The first settlers to the Orangeville area brought with them the beliefs and practices of the Church of England as early as 1800 but it was not until 1837 that a formal congregation was organized and a church building erected. 1837 was also the year that Queen Victoria ascended to the throne of England. This first St. Mark's Church was a small log structure built by a missionary Anglican layman named Seneca Ketchum and located in a clearing in Mono Township on the First Line behind the present-day Toyota Dealership on Highway #9 East.
Seneca Ketchum and his younger brother, Jesse, had come from New York State to Kingston where they organized the Anglican Church there. Moving on to Toronto with their Rector, they build St. James Cathedral and from there began organizing congregations in the counties west of Toronto. As the population of Orangeville grew, St. Mark's needed a new site and a larger building so a stone church was built in 1854 on the present site on First Avenue on land donated by Jesse Ketchum. Originally part of a four-point parish, St. Mark's was granted independent status when Orangeville was incorporated as a village in 1863 and the Rev. Alexander Henderson was appointed the first resident Rector. His ministry lasted 40 years! Orangeville continued to grow, largely due to the coming of the "Toronto Grey and Bruce Railway" in 1871. The parish quickly grew to be the largest Anglican Church in the County of Dufferin.
By 1868, the growing congregation had outgrown even the newer stone building and it was torn down to make way for the present brick structure. Rev. Henderson, later appointed an honourary Canon of Christ's Church Cathedral in Hamilton, purchased the house next door which, on his retirement in 1901, was purchased by the parish and designated as the official "Rectory." The house lasted until 1929 when it was torn down and the present Rectory built at a total cost of $4600! The house ceased to used as a Rectory in 1987 when a previous Rector purchased his own home. The old house has since been sold for investment income.
Many changes have taken place at St. Mark's over the years. Originally part of the Diocese of Quebec, later Toronto, and finally Niagara (1875), St. Mark's is currently in the top 5% in size of all parishes in Niagara.... and growing! The present brick building, erected in 1868, has also undergone significant changes. A tall spire standing on top of the present tower was blown down in the Great Storm of 1887 and never rebuilt. Later additions to the building included a parlour and kitchen in 1953 and a two-story Education Wing in 1959. Major architectural changes to the sanctuary and chancel took place in 1983. The Parish Hall was completely renovated in 1985. The exterior of the building underwent major restorations in 1968 and again over a five-year period ending in 1994. This latter restoration cost $500,000.... the entire amount being raised by the congregation without incurring any debt.
Currently St. Mark's has two priests and one deacon serving the parish
Other Rectors of St. Mark's, since our establishment as an independent parish, have included Canon Alexander Henderson (1861-1901), Rev. George Rix (1902-1912), Rev. George Tebbs (1913-1915), Rev. Arthur Howitt (1915-1918), Rev. Frederick Eley (1918-1919), Rev. Thomas Stewart (1919-1920), Rev. John MacDonald (1922-1929), Canon Herbert West-McMaster (1929-1951), Rev. John Bartlett (1951-1955), Archdeacon David Woeller (1955-1961), Bishop Fraser Berry (1961-1963), Archdeacon John Rathbone (1961-1969), Canon Arthur Page (1969-1975), Canon Paul Brillinger (1975-1981), Canon Paul Taylor (1981-2000), who is 1992, became the first rector to serve as Archdeacon of Greater Wellington. Our present rector is Archdeacon Peter Scott (2001- ).
Over the past decade, seven members of our parish family have responded to a call to ordination.... The Rev'd Harold Miller (diocese of Ontario), Archdeacon Rick Jones (Niagara), Archdeacon Marion Vincett (Niagara), Rev'd Mark Murray (Toronto), Rev'd Lynne Thackwray (Niagara), Rev'd Richard Moorse (Niagara) and Rev'd Kevin Bothwell (Niagara). It is encouraging that these persons found spirituality at St. Mark's so enriching for their own life journeys. We, in turn, have benefited from their ministry in our midst. Marion Vincentt, Lynne Thackwray, Richard Moorse and Kevin Bothwell served curacies at St. Mark's before moving on to their own parishes. Marion, Lynne, Rick, and Richard completed field placements here during their seminary days prior to ordination. During Archdeacon Scott's tenure as Rector there have been three further Assistant Curates, The Rev'd Patricia Lucy (Niagara), The Rev'd Bahman Kalantari (Niagara) and The Rev'd Connie Phillipson (Niagara).
St. Mark's has been honoured in the past few years with the visits of important political figures including the Rt. Hon. Paul Martin , former Prime Minister of Canada, at a wedding in September 2006 and the Hon. Bob Rae, former Premier of Ontario, at a Baptism in November 2008.
As we move forward at the start of a new millenium we are encouraged by our past and confident in our future, meeting the challenges of ministry in a rapidly changing world as the Spirit leads us!