The North River Baptist Church Today
The Former Church As It Stands Today
In 2006 a young family from Ontario had come to purchase a piece of water-front property in Miminegash. Before they had a chance to make arrangements to build a cottage, a friend had told them about a building they could have for free. This building was the former North River Baptist Church. At this point the people who had purchased the North River rink and property had no success in selling the structure and were prepared to give it away in order clear the space. The Reynolds made the trip to Cornwall to take a look at the old church. The church was in a pretty sad state, but despite the fact that the building was suffering rot and still sported tacky 1970’s interior design including a tiled dropped-ceiling, they fell in love with it and saw its potential. The couple was very enthusiastic about the building and it could not have gone to a more appreciative family. They were eager to preserve this piece of history, as Mr. Reynolds said, “you couldn’t re-create this really for any money, it’s sort of a living piece of history and thought if we could make this our cottage it would be pretty cool.”28
Photos Courtesy of Ryan Clory
The building was acquired by the Reynolds in the fall of 2006. Mr. Reynolds began looking into the prospect of moving the building and started looking for bids and cost estimates to move the building to his property in Miminegash. A local company was hired for the job and Mr. Reynolds and a few friends began looking at any issues that needed sorting out before the big move. All the rotten boards and plaster was removed and any major issues were addressed in order to avoid any problems that may arise later when putting the building back together. The original gothic-style windows were removed, filed and stored before the move. All this took place around Halloween, which caused a bit of anxiety for the Reynolds, luckily there was no damage to the building and the move went ahead. The building was cut into three pieces, each piece was moved separately. Mt. Pleasant was chosen as a sort of half-way point as the company was only permitted to travel a certain amount of hours a day.
Despite one incident, the church was successfully moved in three pieces from Cornwall to Miminegash. The building was re-assembled, and the Reynolds began transforming the church into a cottage for their family. Wanting to preserve the history and integrity of the church, they kept as much of the original building as they could. The drop ceiling was removed, and the original windows were re-installed. It is believed that the beautiful ceiling is not the original one from 1868, but a renovated ceiling dated at around 1900-10. Some of the boards on the ceiling were used to replace some of the rotten ones on the floor. While the floor boards were being replaced, Mr. Reynolds removed all the old hand-hewn timbers that were under the floor and used them to make a loft. He replaced the timbers with modern 2x12s and then placed the original floor back on top. In order to complete the project, he also purchased the rights to another Victorian style building and used the boards and windows from that structure.
|From the interior looking out the back wall||The ceiling||The back of the cottage|
Perhaps the most significant change made to the old building was the removal of most of the back wall. It was replaced with windows, which allows an optimal view of the beautiful Island scenery. The boards and timbers that made up the wall were not wasted: a large kitchen table was created from them. The original altar piece was also preserved and used to create an island for their kitchen. Another major change was the addition of two vintage doors on one side of the building, in preparation for a porch that will be added in the near future which will wrap around the side of the cottage.
|The front of the cottage||The stained glass window|
A unique personal touch was added to the cottage: a beautiful stained glass window was installed above the entrance. Every aspect of the window has a special significance. The inspiration for the window comes from the beautiful sunset that can be seen from the cottage. The image of the sunset was then recreated in the stained glass. A Celtic cross was then added to the fore-front of the scene representing the family’s strong Irish routes. Celtic designs were also added to the outer ring of the window. The upper portion of the window has the words “Baile Oileàn” which in Gaelic/Irish means “Island home.” Between the two words is a claddagh design which is also symbolically Irish. Lastly, along the bottom of the window is the number 1868 which was the year that the church was built.