Postcard Memories is a weekly series of historic postcard views and photos submitted by René Hackstetter.
Founded in 1914, Bonar Church, Port McNicoll, famously, held the annual Mariners’ Service.
“Ships streaming lights shine over the Congregation and three double strokes on a ship’s bell, six in all, ring sharply. In ship’s time this signifies the hour of church service," The Telegram's Ernest Bartlett wrote of the second Mariners’ Service in a story entitled 'Praises Parts Played by Men of the Sea.'
“It is a service of thanksgiving for the opportunity to once more go down to the sea in ships; a service of remembrance for those who, in the last season, sailed away, never to return.”
Captain James McCannell was responsible for the Mariners’ Service and the church was always packed. The hoisting of the Blue Peter, a signal flag indicating a voyage was to be commenced, opened the service.
It is stated that, “... above the heads of the congregation, numbering near three hundred on that second anniversary of the Mariners’ Service, were worn signal flags...before them, to each side of the pulpit, hung a Union flag and a Pilot Jack, Ship’s life-rings, port and starboard lights, a model of the S.S. Assiniboia- Captain McCannell’s command for twenty-four years - a ship’s log. Each and all pointed to the fact that the service was for Mariners."
Jamie McCannell, son of Captain James, has an extraordinary memory for detail and during our talk we covered many subjects beyond Bonar Church. His reminiscences point to the intimate connections between members of the community of Port McNicoll and its growth as a town of considerable importance
We can certainly see the part Bonar Presbyterian Church played in the lives of the captains and the crews. In 2017, Port McNicoll celebrated one hundred years as a municipality. The Trestle was erected in 1908 and the slip built the same year. Bonar has always been an important part of this community at every milestone.
Jamie mentioned that much of Port McNicoll was composed of the two Bourrie farms and the Ney farm, today, much divided, developed and transformed into homes for many in the community.
We do not necessarily always recognize the lineaments of the old world, either geographically or visually, but it still persists for the young to discover it again and again.
Is this not some of the message conveyed to us, semaphore like, through the fog of our unknowing? The old transforms, but never dies, it changes form continuously...ever newer forms manifesting themselves, containing all of the elements of the old.
Copyright. René Hackstetter April 14, 2020.