in Radford near Shawville, Quebec in Pontiac County. Bishop Horner was preaching
camp-meetings in the area throughout the late 1800s and the early 1900s. During that
time, the Radford United Church first opened its doors December 19, 1906. Although
the church has been closed since 1965 it is still intact and is the only church in
Radford with a small cemetery.
Horner studied theology at Victoria College, Cobourg, Ontario from 1883-85 and
Oratory in Philadelphia 1885-86 for a further two years. Horner was a dramatic,
powerful evangelist, church leader and preacher already active in evangelistic
missions. He was ordained by the Montreal Conference of the Methodist Church in
1887. His tenure with the church was short lived. Mounting criticism of his
teaching methods and failure to submit to conference discipline brought his
deposition. In 1894, taking some Methodist clergy and laity with him, he joined
the Wesleyan Methodists of New York and in 1895 formed an independent Holiness
Movement Church, becoming its bishop.
After a short, stormy career as a Methodist minister, Horner founded and led a
series of Holiness Churches. The first of these religions was known as the
Holiness Movement Church. By the year 1900, the Holiness Movement had 118 places
of worship and over 5,000 adherents in Canada mainly in eastern Ontario and on
the Prairies as well as abroad. It had a Bible college and a publishing house
In 1916 criticism of his leadership resulted in schism and Horner founded the
Standard Church of America. No doubt many strict Wesleyan Methodists were
disturbed by the exaggerations and doctrinal aberrations of the incipient
Holiness Movement - such as the recurring heretical concept of "the Church".
This so called heretical concept of "the church" as a spiritual communion of
the sanctified and saved opposed the true and traditional teaching of the Church
as a visible institution.
The first conference of the Holiness Movement Church was held in 1895  and at
first the congregation worshipped in a small brick school owned by the Roman
Catholic parish in Campbell’s Bay, Quebec. Rev. Horner erected a log church on a
site given to the church by William Flood. George Blackwell and Eddie Hamilton are
said to have given much time and materials towards the building of the church.
Today it is one of the oldest buildings in the village of Campbell’s Bay. In 1897,
Horner purchased a small acreage of land near Shawville for his Clarendon followers,
called the Hornerites or the Free Methodists. It was purchased from James McDowell
to be used as a burial ground. The Cemetery was located where there is currently
a cluster of trees in the southwest corner along the fence-line close to the road.
When this religious movement began to wane in 1917, many of the bodies buried here
were moved to Maple Grove Cemetery in Shawville.
 There may be a different date for the actual first conference. It may be 1897 rather then 1895.
Thank you for this. I noted the name HORNER as a distant connection in my family tree,
and a bit of digging connected him to Ralph Cecil. Hugh HORNER was the son of Samuel
and Margaret, and was a first cousin of Ralph Cecil if the information I have found
online is correct. Hugh married Angel HANNA, who was a half-sister to my great
grandmother Charity Sophia HANNA.
June 13, 2008:
I've been researching Ralph Cecil Horner as well. I just read the last will and testament
of Ralph Cecil, that I ordered from the Ontario Archives. Here's what it said about
property he owned.
Lot nos. 6 & 7 on westerly side of Ottawa and Gloucester macadamized road leading from
Ottawa to Billings Bridge now within the limits of the city of Ottawa valued at $7500.
I have typed up Ralph Cecil's will and I have the Globe and Mail article about his death.
His and his wife's obituaries as well as his brother's The Rev. George Richardson Horner
"Preaching George" I can send them to you and you are most welcome to put the info on your
A few years ago I was taking my son shopping for clothes and we ended up at Ragtime on
Flora St. at the corner of Bank. He was taking forever and the shop owners and I got talking.
They told me the building used to hold a religious school and printing press. Well I was so
excited. The owner showed me the ink stains on the floor where the press was. I do believe
there were 2 places around the area as one fellow on your site mentions a pawn shop as one
location. I was at Centrepointe library today looking up the obit for one of Ralph Cecil's
sons but couldn't find anything in the Citizen. The son lived in Ashton Ont. so maybe
it was just in a small paper. I also noticed at Centrepointe reels of street directories so
maybe that could clear up how many buildings he had or maybe he moved. Ran out of time but
will check next time.
Somewhere I remember reading an article of Ralph's son being interviewed. He said his father
was not happy as to how the Methodist church treated him. Ralph was also born tongue tied.
I'm sure this info is at the Pontiac Archives which I hope to visit this summer when they
have their open house.
I can make a separate file for the Horner brothers as there is quite a bit of info and you
can mention on your site that I have and can send it to those that are interested.
Let me know how you would like this info passed on, Jeanette Ralph.
P.S. There was a Ralph preacher in Shawville in 1911 but I can't make any connection with
my Ralph's at this time.
... Jeanette Ralph
June 20, 2008:
Hi Jeanette Ralph,
I am the fellow that mentioned the Pawn Shop.
In the book of sermons from R.C. Horner's "The Root" the first page had the following
HOLINESS MOVEMENT PUBLISHING HOUSE,
480 BANK STREET.
A web search shows the address as Howard's Pawn Shop now.
June 26, 2008:
I suspect that Rev. Horner owned the 2 properties. I used to work at 488 Bank and Flora.
I vaguely remember my bosses saying there was a religious school where Ragtime now is.
At that time the building was a food co-op and the pawn shop was a restaurant. A look at
the City of Ottawa directories would help. I'll see what they have on microfilm at
Centrepoint library. I know they have several years there but not sure which.
I also have information on Celena (Lena) Sturgeon that married James Alfred Hobin if you
July 31, 2008:
My Grandfather, John William Edward Carson and his brother, Archibald Carson, were ministers
of the Standard Church that was founded by Reverend Horner.
My great-grandmother, Ruth Trumpour Carson, was converted in 1907 and subsequently converted
the rest of the family. The 1911 census list them all as Holiness Movement. The Carson
family lived near Fish Lake, Sophiasburg, Prince Edward County. My father was born 1921 in
Shawville, Quebec. It was church policy to transfer ministers every 2 years, so John Carson
lived in 21 different locations across western Canada until ending up in Good Hope near
Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta.
Much of this information, including obituaries from The Christian Standard, is in my family
tree on the Ancestry website.
... Donald Carson
Note: The information to view Mr. Carson's material at www.ancestry.ca requires permission
from Mr. Carson to view.
August 15, 2008:
Descendants of Ralph C. (Bishop) Horner
1 Ralph C. (Bishop) Horner 1853 - 1921
.. +Annie E. McDonald 1865 - 1939
........ 2 Nettie E. Horner 1891 -
........ 2 Myrtle M. Horner 1892 -
........ 2 Annie A. Horner 1896 -
........ 2 Harldeh Hilda Horner 1899 -
........ 2 Ralph McDonald Horner 1901 - 1991
............ + Jean Isabel Coulter 1900 - 1951
........ 2 Asa James Horner 1905 -
........ 2 Arnold B. Horner 1907 -
Source: Robert Sample's file
July 10, 2009:
Just found your dialogue from last summer.
My connection to this story intersects as several points.
In 1959, the Holiness Movement churches throughout Canada formally merged with The Free Methodist in Canada, a denomination that was initiated in Western New York, USA,
in 1860 by another Methodist minister (Benjamin T. Roberts) who was also excommunicated for having opinions different from the religious hierarchy of the day. The
Free Methodist churches spread through southern Ontario from the 1880s onward.
In many cases, in the early years there were Free Methodist churches and Holiness Movement churches located within close proximity to one another. In downtown
Kingston, Ontario, they were located 2 blocks from one another. When they merged in 1959 all the churches took on the name Free Methodist. Some congregations located
closely, also merged and sold one of the existing buildings (as in the Kingston story). This may explain some of the confusion regarding identifying old HM churches,
now labeled FM.
Re: the Bank St story… the original Fifth Avenue Holiness Movement church is located at 2 Monk St., at the corner of 5th Ave & Monk, one block off Bank St. It now
has the public name of The Glebe House. A few years ago, the original surviving congregation decided to close its doors; at the same time a new FM congregation was
birthed that has remained more closely engaged with the Bank St community. This congregation is known as Ecclesiax.
Re: Brockville… my father grew up in the United Church in North Augusta (can’t remember if it was originally a Methodist church). In the mid-50s, a student from
Brockville Bible College (Standard Church) came to be the interim minister at their United Church (I know, that was quite a stretch even then). That minister’s
message had a powerful impact on my father, who left his country dance band career to become a minister himself.
Then in 1988-89, I lived in Egypt teaching at the theology college for ministerial students from the churches there that were birthed by the Holiness Movement
(from 1899) and later the Standard Church. Yes, the differences of opinion in eastern Ontario got translated into Egypt as well!
So I have been doing research regarding the Holiness Movement Church and its Egypt mission. At our national office in Mississauga we have all the back issues of
The Holiness Era: An Organ of the Holiness Movement or Church which indirectly tells some of the history of the movement.
Brian, I would be interested in a pdf copy of the booklet you have produced.
Interestingly, I just preached at the Yarker FM church a couple weeks ago. This would be the surviving HM congregation, though not in the original building.
Thanks for the info and connections.
Director, Global & Intercultural Ministries
The Free Methodist Church in Canada
November 22, 2009:
Just read the posts about the Holiness Movement and since I was raised in the Standard Church of America in Kingston, I can give some further
information about this subject. I have a copy of a book entitled "Ralph C. Horner, Evangelist" which is a reprint of a compilation of his memoirs
done by his wife after his death. The reprint is dated 1994 and published by Henderson Printing of Brockville.
I attended Brockville Bible College in the late '60s and early 70s and the Brockville Standard Church as well. I even worked part-time in the
Standard Publishing House on Perth Street while I was in college.
To round out the story of the Holiness Movement Church, when it merged with the Free Methodist Church, a number of congregations did not merge and formed
themselves into the Independent Holiness Church which was headquartered in Sydenham, Ontario. My family lived near Sydenham so we sometimes went to services
there even though our home church was the Standard Church on Barrie Street in Kingston. We had friends and relatives in both churches.
Madeline WoodDecember 14, 2009:
I just discovered your website. My grandfather was a “circuit riding” preacher for the Holiness Movement Church. In 1891 he and his family were listed
as Methodists. By 1901, they were listed as Holiness Movement. At that time they were living in Manitoba.
Does anyone know if any records were kept regarding the “circuit riding” preachers? If yes, where would I be able to access those?
May 7, 2010:
New e-mail address for Brian Sturgeon added to the list below ... Al
July 28, 2010:
For those who might be interested:
I have been reading the book by the late Redmond Thomas, once a magistrate in Bracebridge.
Reminiscences, published in 1969 or 1970 by the Herald-Gazette Press, Bracebridge, Ontario. In an
essay on Churches That Are Gone he writes of a Hornerite church in Bracebridge....
p. 74: The Hornerite Church... was a metal-clad building. When I first remember it the church was painted either
black or a very dark shade of maroon and its official name was Holiness Movement. Later the official name was
changed to Standard Church. The Hornerites were a very evangelical denomination. The ladies dressed in plain
black with no touch of bright colour or other ornamentation. The style of their apparel included a long wide
skirt and a flat-crowned round hat. The early 1920's was when the church last had a minister, so far as I
can remember. In 1947... the old church was torn down by the Pentecostal congregation who had by then long owned it.
I was not familiar with the Hornerite designation and so I went to the Internet and found you all. It's interesting
that Hornerites went west to Bracebridge which also had a Free Methodist congregation.
May 4, 2012:
My grandfather and his parents lived in Smith Falls and moved to Saskatchewan around 1906.
Family history says that his dad Harman Phillips, who was a contractor there, built the local church but underbid the job and
lost his shirt. I have learned that the Holiness Movement Church was built there in 1905 and so if this story is true
that must have been the church (it is said to have been a Methodist church that he built but that was doubtless an error
arising from the connection between the Methodists and the Holiness movement).
Does anyone know anything about the Holiness Movement church building there?
... Gordon Phillips
Good afternoon, Mr. Phillips:
Thanks for your e-mail regarding the Hornerite Churches in Eastern Ontario.
I am attaching a couple of excerpts from the book SMITHS FALLS: A Social History of the Men and Women in a Rideau Canal Community, 1794-1994
2047-1-X, Corporation of the Town of Smiths Falls, by Glenn Lockwood
This is a very detailed history of the town of Smiths Falls.
These excerpts are from page 454.
Lombardy is a hamlet about 10 kilometres west of Smiths Falls. Franktown is a hamlet about 10 kilometres north of Smiths Falls.
I’ll have a look through the book again and see if there is a photograph of the Holiness Church, built in 1907,
on McGill Street and will send it to you if I can find one. It's possible that the Holiness Church, built in 1905, was at
This is interesting material. Is it OK with you if I add your e-mail to our web page at www.bytown.net/holiness.htm and also to our Smiths Falls page.
I found a few references to the surname Phillips in the book. If you would like me to start a new web page on our site for
your ancestors, feel free to send along a brief history of the family and an old photograph or two.
We may hear from others Phillips (and related) researchers.
Thanks again for this.
... Al Lewis
May 8, 2012: (new web page for the Phillips family)
June 13, 2012:
I have just been reading all the old messages between all of you regarding the Hornerites in the early 1900s.
I thought someone in the group just might be able to help me with a question.
The Hornerites had a church in Gray Valley, Quebec (a tiny town in the Rockway Valley in Argenteuil County. One of the early
ministers was re-posted to Napanee, Ontario and apparently the records went with him. Is there a repository for Hornerite church
records that the public can access?
Thank you for your response to my query. By all means, add my email to your webpage – someone out there just might have an answer.
I have visited both the Mormon site and Ancestry.ca and the best I can come up with is a spotty record for 1897 and 1898. Some of their
records (mostly around 1900 -1901) are interspersed with the regular records in Ancestry. I had hoped that there was some sort of
repository for all things Hornerite-related! I know the church was operating in Gray Valley into the 1930s at least.
I will keep looking and let you know if I ever come across them!
June 20, 2012:
I really enjoyed the days with Bytown or bust. I have had numerous e-mails a lot of them I could not answer or use as my book is no
longer in print. I am requesting that you remove my name and e-mail address from the home page. Rather than having readers conclude
that I am still active, it is better for me to have appreciated the contacts but now to put it to rest. (Age is here).
Thank you so much and I will probably still look at the web page from time to time.
Thank you very much for all that you have contributed over the years. A lot of researchers have benefited from your interest and hard work.
August 13, 2012:
The Holiness Church in Drummond Township, Ontario, Canada
Photo Source: A History of Drummond Township, by John C. Ebbs, (Descended from Simon Ebbs from County Wicklow ?)
General Store Publishing House, 1999, ISBN 1-894263-14-6, page 54
Keywords: Drummond Township, McCreary, Boyd's Settlement, Scotch Corners and Innisville
E-mail Margriet, Keith Field, Jeanette Ralph, Donald Carson, Dan Sheffield, Madeline, Iris, Shirley Burkhart, Gordon Phillips, Glenna Morrison and Al Lewis
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