Roblin's Knox Presbyterian Church
Blennerhassett, Hazel, Manitoba History
There exists in Roblin an old church. It was lovingly built by good-hearted volunteers and has stood for a hundred years, serving the community well.
They would be pleased, those long gone pioneers, whose descendents still labour to care for their proud old building. They came together for the first time in April 1904 to conduct a Presbyterian service in the CNR freight shed in Roblin. By September of 1906, they were ready to build a church, and the Ladies Aid Society purchased two lots for the purpose. Alas, no progress could be made in 1907; no money could be spared for the church following a devastating crop failure.
But in 1908, the congregation rolled up its sleeves and ploughed ahead. Two horses worked the four-horse-plow to carve the hole for the foundation, hauling in 100 loads of stones, and volunteers raised the walls and roof when they could spare the time from farming. The completed church could seat 150 people with room for 100 children in Sunday School. Although the cornerstone is dated 1908, it was opened for worship on 18 July 1909, as Knox Presbyterian Church.
In those days church activities were the heart of social life in rural communities and there followed a flurry of events mostly having to do with food and fundraising. Teas and suppers, breakfasts, lawn socials, concerts and plays provided fun and funds to support the Minister, the building and mission work. Of course, there was Bible study, temperance work and Sunday service as well. In 1916, the Methodist congregation joined Knox, a union that was so successful that by 1921 they could no longer fit inside the church building, and had to hold services in the local high school. Clearly, this would not do, and 1925 saw local farmers once more hauling 100 loads of stones to the church to build an addition, raising the seating capacity to 400. The renovated United Church was filled on 13 December for a splendid opening service.
Cash was almost non-existent during the 1930s. The congregation could make no mortgage payments for five years; the Minister's salary was reduced twice. Once again, the Ladies Aid came to the rescue with socials and sales to raise the $300 annual interest on the mortgage.
The period 1925 to 1958 proved a testament to the quality of work of the church builders, as the structure received little attention for over 30 years. Fortunately, by 1958, the congregation was once again able to undertake a major renovation of the basement and front of the Sanctuary. But imagine the horror of the congregation in 1973 to see that the south wall of the building had developed a tilt. Investigations showed that the rafters were spreading; allowing the wall to shift, and the building inspector advised that the church should not be used when it was windy--in case it fell down!
While the congregation shared space in the Roman Catholic Church, extensive repairs were done to lower the ceiling, replace the roof, straighten the walls and close some windows. …