The archival committee of St. James, Fenelon Falls recently completed an online exhibit for Digital Museums Canada entitled “Anne Langton: An Anglican Church Woman in Fenelon Falls.” The story explores how an Englishwoman in 1835 transformed Fenelon Falls and herself through her faith, hard work and vision. We learn through St. James’ archives and Anne Langton’s own journals and letters that the church was successfully established despite the very hard conditions of Upper Canada in 1835.
The journals of Anne Langton reveal not only the history and establishment of St. James in Fenelon Falls, but also the culture of the first half of the 19th century. Ms. Langton could be compared to a modern-day social media blogger. Her journals and letters, along with those of her brother John and her own miniature paintings, help to describe the community of Fenelon Falls and the establishment of St. James in the early 1800s.
In addition to the journals, letters and artwork, the exhibit includes interviews with Fenelon Falls resident Barbara Dunn-Prosser, whose mother found the Anne Langton miniature sketches in the 1970s. Ms. Dunn-Prosser describes the legacy of Anne Langton and her importance to the culture of both Fenelon Falls and to St. James.
The exhibit also contains a soaring view of Fenelon Falls obtained by a drone camera, a ghostly walk up the stone stairs to a graveyard at the site of the original church and detailed close-up camera work of Anne Langton’s original miniature sketches and paintings.
In all, the exhibit comprises 22 videos and 98 images. Each image tells an additional story within the gallery. The exhibit is in English, French and described video, and all videos have closed captioning in both English and French.
Churches contribute significantly to the establishment and history of a community. St. James’ archives and artifacts, both religious and secular, have survived for over 185 years. Past congregational members left an invaluable collection of letters, historical research, marriage certificates and so much more that contributed to this project. When combined with historical data from other sources like a museum or personal family journals and letters, a community’s culture is revealed.
St. James is honoured to have received an original sketch of the “log church” completed by Anne Langton in 1840. The chalice and paten used in that first log church is still being used at services at St. James. St. James also has the original Sunday School cabinet, which was made from the butternut trees of the Langton farm. That cabinet has been restored and is still used today.
The parish’s archival committee formed partnerships with other community members in Fenelon Falls to complete the project, and its members are grateful to everyone who contributed to this project. The City of Kawartha Lakes archives granted its permission to use and photograph the miniature sketches of Anne Langton, while editor Barbara Williams gave permission for the use of the published journals.
Every church has a story, and every story reveals a community’s culture. It is important that as the Church moves forward, we continue to pay respect to our past.
Submitted by the archival committee of St. James, Fenelon Falls. The exhibit is available on the Digital Museums Canada website at tinyurl.com/annelangton.