By Henry F. Heald
As the word “memorial” in the name of the church signifies, Carleton Memorial United Church was founded by World War II veterans in memory of their fallen comrades. The congregation was inaugurated in 1950, but the genesis of the church begins shortly after the end of the war in 1945.
The Veterans Land Act made home sites available for veterans in the Hog’s Back/Carleton Heights area. Each veteran was entitled to a three-per-cent mortgage to purchase a half-acre lot and build a house. So a new community of young families sprang up in the area. In the beginning, interdenominational church services were held in the local school under the leadership of Rev A.E. Martineau of City View United Church. However, as the development grew, families with United Church of Canada roots began to plan for a church of their own.
In her book, “Make Me An Altar”, a history of the church from 1947 to 1983, Mary Mortimer details the steps leading up to the formal founding of Carleton Memorial United Church.
Early in 1950 the Anglican Bishop of Ottawa established the parish of St. Marks so the United Church people decided it was time to move. In September, with the help of Rev. E. M. Cadigan, chairman of the Home Missions Committee of the Ottawa Presbytery, a United Church congregation was formed with a membership of 85 on the roll. Two Charter Services were held, one on Sunday, October 1, and another on November 5, to accommodate families with baby- sitting problems.
Rev. Martineau continued to provide spiritual oversight of the congregation in the first few years with the help of two theology students, Norman Buchanan and Keith Eddy. The first full-time minister for Carleton Memorial was Rev. Dr. Duncan McRae who came in September 1952 and served until July 1955, seeing the congregation into the new building. He was succeeded by Rev. Blair McPherson who served until 1961. Rev. Dr. Pue-Gilchrist filled the gap until Rev. Norman Hair came in 1962. In 1973 Mr. Hair moved to Hamilton and was succeeded by Rev. Angus J. Macdonald. He served until he retired in 1990 to be replaced by Rev. Jim Lee.
The church marked its 50th anniversary in 2000 with special services, a banquet and the publication of a sequel to “Make Me An Altar” updating the history. “Go Forth And Serve”, by Henry Heald, covers the 17 years of church activity leading up to the 50th anniversary. Earlier, Mary Mortimer had compiled another book, “Quiet Courage,” edited by Gil Croome. This is a collection of first-person accounts of the war years, with submissions by those who served in the armed forces as well as civilians who served on the home front. The latest recognition of the founding veteran members, now a dwindling number, is a series of three memorial stained glass windows. The project was the idea of Sally Perkins and she has chaired a small committee which over a period of several years has raised the money, advised on the design and overseen the installation. The final window was installed and dedicated in November 2004.
Since 1974 Carleton Memorial United Church has also been the home of a thriving day care centre, which operates under provincial jurisdiction with a small Board of Trustees drawn from the congregation. Today, the congregation is committed to honoring its past by creating a peaceful future. In a visioning process initiated in 2011, CMUC discerned that its role in the community and world is to live our memorial heritage and the conviction we witness in Jesus Christ to be peace-making. We mean this in an internal sense by creating peace in our individual spiritual lives and outwardly by being advocates for peace in our community and world.