History of West Plains

Our story begins in 1871 when the first members met in a little school house standing next to the present church site in the area known as Aldershot.  The earliest records refer to a “preaching place” called the Upper School House.  In 1872, the congregation was named Plains West, part of the Burlington Plains Parish of the Methodist Episcopal Church.  In 1875, William Hendrie donated a choice piece of land for the building of a church.  A one room structure with battened sides and rounded windows was built at a cost of $400.  In 1878, the little church, with seating for 90 people, opened its doors.  In 1884, with the first union of the Methodist churches, Plains West Church had 25 members.  The congregation continued to grow and in 1925, with the union of Methodist, Congregational and Presbyterian churches, West Plains United Church came into being.

In that era, the district was noted for the quality of its produce – melons, tomatoes, small fruits, apples, cherries, plums etc. – from local farms and market gardens.  Tons of produce was picked each year for shipping to area and distant cities.  Horses were still used for ploughing so the little white church of West Plains needed its horse shed for occasional use.

Three years later, the congregation was debating whether to raise the building to put in a cement basement to accommodate the Sunday School, or erect a new church.  The question was resolved on Easter Sunday, 1929.  During the service that day, the congregation overflowed the little church, with some members having to stand around the open door.  Soon after, a committee was named to plan for a new church.

The property was only 60 feet by 100 feet, so the Hendrie family gave another half acre of land in exchange for 11 feet and an easement for a passage over our land.  The new building was dedicated in 1930.

Church membership increased as the area grew and in 1940 the congregation celebrated the burning of the mortgage.  Throughout this period, the church was part of a larger Pastoral Charge.  But in 1954, West Plains became a one point charge and a new manse was built, realizing a long held dream.

As new families moved into the area, the church had to find more space.  In a two phase building program, a new wing was added in 1962.  A further addition in 1968 created more room for the Sunday School and organizations active in mid-week, as well as an office, minister’s study, church parlour, large hall and renovated kitchen.  Much of the painting and decorating was done by members of the congregation as proof of their strong feeling of goodwill and fellowship.