Emmanuel United Church

Our History

Earliest Beginnings


The idea for Emmanuel United Church began in 1960 among the original inhabitants of Bramalea, “Canada’s First Satellite City”.  In September, Bette Dakin and Betty Hickey were at the first public meeting.  The first committee was formed and met on October 16. The first Presbytery action to approve the holding of public worship services in Bramalea took place on November 29. The first service was held December 4th, and was conducted by Rev. Balsdon with Rev. Elinor Leard as speaker.  60 attend this first service which was held in the first Emmanuel church, a portable classroom originally from Aloma School, purchased for one dollar and moved to a location on Autumn Boulevard.


The Original School Portable on Autumn Boulevard


In January 1961, the Presbytery appointed Mr. Graham Holmes as student minister and Rev. Elinor Leard as supervising minister. In February 1961 the first Sunday school session was held with 35 children attending and Mrs. Bette Dakin as Superintendent. A meeting of the Women's Auxiliary (now UCW) was first held in early 1961 with Mrs. Cecil Maier as President.  On April 25, 1961 the Dufferin and Peel Presbytery approved the new church site on the corner of Balmoral Drive and Parkway Drive (now Cloverdale Drive).  The inaugural Service to constitute the congregation of fifty-six charter members was held in the Bramalea industrial Centre on June 4th, 1961.


A larger temporary structure was built on our present location, with the first service held on April 22, 1962.  All of the furnishings, organ and choir gowns were gifts from sister churches.


Temporary Structure as Church Building on Balmoral Drive


The first official Board Meeting was held on June 14, 1961 and the first Annual Meeting on February 2, 1962.  On Easter Sunday 1962, the Senior Choir sang for the first time under the direction of Lorne and Lenore Thurston. They also started the Junior Choir.  In July 1962 Rev. Elinor Leard became the first minister of Emmanuel in a joint pastoral charge with Harrison United Church.



Elinor Leard (1962)


Rev. L.D. Snell became the 2nd minister of Emmanuel in July 1964. Mr. James Harper served as Music Director from 1965 to 1972 with Jenny Vanes and Lorraine Smith leading the Junior Choir and later Irene Spencer became Junior Choir leader. In 1964 the Manse was purchased on Croydon Court and provided office space for congregational use.


Rev. L. Douglas Snell (1964)




New Sanctuary (1966)


Following the Church service on June 26, 1966 a sod turning ceremony took place at the site of the new church. Led by the Minister Rev. Douglas Snell, the first sod was turned by members of the building committee: Charles Norman, Howard Thompson and Terry Bamford. The Church was to be built on the site of the temporary building which was moved to the west of its first location.



Sod Turning Ceremony (June 26, 1966)


The laying of the corner stone took place on October 30, 1966.  The building was dedicated on February 26, 1967. The “temporary” building became the Annex, and remained for nearly twenty years as a place for congregational events and primary Sunday school. Older classes met in Bramalea Secondary School just across the street. 



Laying of Cornerstone (October 30, 1966)

Dedication Service for Church Building


A Growing Congregation


In July 1969, Rev. Wilbur J. Rogers became the 3rd minister of Emmanuel with Mr. Bruce McTavish as Music Director from January 1972 to 1977, and Eva Wilkie leading the Junior Choir.  In 1971 the New Directions started singing with a small group of young people and expanding to a much larger group by 1975.


Rev. Wilbur J. Rogers (1969)


In 1973, the church Annex narrowly escaped destruction due to a terrible fire on April 24. Fortunately, the Chinguacousy Fire Department put out the fire and the building was repaired.


In the summer of 1975 the United Church of Canada was celebrating its 25th Anniversary and held an International Youth Exchange. Diane Spencer was chosen from Emmanuel to represent our Presbytery, and this group travelled to India. The following year Emmanuel hosted a similar youth group from Kenya.


On November 1, 1975 Rev. Gerry Day became the 4th minister of Emmanuel. In September 1977, Mrs. Mary Freeman became Director of Music with the Junior Choir led by Pam Smith and Carolyn Sullivan.


Rev. Gerry Day (1975)


Rev. Charles W. (Chuck) Lewis arrived in September 1982 as the 5th minister of Emmanuel. In 1983 a fourth singing group, the Primary Choir, was started by Sandy Rypma and Susan Winter.


Rev. Charles W.(Chuck) Lewis (1981)


By the early 1980s, Emmanuel church had grown considerably from the first service to a congregation of about 450 people. The Sunday School had expanded to approximately 203 children and most had to meet in the High School across the road from Emmanuel. The Church also provided facilities for babies and toddlers each Sunday. Youth activities included C.G.I.F., Explorers, Venturers and a Youth Group as well as the choirs. The U.C.W. now had 4 very active units. There were the adult groups such as the Bible Study Group and Men's Club and all the committees that helped to keep the activities and worship services running smoothly. The church desperately needed more space to accommodate this thriving fellowship and the now twenty-year-old "temporary" Annex building was getting past repair.


Building Addition (1986)


After a Task Force recommendation in 1980, a "Steering Committee" was formed in 1982 to decide the feasibility and cost of an addition to the main church building. Their recommendations to the Board in October 1982 led to the formation of a Fund Raising Committee and Planning Committee in the spring of 1983. In the fall of 1984 the Planning Committee recommended an architect's firm to the Board. The firm was hired with actual construction beginning during the 25th anniversary year, in April, 1986.  After 20 years, the old Annex building was removed by Faith Gospel Tabernacle and transported to their site near the Hwy 7 overpass by Creditview Road.  Following the service on April 27, a sod turning ceremony took place on the site of the new addition, with Marg Bowerbank, Sara Carruthers, Curtis Stiles and Noel Nathaniel participating in this second historic sod turning.


Sod Turning Ceremony for New Addition (April 27, 1986)


The 1986 building addition, which included a new fellowship hall, kitchen, meeting room, classrooms and offices, was completed by the Fall. The official opening and dedication of the new building took place on November 23, 1986. These facilities were well used by our own congregation, and also by the community. Brownies and Guides meet here as well as many other community support groups, and a child care centre operates in the main hall most weekdays.


1990s and the New Millenium


In 1994, Emmanuel celebrated a financial milestone, the retirement of the debt on the church building, in a mortgage burning ceremony.  On March 1, 1996, Rev. Marjorie Ostrander was called to the ministry at Emmanuel, becoming our 6th minster.   In 2000, Joe Elkerton was hired as a Staff Associate to focus on youth ministry.   

Rev. Marjorie Ostrander (1996)


Joe Elkerton, Family and Youth Ministry (2000)


In 2005, Rev. Kerri Hagerman was appointed as interim minister at Emmanuel.  On October 1, 2006, Pastor Sue Cowan was called to become our 7th and minister.


Rev. Kerri Hagerman (2005)



Pastor Sue Cowan (2006)


50th Anniversary and Beyond


In 2011 we celebrated our 50th Anniversary, and this past year, our 55th Anniversary.  In 1961, when the congregation of Emmanuel began, Brampton was a small town of about 18,500 people and Bramalea was in its infancy.  In the over 50 years since that time, Brampton has grown to be a multicultural city of over 520,000 people.  The stages of growth and change at Emmanuel reflect the changes in our city and society. We are striving to continue the work and witness of those who came before us and to be a dedicated and dynamic presence in this community.

Church Billboard during 50th Anniversary Celebrations


The Memorial Garden (1986)


As part of the building addition project in 1986, the landscaping was incorporated as a Memorial Garden project, both as a fund-raiser and a living memorial.   Each plant was sponsored and most were planted as a memorial to loved ones as shown in the diagram.   A legend follows which gives the location and details for each plant as they were planted in 1986. 


Emmanuel United Church Memorial Garden (M. Finoro, 1986)


Memorial Garden Location Key



Number     DONOR(S):                                 DEDICATED TO:


1               Rawle Gosine                           Sybil Cosine


2               Walter & Joyce Clift                  Harry Taylor, George & Mable Clift

3               Sam & Nora Sinanan                 Ivan Sinanan

4               Garth Cowper-Smith                  Ruth Cowper-Smith

5               Garth Cowper-Smith                  Ruth Cowper-Smith

6               Sam & Olive Nathaniel               Nathaniel Family

7               Les Miller                                 Ruth M. Miller

8               Sue & Richard Harmer               Marjorie A. Harmer


9               Kathy Dakin                              Dakin Family

10             Bob Ford                                   Ford Family

11             Harold & Jean McCauley                                  

12             Al Fisher                                   Fisher Family

13             Tony & Natalia Nimer                 Jaime C. Nimer

14             Melissa & Christopher Brown      Ettie Joliffe

15             Les & Marg Edwards                  Clarke-Edwards Family

16             Chico & Eleanor Okihiro             Okihiro Family

17             Hilda & Alex Craig                     Craig Family

18             Charles & Marion Norman          To the Glory of God

19             Charles & Marion Norman          To the Glory of God

20             Sylvia & Glen Tarlin                   Family


21             Erik Braaten                             Family

22             Robin Ward                              Family

23             Jim Carruthers                          Family


24             Karen Doan                              Elizabeth McCurry

25             Karen & Barry Hutchinson             

26             Marjorie Clinkunbroomer            Parents

27             Doug & Ruth Petrie                   Family

28             Sally Beedle                             Husband & Grandson

29             Les Miller                                 Ruth M. Miller

30             Joyce & Jane Waters                          

31             Ron & Jo-Anne Brcwn               Ray Brown

32             Barry & Rachelle Ford               Our Children

33             Joyce & John Mercer                 Florence & Bill Andrew


34             Margaret & Carl Beatty              Family

35             Rick Thompson                         Our Children

36             Doris Sheard                             Alma Goddard


37             Mr. & Mrs. D. Warwick

38             Mr. & Mrs. D. Warwick

39             Betty & Don Gordon

40             Edwina White                           William & Ethel Manuel

41             Bruce Walker                           David B. Walker

42             Bruce Walker                           Robert Walker

43             Janice Mercer                          Dora Mercer

44             Moira & Mario Finoro                Jack Boyd

45             Dennis Baboolal

46             Irene Best

47             Ted Gould

48             Ted Gould

49             Pat Kelly