In April 1819, the Rev. William Macaulay wrote the first entry in the register of the Mission of Hamilton (Cobourg), established at that time by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts. Mr. Macaulay gave occasional ministrations to the scattered settlers as necessity required, probably in the schoolhouse.      ...Read More
Glimpses of the pioneer clergyman, Mr. Macaulay may be seen in baptismal and funeral records.
On June 8, 1827, the Rev. A. N. Bethune, formerly minister of Grimsby, was licensed to the Mission of Cobourg.
He wrote in 1835: "Every other Sunday at 3 p.m. I officiate at a schoolhouse in Grafton, Township of Haldimand, about seven miles from Cobourg, where from 60 to 80 persons usually assemble, and where, from the general respectability of the congregation, the decided piety of a numerous proportion, and the proper and decorous manner in which the worship is sustained, I always feel a peculiar satisfaction in officiating. It is in contemplation to build a church at this place as soon as practicable.”
The Rev. Charles Taylor Wade, the first traveling missionary recorded in his diary: “I assisted my dear brother, the Rector of Cobourg, in a service at Grafton where he addressed himself extemporaneously, his general custom in these week-day ministrations to a most attentive congregation of about 40 persons. There are few villages which I have visited, in which Church privileges are more duly estimated than in this. Mr. Barnham (sic) and his family, and others in the neighbourhood are ever ready to promote the interests of religion, and their example acts beneficially on the good cause."
The following account from the pen of Bethune was printed in "The Church" of April 25, 1840:"We had the gratification, on Monday last, of attending a public meeting at Grafton, convened for the purpose of taking steps for the erection of a Church in connection with the Church of England in that village. A Building Committee was appointed and a subscription opened upon the spot. The amount contributed at the close of the meeting was nearly £200.”
By February 13, 1841, £503 was subscribed. Dr. Halliday gave the timber for the frame, Mr. Gillard helped to draw the pine, J. Morton built the foundation, David Peters built the frame from designs drawn by Mr. Greaves of Cobourg, and James Bird painted the completed building.
At a meeting held on July 8, 1843, Charles Vernon moved and Charles Hammond seconded that the name "St. George's" be adopted.
"The Church" of Sept. 20. 1844: “A neat and commodious Church recently erected in this beautiful village was opened for Divine Service on Sunday last, the 15th lnst. Prayers were read and Public Baptism administered, by the Rev. J. Wilson who has Grafton conjoined with his charge at Colborne and the sermon was preached by the Rev. A. N. Bethune, Rector of Cobourg.”
The January 30, 1846 issue of The Church: “There are two Sunday Schools in active operation, one at Colborne, the other at Grafton, strictly conducted upon sound Church principles… The Church at Grafton has for some time been completed, and maybe said to be a model for Village Churches. It is well fitted up inside, and neatly furnished. A set of communion plate and linen was procured last summer out of the Offertory Collections.”
The Church bell, bought in 1847 at a cost of £38 announced the beginning of the service. By 1851 pipe organs had been installed in both churches, and reference has been made to the assistance of Miss Wilson who may have been the first organist in Grafton.
After four years residence at Colborne the clergyman moved to Grafton as the following letter of December 6, 1849, indicates: "The Rev. J. Wilson having changed his residence begs that in future all Letters and Papers for him may be addressed to Grafton.”
The period 1844-54 was the time of growth that succeeded the winter of waiting. Two new, fully equipped churches, one of which was entirely free from debt, a settled clergyman, a Parsonage House and lot and a glebe for Trinity Church-these were no small achievements for comparatively small groups of people.
When in 1885 the chancel was enlarged by the Archdeacon as a memorial to his wife, the gallery was removed and the organ, which a few years previously had been placed in the North-East corner of the Church, was placed in the new chancel.
Repairs were being made in Grafton. To quote a clipping: “St. George's Church, in this village, has been greatly improved in the interior during the past summer. From a dingy barn-like structure it has been converted into a neat and comfortable parish Church. The seats have been so arranged as to give a centre aisle and two narrow side aisles, the old west-end gallery removed-and better heating and lighting accommodation secured. The new chancel which has been erected by the Venerable Archdeacon Wilson, in memory of his wife and daughter, is a very important addition to the Church.”
In February, 1901, the Rev. Charles Henry Brooks became Rector of Grafton.
In April, 1908, the congregation sustained a heavy blow when the old Church was destroyed by fire. For 64 years the life of the Parish had centred in this building. Two generations had been brought up in it. Every part spoke of loving care and effort. Small wonder that great grief and dismay was caused by the loss.
But here the mettle of the people and especially of the Rector showed itself. Mr. Brooks wrote to each former member of the Parish, asking for subscriptions to aid in re-building. Not only from them but from members of the congregation and from neighbouring parishes splendid help was received.
The new building was designed by Grant Helliwell of Toronto, and Charles E. Jex of Cobourg was the contractor. The organ was installed by Edward Lye and Son and the bell was cast by the Meneely Bell Co.
During the building of the Church, services were held in the in Rectory and in St. Andrew's Church, kindly offered to the congregation as a Church home.
The new Church was formally opened on February 17, 1909, and consecrated by Bishop Sweeny on March 25, 1909, just eleven months after the burning of the old Church - surely a worthy record.
In February 1915, the Rev. A. E. Lewis Was instituted as Rector of St. George's Church. Mr. Lewis resigned in the fall of 1916 and after a period in which services were given by the Rev. C. Lord, the Rev. F. A. Heffler was appointed. The latter was Rector until November 1921. His successor, the Rev. G.S. Postlethwaite, remained only a year and was followed by the Rev. A. E. Bruce who held the incumbency until 1928. In that year the Parish resumed its former close connection with Cobourg, the Assistant at St. Peter's, the Rev. E. R. Adye being placed in charge with the Rev. Dr. T. S. Boyle as Rector. This arrangement was but temporary and in 1931 the Rev. H. R. Deering was appointed, remaining until the coming of the present Incumbent in June 1933.
The Rev. Dr. Thomas R. Millman's ministry. He played an important part in the life of the parish. It was largely through his leadership that the work of restoration of the cemetery began. An endowment fund was established and a committee formed for the purpose of overseeing the work of restoration and enabling future records to be kept up-to-date. It was also during Dr. Millman's ministry, that the A.Y.P.A. organized concerts in the Town Hall, and elsewhere, in order to raise funds to purchase a linoleum runner for the centre aisle of the Church. This runner was removed to be replaced by a new one in 1972, after some thirty-two years of use.      ...Read More
In late Spring, 1937, the Rev. Thomas Arthur Nind and family were welcomed to the parish of St. George.
During Canon Nind's charge, St. George’s Church held it's Centenary Commemoration Services on September 10th, 1944.
Due to a decline in Church population, St. John's Church in the village of Centreton (where Mr. Nind also preached -many times walking the distance from Grafton to Centreton) was closed. The building was demolished and all Communion Vessels transferred to St. George’s Church.
Also, in this period of the Church History, the Church Farm was sold for the sum of $2,122.21. The proceeds were used to carry out extensive repairs to the Rectory, install a furnace and pay the annual allotment. Canon Nind served this parish for fifteen years, 1931-1952, prior to his retirement.
The Rev. Percival Newman Knight and Mrs. Knight came to the parish of St. George in 1952. Always kind and courteous, and endowed with an ever-present sense of humour, Mr. Knight served this parish faithfully until 1963.
He was an accomplished musician and extremely interested in working with the choir, especially the younger members. His weekly visits to Grafton Public School, and broadcasts of Morning Devotions over the Cobourg Radio Station, are well remembered
In September 1963, the Rev. James A. Kiddell, Mrs. Kiddell, and their daughter, Karen, arrived in Grafton. Many "firsts" were established during his ministry. For instance, the first Treasurer of St. George's Church was appointed by the Wardens; the first Mothering Day-Service preached by Mr. Kiddell; he was also, the first minister to distribute palms to the congregation on Palm Sunday. He trained Deputy Wardens and was the first incumbent to train boys as Servers at the Church of St. George, the Servers' Crosses being dedicated in memory of the Rev. Percival Newton Knight. Encouraged by Mr. Kiddell, members of the parish donated new Prayer Books in memory of loved ones. He also proposed a revision of the Sunday School programme, starting a Nursery for the very young children.
The Rev. Leonard Melville Ware was appointed Incumbent to St. George's Church Grafton, and Trinity Church Colborne, in 1966. One of Mr. Ware's many interests was restoring the old grave markers in the cemetery.
The need for a Parish Hall was first expressed in 1936. However, it was not until 1959 that a formal motion was made that money be raised to build a hall, and a serious drive for funds began immediately. The Rt. Rev. H.H. Marsh, retired Bishop of the Yukon, officiated at the turning of the first sod on July 12th, 1970, and on November 28th, 1970, the hall was officially dedicated by the Rt. Rev. Bishop Snell of Toronto as the Canon Nind Memorial Hall. All furnishings in the hall were donated.
The Reverend Donald Franklyn Belway was appointed Incumbent to St. George's Church on September 1, 1979, a post he would hold for close to a decade.
In 1985, the book of Alternative Services was introduced, with a musical setting for the Gloria, the Sanctus and the Benedictus composed by Mr. Belway's friend, the Reverend Canon Howard Buckner. This alternative to the Book of Common Prayer is now in regular use at the church.
Mr. Belway always encouraged women to be involved in the church, and their role at St. George's expanded while he was there. Margaret (Gordon) Ryerson became the first woman to serve as a warden of St. George's, elected People's Warden at the annual meeting in January 1986. In July of 1987, the Reverend Judy Herron-Graham officiated at the celebration of the Eucharist, thereby becoming the first female priest to do so. Fellowship was promoted by Mr. Belway in his establishment of coffee hour in the parish hall after church the first Sunday of each month. This custom, begun in May 1984, also continues. Also during Mr. Belway's tenure, Grafton became home to a 24-unit seniors' residence, Haldimand Court, in 1980. This complex is administered by a board composed of representatives of the three Grafton Churches: St Mary's (Roman Catholic), St Andrew's (United) and St. George's.
The Reverend Arturo (Art) Riguero came to Grafton in July 1988 to be priest in charge of St. George's. He arrived from Nicaragua with no household possessions.
In the spring of 1989, members of St. George's joined with members of St. Mary's Church, St. Andrew's Church and Grafton Legion to organize deli very of Meals on Wheels to people in need of this service in the Grafton area. In 1989, the Diocese of Toronto celebrated its 150th anniversary. The Sesquicentennial Cross, a symbol of our commitment as a diocese to follow Jesus Christ, was passed from church to church throughout the diocese. On a warm Saturday morning in September, 15 members of St. George's walked with the 5' x 12' wooden cross from Shelter Valley road to the church where the cross was the focus of worship the next day.
The arrival of the Reverend Lesley Barclay as incumbent in September 1992 marked another milestone in the history of St. George's. Lesley was the first woman to hold this position.