As you enter Elora on the Elora Road from Guelph or from Conestoga, you will find a cairn at the southwest corner of Highways 7 and 21. This cairn, constructed of original cemetery stones, marks the plot of land where the original Church of St. John the Evangelist was first built in 1842. The parish was established in 1830.
The present building, a red brick structure in the Gothic revival style, is located on the corner of Henderson and Smith Street, in the upper end of the village. It was designed by Henry Langley and built in 1875. Adjacent to the church is the Parish Centre, a restored heritage building, which houses our office space, meeting rooms, and music library.
The nave and chancel is known for some beautiful stained glass windows. The beautiful art work on the walls and ceiling was painted by Gordon Couling AOCA, late professor of Fine Arts at the University of Guelph. Icons were created by local iconographer, Symeon van Donkelaar, of Conestoga Iconographic Studio. Many of the seasonal altar frontals were designed and made by local textile artist, Elizabeth Litch.
Over the years, St. Johns has developed from a three point rural charge, comprising of Elora, Drayton, and Alma, into an active one point charge, with Christ Church Drayton as a Chapel of St John's.
St. John's has been blessed with a rich heritage of music, liturgy, and education. In 1972 St John's established St. John's School for Boys on site, and in 1975 St Margaret's Girls School, as a way to provide education for local children that had at its foundation an Anglican tradition of music and liturgy. In 1985 the two schools amalgamated and in 1990 the initiative formed what is now known as St John's-Kilmarnock School, the only International Baccalaureate School in southwest Ontario providing a JK to Grade 12 education, located on a beautiful 36 acre campus in Breslau.
Even though there is no historical evidence that they ever met, the first Rector, Rev'd John Smithurst, held Florence Nightingale, the founder of the profession of nursing, as his beloved. There is a stained glass window to both of them in the southwest corner of the church. It is thought that Florence Nightingale sent John Smithurst a gift of communion vessels, a silver chalice and paten, in gratitude for his ministry and as an expression of her love. The chalice and paten are presently in a display case at the church. Each July, in partnership with the Elora Festival, St. John's issues the Nightingale Award to a member of the community for their outstanding service and commitment.
With the warm and rich acoustics in the building, St. John's has been blessed with a long tradition of sacred choral music. Presently we have one of Canada's only fully professional church choirs. We partner with the Elora Festival every July, and we are the home venue for the Elora Singers since 1979.
The organ at St. John’s, Elora, was originally built in 1899 by the Karn-Warren firm of Woodstock, Ontario, for St. Jude’s Anglican Church in Oakville. In 1937, the two-manual tracker instrument was rebuilt by Casavant Freres of St-Hyacinthe, Quebec as their Opus 1546, providing entirely new windchests with electro-pneumatic action and a new console. Two new ranks of pipes were added, although all of the original Karn-Warren pipework was revoiced and retained. When St. Jude’s Church decided to replace the instrument with an electronic substitute in 1968, the organ was sold to St. John’s. Ross Dodington, then working for the local Casavant representative, Alan T. Jackson, was assigned to dismantle the organ and transplant it to its a new home.
By the mid-1960s the small Breckels & Matthews organ at St. John’s, dating from the early 1900s, was becoming increasingly unreliable due to its tubular-pneumatic action. With the arrival of a new rector, Robert Hulse, a high priority for church music was set, and it was decided to replace the ailing instrument. Hulse, assisted by a parishioner, Jamie Douglas, arrived in Oakville driving a canvas-covered hay truck to transport the disassembled instrument nearly 100 kilometres to its new home. Briefly delayed by a rainstorm, during which Hulse and the organ took cover under a viaduct on the highway, the instrument arrived in Elora early in the summer of 1968.
(not a full list)
2018-present Canon Paul J. Walker
2005-2016 Canon Dr. Patrick D. M. Patterson
1964-2003 Canon Robert Hulse
Rev C. L. Loat
-1877 Rev C. E. Thompson
1852-1857 Rev John Smithurst