Thin Ice

Elizabeth Simcoe travelled to the Bay of Quinte with her husband, the Governor of Ontario. John Graves Simcoe was governor of Upper Canada, 1791-1796. He is known for founding York (Toronto), courts of law, trial by jury, freehold land tenure and abolition of slavery in Canada. In her diary she describes how the people are experts in saving horses from drowning. Around the horses necks are ropes, when they fall through the ice, pulling the rope stops their breath and then they float and can be pulled out. They remove the rope as quickly as possible and the horse travels on.

The choke rope was a small strap of rope or leather by which the bridle is fastened around the neck of a horse.

On the Bay of Quinte the circuit had 47 stops, with three preachers in charge given six weeks to cover the territory. Switzerville, was an important and central stop. There were 966 Methodist members. It was in 1822, at the Switzerville chapel the first death of the Canadian Methodist itinerancy occurred. Described as an indefatigable, soldierly, persevering and attractive preacher of the circuit, J. G. Peale, had a cold when he reached Adolphustown, but preached at Hay Bay that Sunday. During the night the bay had frozen over, and the water was glare ice. It was too smooth to walk on and too thin for a horse. Resolved to fulfil his engagement the Rev Peale walked across on stocking feet, a journey of 20 miles. He was overheated in the Church and chilled on the ice, but reached Switzerville and preached. Afterwards he went to Christopher Switzer’s his usual resting place and became worse, delirious and died. His final words were, Father Switzer might have led the class, referring to Peter Switzer, my 7th great grandfather. The conference held in 1828, at Switzerville marked the beginning of the history of Canadian Methodism as an independent church.

The name Switzerville originated from an early settler, Christopher Switzer, who along with his family settled in the area and was a “palatine” Methodist. Many Methodists were from upper New York States and came in large numbers to settle Ontario. All of the names listed here are on my tree: Switzer, Embury, Detlor, Miller, Huffman, Heck, Dulmage, Lawrence, Madden, Empey and Neville.

On October 2, 1828, forty eight of the most important Episcopalian preachers along with other Methodists met at the Switzerville Chapel to formally declare an independent Canadian Methodist Church. These Canadians attended the Chapel and erected their tents in the unused portions of the cemetery where they sang and showed off their crafts. While today the Chapel is gone the cemetery remains, reminding me of where these Methodists settled, worshipped, lived and died.

Cemetery located at Switzerville, Lennox and Addingtonton Country, Ontario Canada

Switzerville United Church Cemetery

Christopher Switzer my 6th great uncle, obituary reads: Christopher was born in Limerick, Ireland and died at Switzerville, Ernestown Township, Lennox and Addington County, Ontario, Canada,

Died in Ernestown, U.C. Mr. Christopher Switzer, in the 67th year of his age, in the full hope of immortality, after having lived in the favor and service of God for about thirty years. He was a native of Ireland, but emigrated to America with his parents in 1774, and in 1806 Christopher moved to Ernestown. He was made the leader of a class and steward and was eminently useful. His death was sudden and painful. Being told he was dying, he cheerfully replied, “Bless the Lord; I am going to join with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the Kingdom of God.

Cemetery pictures credit from to Switz and Richard G. Parry U.E.

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