by Helen Whetter
Life on the prairies changed with the arrival of settlers in the 1800’s. In 1870 the province of Manitoba was formed, and in 1871 with respect to the Indigenous and Metis peoples, Treaty 1 was negotiated and signed, promising to share the land and live peacefully together.
Settlers came eager to gather and establish places to worship God. The first Methodist missionary to the Red River in 1868, was George Young with a large preaching circuit including Winnipeg, Sturgeon Creek, and Headingley at the Gowler farm, now the John Blumberg Golf Course. With more settlers arriving, a St. Charles circuit with H.Whitmore was formed in 1893, for Sturgeon Creek, Rosser, and Headingley at Gerrie School where the Sturgeon Creek Hutterite Colony is now. In 1919 the Gerrie School services closed and the Methodist services ended in the Headingley area.
In 1817, Lord Selkirk and his Presbyterian settlers from Scotland built a structure for prayer meetings near today’s St. John’s Cathedral. Lord Selkirk died without fulfilling the promise of a permanent place of worship, and in 1820 an Anglican clergy, John West, was sent by the Missionary Society of London to serve the Hudson Bay Company. He founded the St. John’s Anglican Church on the site chosen by Lord Selkirk and served the large area including the Selkirk settlers. In 1851 John Black arrived as the first Prebyterian minister and established a four point charge which included Kildonan, Little Britain, Fort Garry and Headingley. James Nesbitt joined him as an assistant in 1862, and secured a grant to build a church in Headingley which was completed in 1865, perhaps along the river. In 1911 a new church was completed on Dodd’s Road. During these years the Presbyterian and Anglican churches are noted as working together, often sharing services, Sunday School and activities such as Fall Suppers.
In 1925, the United Church of Canada was created with the union of the Presyberian, Methodist and Congregational churches. Sturgeon Creek United Church Pastoral Charge including Sturgeon Creek, Charleswood, Headingley, and St. Charles was formed, with W. Patteson the first minister in 1930. In 1954 Headingley and St. Charles became one charge with student supply ministers, and in 1968 with assistance from Winnipeg Presbytery full time ministers were hired. In 1967 land was donated by the Hon. John Taylor family and the church was moved to Bridge Road. In 1971 Headingley and St. Charles decided to hire half time ministers with no assistance from presbytery: Nico Vanderstoel, 1971, Allan Selby, 1973, Gaston Vialard, 1980, Dr. Grant Smith, 1982, George Davidson, 1995, Joanne Kury, 2013.
In 2017 with Joanne Kury we continue to be keen to gather to worship God and follow the way of Jesus at Headingley United Church. We respond to Jesus’s call to befriend the outsider, visit the sick and imprisoned, care for the ill and impoverished. We live with respect for others and their traditions of worship. In 2007 Canada signed on to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and as our early ancestors we work to live respectfully and peaceably.