Anne Krug

Anne Krug was one of the last in a steady line of Fairlawn members who entered the ministry.

Anne Krug was one of the last in a steady line of Fairlawn members who entered the ministry.

The name and images of Anne Krug turn up in various places around Fairlawn. Her photo is on the wall at the back of the Sanctuary as well as in the Birtch Room. The piano at the front of the Sanctuary is dedicated to her. And the east wing of the church — home to the choir rooms and offices for music and Spirit Space — is the Anne Krug Wing.

Fondly remembered by many long-time Fairlawn worshipers, Krug was the Assistant Minister to Rev. Frank Meadows until she died of cancer at age 43. But her ties to Fairlawn go back much further than her ministry.

In 1975, it was Krug, as a member of the Mission & Resources Committee, who presented a motion at the annual general meeting to create an annual $5,000 scholarship for Metis students as a way to celebrate Fairlawn’s 60th anniversary.

Entering the ministry
She began studying for the ministry the following year. It was a change in direction for the educator who had been teaching modern languages at North Toronto Collegiate for a decade. But not so surprising to her minister George Birtch who later noted that “Anne has always been at home in the church environment. She was brought up in a home where Christian faith is central and where involvement in the church’s life and work is as natural as breathing.”

Her father, Rev. Crossley Krug, was a long-time United Church minister who began attending Fairlawn with his wife Eleanor after his retirement. Growing up in Toronto, Anne Krug attended Havergal College and the University of Toronto before spending a year teaching English in West Germany.

While pursuing the ministry at the Centre for Christian Studies, she did her field work at Regent Park United Church (now the site of the CRC). She forged ties between RPUC and Fairlawn through financial contributions from our church and by having Fairlawn’s Kris Kringle’s Kapers perform at the Regent Park church and nearby Lord Dufferin school.

Krug began assisting Birtch three afternoons a week in 1977 doing visitation and helping with Christian Education, Social Concerns and Mission & Service. She became a Fairlawn minister in the fall of 1980, being installed at the same time as Meadows was inducted as the new senior minister.

A long battle with cancer
Within a few years, the cancer that was moving through her system began to take a toll on her work, requiring exhausting treatment. “Her own illness made her all the more sensitive to the need and the pain of others,” remembered Birtch. “Her victorious battle to keep her own faith strong during the discouragements of her days made her a special comfort to struggling people.”

Krug died of cancer on September 10, 1983.

A few months later, Crossley and Eleanor Krug donated their living room grand piano to Fairlawn in memory of their daughter. It still sits near the front-row pews. An Anne Krug Memorial Fund was established to restore and maintain the instrument.

The piano’s debut was in a performance by Carol Birtch (Rev. George’s wife) on June 12, 1984, accompanied by her daughter Marianne Pack on cello. Pack was a student of Anne Krug and still performs at Fairlawn — most recently for last Sunday’s special music.

Gary Schlee

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The Meadows Years

The task of finding a new minister to replace Rev. George Birtch began in earnest in December 1979. A large committee of about 20 members was pulled together for the search, including Sylvia Dixon, Barb Doran, David Klaehn and Ruth Mary Wood. The Presbytery rep on the committee was Rev. Hanns Skoutajan from St. James-Bond.

While the group spent the next months narrowing the list down to a successful candidate, the life of the church carried on. In fact, Birtch didn’t actually retire until June 1980. During that period, a new Sunday School curriculum called Shared Approaches was introduced.

Les Davis, Mary Hall and others, including Joe Brown of Eglinton United, helped breathe life into HINTS (Housing in North Toronto for Seniors, later to become SPRINT). An outcome of their efforts was the Joseph Brown Manor for seniors on Yonge Street north of Lawrence.

The church celebrated its 65th anniversary, organized by Peter Heinz. The guest preacher for the milestone was Rev. Bob Trimble, who grew up at Fairlawn when his father, George, was the minister. The year 1980 also saw the arrival of the Quach family from Vietnam, refugees sponsored by Fairlawn.


Rev. Frank Meadows was awarded an honorary doctorate by Montreal’s United Theological College in 1995.

Rev. Frank Meadows
A decision was made to extend the call to Rev. Frank Meadows of Parkminster United in Waterloo. A native of Montreal, Meadows was a school teacher for several years before returning to McGill to study theology. He was ordained in 1962 and served at churches in St. Therese, Saskatoon and Waterloo.

In addition to preaching, he had a keen interest in music. While working as a teacher, he had a second job as organist and choir director at Beaurepaire United in Quebec. His wife Joyce sang in the Fairlawn choir, certainly not the first, or last, minister’s spouse to do so. She balanced that with work on her doctorate in late medieval history at the University of Toronto.

Meadows remained at Fairlawn for eight years before accepting a call at First-St. Andrew’s United in London. He retired in 2000 and died in 2011.

A look at the 80s

  • Fall 1980: Meadows is joined by a new staff team that includes Ann Krug, assistant minister, and Lyn Healey, secretary.
  • Fall 1981: Birtch becomes Minister Emeritus, while John McCarthy heads up the Property committee — a role he will play many times over the next quarter century.
  • January 1, 1982: Music Director Victor McCorry is replaced by a young Queen’s music grad, Eleanor Daley.
  • Fall, 1982: Marjorie Flower is the Sunday School coordinator, while new choir members include Jim Benson and Heather Heinz (de la Rua).
  • December 1983: a musical Cabaret is presented that features Sal Brancaccio on accordion and jitterbug dancers from the Sunday school: Laura Heinz (Ziliotto) and Anna Brace.
  • February 1984: Ted Sasaki becomes chair of the council, replacing Bill Lundy who died the following summer.
  • April 1984: Birtch becomes chair of the Fred Victor Mission.
  • March 1985: Fairlawn’s 70th anniversary  service welcomes guest preacher Rev. Hanns Skoutajan from St. James-Bond.
  • February 1986: John Kimmel becomes chair of the Worship committee — a role he will play a number of times over the next quarter century.
  • Winter 1986: Sunday School teachers include Kathleen Wynne, Carol MacLellan and Helena Lea, while one of the choir’s tenor soloists is Michael Burgess.
  • Winter 1987: Kay Ball, chorister and council secretary, replaces Lyn Heeley as the staff secretary.
  • February 1988: Peter Flemington replaces Elizabeth Lundy as chair of the council.

Gary Schlee

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The Birtch Years


After his retirement, Rev. George W. Birtch returned to the Donwood Institute to conduct Sunday services.

Rev. George Birtch is the man behind the room name on the second floor of the church. When he received the call to be Fairlawn’s minister in February 1975, he was already a very familiar face to the congregation.

On two previous occasions, Birtch stepped in as Fairlawn’s minister, first in Spring 1971 after Rev. Alan McCuaig  was hospitalized with a blood clot, and again following McCuaig’s death a month before Christmas in 1974.

Birtch already had a long, distinguished career in the United Church, having served congregations in Tavistock, London, Hamilton and Toronto. He had chaired various United Church boards, spent six years in China, acted as Provost at the University of Guelph and was the Director of Community Services at the Donwood Institute when he began his association with Fairlawn.

Before Birtch officially began full-time, the church celebrated its 60th anniversary with an old fashioned hymn and church service (sound familiar?) presided over by the council’s chair, Reg Bull. The guest preacher was Rev. Allen Tomlinson of Armour Heights United. He grew up attending Fairlawn and was sponsored by the church for the ministry. He and his wife Judy recently attended part of the Fairlawn100 Weekend celebrations.

A week later there was an Anniversary Dinner with Les Davis as emcee; the speaker was the church treasurer, Mac Hall. Diamond Anniversary plates ($2) and coffee cups ($1.50) were produced and sold during the year.

Longtime member Harvey Robinson, who was an elder for 43 years, was presented with a portrait of the church painted by Alice Guy and signed by many well-wishers. He retired to the Ottawa Valley and died soon after. The painting was donated back to the church and hangs in the Library, just inside the door.

The church’s outreach project to mark the occasion was the creation of a scholarship for a Metis student, first proposed by Ann Krug of the Mission & Resources Committee. Winners in the first year of Project60 were Sharon Shadow, a Tlingit from the Yukon; Vera Asp, a Tahltan from the Yukon; and Mary Neganiwina, an Ojibway from Spanish River. In the second year, scholarships went to Carmen Jones, an Ojibway from Garden River, and Teresa Doxidator of the Six Nations.

A look at the late 70s

  • Fall 1975: Member Jamie Scott assists Birtch as student minister before his ordination in 1976 and his move to Big Rover, Saskatchewan.
  • 1975-76: The Sunday School coordinator is Sylvia Dixon; teachers include Mary Hall, Catherine Picard, and Eleanor and Peter Heinz.
  • Winter 1976: Former council chair Reg Bull and his wife Audrey move to Niagara-on-the-Lake; the third chair is Tim Deeth (son of Marg, brother of Carolyn).
  • Fall 1976: Retired minister Rev. Dr. James Finlay joins Birtch to help with visitation.
  • Fall 1976: David Low, a music teacher at Jarvis Collegiate, replaces Alan Stewart as organist and choirmaster.
  • Fall 1978: Victor McCorry, who teaches at the Royal Conservatory, becomes the new organist and choirmaster.
  • Christmas 1978: The Buchanan Memorial Seminars are launched following the death of Rev. Thomas Buchanan; the first presenter is Margaret Deeth who speaks about early childhood education.
  • Karen (Mole) Oldford serves as church secretary during the Birtch years before entering the Salvation Army ministry program.
  • Winter 1979: Bev Carruthers becomes the fifth chair of council, succeeding Michael Jarvis.
  • A long-awaited project crawls closer to reality: a small parking lot carved into the lawn on the east side of the church.
  • Spring 1979: Birtch announces his plans to retire in June 1980.


Gary Schlee

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The McCuaig Years [2]

Rev. Alan McCuaig was back in the pulpit in late 1971 after recovering from his cerebral embolism. Assisting him was the ever-present Rev. Thomas Buchanan.

While he was away, he had missed the confirmation of teens into the congregation the previous May, a group that included two current members: Carolyn Deeth and Carol McMulkin (MacLellan). Fairlawn also began taping church services in 1971 and the Junior Choir was revived.

Council gets a lay chairperson
Two years later, a major shift occurred to Fairlawn’s governance. Since its beginnings in 1915, the church’s council had always been chaired by the minister, the latest being McCuaig. But following changes to how United Church congregations could govern themselves, Fairlawn elected its first council in January 1973 not chaired by a minister.

Reginald Bull was the first lay chair of the board. The position evolved into a two-year appointment, a system that continues with the current Governing Council, chaired by Derek Wishart, the 23rd chair in the past 42 years.

Other members of the first lay-chaired council included Mac Hall (father of Ruth) who served as Fairlawn’s treasurer for many years, Tim Deeth (Marg’s son) on membership, and new member Connie Bartell (Buck) handling Outreach.

Wu and Scott
Also in 1973, McCuaig and Buchanan were joined by Rev. Ernest Wu as assistant minister. He had recently transferred from the United Christian Church of Hong Kong and stayed at Fairlawn for a year and a half before accepting a call to Downsview United Church.

Fairlawn member Jamie Scott, who had just graduated from the University of Toronto, was the young chair of Worship. Scott recently attended the Fairlawn100 Weekend. In the summer of 1973, he became a candidate for the ministry to begin studies at Emmanuel College. As a Fairlawn candidate for ministry, he followed his father Rev. John Scott who had also been a Fairlawn ministry candidate.

Selling the Golfdale manse
In winter 1974, the church sold its manse at 21 Golfdale Road. Some of the money from the $74,000 sale was used to pay off the church’s debt, making it debt-free for the first time in 15 years.

The second council was chaired by Larry Marshall. One of the new council members was Peter Heinz looking after Mission & Resources. Fairlawn also had a new organist and choirmaster in 1974: Douglas Webb. He had served in similar roles at First United in Port Credit and Lawrence Park Community Church and was working on his doctorate of music.

The loss of McCuaig
On November 25, 1974, McCuaig died suddenly of a heart attack. He had preached the previous day. Again, Buchanan stepped in to help with day-to-day needs while the congregation determined its next steps.

Rev. George Birtch of the Donwood Institute became the interim guest preacher — as he had done during McCuaig’s previous illness. The ‘interim’ would soon be dropped from his title.

Gary Schlee

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The McCuaig Years [1]

Rev. Richard Davidson accepted a call to St. Andrew’s United on Bloor Street in 1968 and the Fairlawn congregation set about finding a replacement. In the interim, worship was in good hands with Rev. Thomas Buchanan, the assistant minister who had been at Fairlawn since 1960, and the recently hired supply minister Rev. Gordon Burgess.

Although Burgess was interested in the full-time position, the search committee was looking for someone with more experience. That someone was Rev. Alan McCuaig of St. Paul’s United in Orillia.


Rev. Alan McCuaig and his wife Elizabeth had four children: Margaret, David, Catherine and Ian.

McCuaig served in the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War before working as an advertising manager. Changing direction, he was ordained in 1951; probably not surprising considering his father Hugh was also a minister. That same year, he married Elizabeth Bonnell of New York. His first church was Arden-Mountain Grove (near Perth), which he helped build. Two years later, he became the first full-time minister at Plains West United in Hamilton before moving to Orillia in 1958.

His religious studies had taken him to Harvard and Yale, and he lectured at Hamilton Teachers’ College as well as McMaster University’s Institute of Alcohol Studies. His wife Elizabeth was a writer, having written for Ladies’ Home Journal as well as publishing the Hospitality Cook Book in 1960. She and their daughter Margaret sang in the choir. Several other choristers at the time still attend Fairlawn, including Bev Carruthers and Barb Doran.

The Sunday school curriculum was divided into three eight-week semesters. There was an active Ladies Bowling League that met regularly at Shea’s Bowl at the corner of Avenue and Cranbrooke. The UCW’s Book Sale was held in June. In the summer, the congregations of Fairlawn and Bedford Park United on Ranleigh doubled up, with services alternating between the two churches.

Embracing Care-Ring
Fairlawn’s major outreach initiative in the early 1970s was Care-Ring, a telephone help line for people facing health emergencies. There were 50 volunteers helping to staff the line. In 1975, Care-Ring moved to Armour Heights United on Dunblaine and expanded its service to ongoing assistance in addition to emergencies. United, Anglican, Roman Catholic and Jewish churches and synagogues participated — ten in all.

Care-Ring folded in 1983 because of a drop in phone requests and loss of volunteers. However, Fairlawn’s Les Davis and others moved their energy to the creation of a new community organization to address affordable housing for seniors. It became Senior Peoples’ Resources in North Toronto, or SPRINT, an agency that remains active in the neighbourhood today.

UPDATE: Fairlawn member Tom Clarke let us know that Care-Ring was actually started at St. James-Bond by June Laking who was a member of the congregation and an outreach staff person.  Care-Ring grew to other North Toronto churches, but its office occupied space at SJB until the organization closed.

Failing health
In the spring of 1971, McCuaig was hospitalized with a cerebral embolism or blood clot. Stepping in to preach during his absence were his father-in-law Rev. Dr. John Bonnell and Rev. Dr. George Birtch of the Donwood Alcohol Foundation. In October, Rev. Harold Hendershot took over.

Throughout the period that stretched to over half a year, Rev. Buchanan continued to pitch in wherever needed. Finally, in November, McCuaig returned to the pulpit. He would be there for just three more years.

Gary Schlee

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Davidson & Buchanan

Rev. Richard Davidson
With the retirement of Rev. George Trimble in 1960, a search for a new minister ended with a call to Rev. Richard Davidson of Sydenham Street United in Kingston.

Rev. Richard Davidson

Rev. Richard Davidson was at Fairlawn from 1960 to 1968.

Dick Davidson was ordained in 1938 and served briefly at several Ontario churches before becoming a military chaplain during the Second World War. After the war, he was the minister at Brampton’s Grace United before moving to Kingston in 1955.

In addition to preaching, Davidson was active in congregational leadership and pastoral care, as well as serving the United Church in various capacities nationally and internationally.

His eight years at Fairlawn took him through the lively sixties. When he left in 1968, he moved downtown to St. Andrew’s United where he eventually became Minister Emeritus.

Two years after his retirement, he wrote an article for the Ottawa Citizen in which he worried about the church placing social service and activism ahead of preaching the Gospel. The 1982 comment brought a response from Rev. W. Clarke MacDonald, the United Church’s deputy secretary of the mission division who called the article “distressing”. Later that same year, MacDonald became Moderator, and in 1988 he served as the Retired Supply Minister at Fairlawn.

Davidson died in 2010 at age 97.

Rev. Thomas Buchanan
No Assistant Minister in the church’s 100-year history was probably as loved as Rev. Thomas Buchanan, the India missionary who returned to Canada to make Fairlawn his home.

Born in Ireland, Buchanan was ordained in 1920 as a Presbyterian minister in Manitoba. He set off immediately for India where he spent the next four decades working in Rasalpura, Mhow, Mandleswar, Ratlam and Dhar — at one time serving as the vice-moderator of the United Church of North India. He retired in 1960 and arrived at Fairlawn about the same time as Davidson.

Buchanan remained at Fairlawn until his death in 1976, serving under Davidson, Rev. Alan McCuaig and Rev. George Birtch, first as Assistant to the Minister, then as Minister Emeritus after 1972.

Not long after arriving, he and his wife Isabel formed the Buchanan Sunshine Club for church seniors. Early members of the group included Ethel Atkinson whose parents were founders of the church and Ann Sanders whose legacy lives on in the Lucas-Sanders student scholarships.

The Buchanan Sunshine Club continued to meet long after the minister was gone. In the 1990s, it became the Buchanan-Allen Club and more recently the Tuesday Lunch Crowd.

Following his death, the congregation created the Buchanan Memorial Fund to raise $10,000 for a Buchanan Scholarship Fund for India and an ongoing Buchanan Assistance Fund. It also launched the Buchanan Memorial Seminars in 1978. One of the first speakers was Margaret Deeth who talked about early childhood education.

Working with Davidson and Buchanan during the sixties were:

  • student assistant Allen Churchill (1961-1964) who went on to found the Good News Christian Ministry weekly radio broadcasts in 2004 in Ottawa
  • associate minister Rev. Paul Tillman (1962-1966)
  • student assistant Michael Beacom (1964-1965)

Gary Schlee

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The Trimble Years [2]

The church of the 1940s and 1950s on Fairlawn had more than a large, burgeoning membership; it had a dizzying array of activities to go with it.

The Sunday school and youth groups were particularly dynamic. By the late 1950s, it took 65 teachers to handle the classes that took place each Sunday morning and afternoon. The Young People’s Union (YPU) had about 60 members that included some of the people profiled in earlier posts on this site — Elaine Bedford (McCarthy), David Stephens, Shirley Joyce and Dianne McNeeley (Bird). Plus, there was a Junior Young People group for teens and tweens up to 15. It would eventually be known as Hi-C.

Kappa Chi & Sursum Corda
The young men’s Bible class, Kappa Chi (Knights of Christ) was a busy force at Fairlawn. Every few years, its members would mount a large entertainment program that was actively promoted in the neighbourhood using sandwich boards, handbills and sound trucks.

Kappa Chi’s fundraising is the reason our gym is high enough for activities like basketball. It was discovered that the room wouldn’t be high enough unless the contractors dug five feet deeper at $1,000 a foot. The Bible class raised the money to make it happen.

Their counterparts — the young women’s Bible class — were members of Sursum Corda (lift up your hearts). Like Kappi Chi, they played an active role in the community. As did the sports teams. Fairlawn fielded several softball and hockey teams in inter-church leagues and often brought trophies home for their efforts.

For the adults, there were also options. Nearly 600 women belonged to either the Women’s Association or the Women’s Missionary Society. The latter had been a part of the church’s life almost from its inception in 1915. And yes, there was a club for the men, too.

Ministry students
A particular source of pride for Rev. George Trimble was the number of young men in his congregation who went on to become ministers. There were seven in all: Paul Morrow, Newton Reed, Robert Trimble, Donald Atkinson, Barry Moore, Allen Tomlinson and Douglas Flint.

Trimble never pushed Robert to enter the ministry and his son never really considered it until he spent a summer during university doing mission work in western Canada. He knew then that he wanted to enter the ministry. Robert was a guest preacher at Fairlawn on several occasions and died in 2014.

Tomlinson, another in the group, went on to serve as minister at Armour Heights United Church from 1968 to 1975.

Rev. Dr. George Trimble retired in 1960 and moved to Hamilton with his wife Lottie. He died there in 1967.

Gary Schlee

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