The Friends of the Rockingham Church are sorry to announce the cancellation of the 20th Anniversary Celebration planned for August, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions in effect on public gatherings. We are very disappointed but of course the most important thing is that everyone stays safe.
Also, with regret, we have closed the church to visitors for the immediate future. The province has issued guidelines for the reopening of museums and attractions that we are not able to meet — we don’t have staff or enough volunteer power to be on site ensuring safety and sanitary requirements are met. The grounds and cemetery are still accessible. (Above John S.J. Watson the founder of Rockingham. Photo supplied)
Now we are looking ahead to next year and a big 21st Anniversary Celebration! We sincerely hope that life will be more “normal” again and that we also can celebrate that.
However, we still wanted to mark this year in some way and Barry Conway, our scheduled speaker and presenter for this year’s Celebration, has come up with a terrific plan. Barry is a long-time journalist and broadcaster who returned to his native Barry’s Bay a few years ago. Among other activities, his interests in local history, culture, and broadcasting inspired him to found the Opeongo Readers’ Theatre in 2018. Over the last three years, the Readers’ Theatre has given many live spoken-word performances of classic literature and the documented history and culture of the Upper Ottawa Valley — all recorded by Barry and available as podcasts.
In honour of the Church’s 20th anniversary and Rockingham’s history, Barry is proposing to put together a show about John S.J. Watson, Rockingham’s founder. Drawing from newspaper clippings and histories, the show will explore some of the many misconceptions about Watson’s heritage and arrival in Rockingham, as well as his contributions as Warden of Renfrew County to the area’s development. Barry plans to produce the podcast by early to mid-August.
You can find this — and all the other shows — by Googling “The Opeongo Line podcast” which should take you right to the site. A second way is through Podtail: https://podtail.com/en/podcast/the-opeongo-line/ We will also post the link on our website, www.rockinghamchurch.org If you send us your email address, we can send you a reminder when the show is available. It’s easy — you can e-mail us at email@example.com We promise not to circulate it, or plague you with e-mails from us.
Although we are celebrating the 20th anniversary of our success in restoring the church, the whole story actually started 25 years ago. Two recent issues of The Eganville Leader have reprinted items under “Reflections of a Century – 25 Years Ago.” The first, headlined Group Hopes It Can Save Historic Church (June 20, 1995) begins, “A small group of people gathered in the historic Rockingham Church last week… to try and save the 130-year-old building from a fate of destruction.” The second, from June 27, 1995, titled Historic Rockingham Church Gets a Three-Month Reprieve, recounts that “a group of local people have struck a deal with the Anglican Diocese in Ottawa and the wooden church will stand, with insurance, for the next three months….”
And so it all began. We weren’t sure then what we were taking on or if we could do it, but with perseverance, luck, and the help of many friends — you! — we succeeded. Little were we thinking that we too would become history!
Should you be kind enough to make a donation to the church, please make sure you include your full name with middle initial for the charitable tax receipt. The Canada Revenue Agency requires this for valid receipts.
We look forward to seeing you next year!
The Friends of the Rockingham Church Committee: Glenn Allen, President; Gordon Benner, Vice-President; Joyce Chyrski, Secretary; Peggy Bridgland, Treasurer; Members: Ann Hamilton, Dale Hamilton, David Kelley, Rob Van Vliet, Beth Kennedy, Paul Jorgensen, David Trafford, Annaliese Jamnik, Ed Battiston
Mailing address: Friends of the Rockingham Church Inc., Box 271, Combermere, Ontario K0J 1L0