You can’t help but notice the Rectory as you walk along Ontario Street in Collingwood. The beauty and honesty of the Rectory’s stone work, its texture and colour, its stately presence, all invite you to pause for a moment to take in its view. It is stone solid and yet warm and inviting. It is difficult to argue with the invitation.
Sitting back a little from the road ... the Rectory seems at peace.
Having been constructed circa 1878, the Rectory has, indeed, stood a short distance east from the main street of Collingwood for a very long time, nestled not far from the beauty of Georgian Bay. Sitting back a little from the road, as if politely keeping its distance from the traffic, the Rectory seems at peace. Indeed, it seems ready to gift its peace to any passerby who pauses long enough to receive it. Fully aware of, and comfortable with, its place on the street and what it stands for, the Rectory asks its observer to reflect on what it means to be true to one’s history and values.
Thus, what inspires one about this example of Gothic Revival architecture is not just its perseverance and stately age, its faithfulness in sheltering its occupants from the elements. What inspires is also this feeling that you get in your physical encounter of it, as it reminds you of both the importance of history on the one hand, and the importance of being true to one’s values in the present moment, on the other. The beauty and honesty of its construction ask the observer to be honest, not only with others, but more fundamentally and foundationally with oneself.
The Rectory on Ontario Street in Collingwood is associated with the All Saints’ Anglican Church on Elgin Street. The two buildings are both fine examples of nineteenth century architecture. The Church was built first in 1858, after six men of the congregation mortgaged all that they had to raise the funds for the initial structure. Six men, you might say, of inspiring faith.
The Rectory came later. It is not an imposing building, but it is a beautiful one. Its Gothic Revival architecture was itself a calling to the observer. The term “Gothic”, of course, reminds us of the medieval period. It reminds of medieval architecture, an architecture inspired by faith. It was, in a sense, a call to faith. One has to think only of the great constructions of faith in Europe, whereby the eye is drawn
upwards to contemplate what exists above the routine, and the encumbrances, of the everyday.
If we consider that the nature of modernity is characterized, at least in part, by the secular and by a crisis of faith, then reflecting upon the nature of a “revival” of the Gothic makes the intent of the revival of medieval architecture clear enough. Gothic Revival, then, aspired to a return to the faith of the middle ages, to a simplicity of faith, to a recapturing of the awe which buildings rising to great heights inspired, and thus reasserted a place for faith in a secular world.
One might even reflect on the architecture of the Parliament Buildings of Canada. This is, in good part, Revival Gothic architecture too, one which seems to ask Canadians to reflect on the nation as being more than the sum of its parts.
The Rectory reflects the peace and serenity of the equestrian lifestyle.
The Rectory, indeed, will make a fine new home for Red Scarf Equestrian (RSE) as it reflects the peace and serenity of an equestrian lifestyle, firmly rooted in the countryside. Collingwood itself is surrounded by both exquisite countryside and a solid equestrian presence. Indeed, the design of the building is a direct copy of “Claverleigh,” a Gothic Revival house situated in the countryside just outside of Creemore.
RSE believes the equestrian lifestyle means in part taking the time for the things that truly matter.
The Rectory seems a beautiful place in which RSE will labour to achieve its mission of promoting the deeper values of the equestrian lifestyle, values such as that of peace, serenity, quality, beauty, handcraftsmanship and honesty. The mission of RSE includes identifying the value of living at peace with technology, and the value of the horse in our present and past. RSE believes the equestrian lifestyle to be an unhurried one, which means taking the time for the things that truly matter.
We look forward to welcoming you to 75 Ontario Street!
Westfall, William, “Epics in Stone: Placing the Sacred in a Secular World” in Two Worlds: The Protestant Culture of Nineteenth-Century Ontario (Kingston, ON: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1989)
A Visitor’s Guide to All Saints’ Anglican Church