Methodist Church Canning Mills 1896

Canning Mills School Building that was Used for Church Services

Research by Gordon Freegard

A large school-room which was provided by the Canning Jarrah Timber Company which operated the Canning Mills, in 1891, it was also intended to be used as a place of worship. This must have pertained for some years with an encouraging number of worshippers for, on 22nd May 1896 The Western Mail reported ‘Rev. Rowe accepted a tender for a church. The company is to donate the timber. It will be for the use of any religious body to conduct church services’. The Reverend G.E. Rowe represented the Wesleyan Methodist Church, which does seem to have been attentive respecting regular visits to several mill settlements, by lay preachers or ‘Home Missioners’. According to the Western Mail for 6th May 1893 Rev. Rowe had been posted to Perth from Unley in South Australia, that year, where there had been a suggestion, refuted by the minister, that it was like going to Siberia!

Mr. Frank Wilson, the Managing Director of the Canning Jarrah Timber Company and Reverend G. E. Rowe attended a public tea and entertainment in the old school room on the Saturday evening. The new Methodist Church was opened the next day, on Sunday, 16th August 1896 by the Reverend G. E. Rowe who preached the opening service. Mr. Frank Wilson remained at the Mills for the opening services. In October, the Wesleyan Mission held its second Annual Wildflower Show at Canning Mills. ‘The hall was decorated with evergreens and wildflowers.

At the Annual Synod of the Wesleyan Methodist Church in November 1896 it was reported that they were erecting one church building every month and there is every indication that this rate will increase. Ten churches, two manses, and a lecture hall have been built since the last synod. The new churches have been erected at Coolgardie, Kalgoorlie, Great Boulder, Broad Arrow, Black Flag, Canning Mills Plympton, Victoria Park, Subiaco and Yalgoo.

Government figures for 1897 show that there was an estimated Sunday attendance of 75 at the Wesleyan Methodist Church, which held an average of 60 services a year. The church was looked after by one clergyman and three lay readers. Regular reports continued to suggest visits either by Rev. Rowe himself, as part of a circuit of mill towns or by others such as the Reverend C. G. Carvosso.

When Rev. Carvosso arrived in 1899 from Newcastle (now Toodyay) he was actually changing places with Rev. W. R. Lang, who was leaving Canning Mills to replace Carvosso. On 18th April it was reported by the Western Mail that, following a lantern lecture by Rev. Corly Butler to ‘a large gathering’ at Canning Mills, a social was held to farewell Rev. W. R. Lang. ‘Tributes were paid and ladies and gentlemen contributed songs.’

After the mills closed in 1903 a small community of timber workers remained at Canning Mills. At some point the Methodist Church was leased to the Education Department for use as the local school at least until the late 1920s.

In 1932 a Methodist homes young Men’s movement had been formed had been formed. The aim of the young men now was to remove the old church buildings from Canning Mills to Werribee Boys’ Farm for use as a schoolroom and hall. How ever it appears this did not happen because according to the Minutes of the Western Australian Methodist Conference permission to sell the church at Canning Mills was given in 1932 and each year after until 1939. The church building was sold in 1943 to the National Fitness Council.

In the Daily News it was reported on Tuesday 29th December 1942 that the first link in the chain of youth hostels which the National Fitness Council hopes to establish throughout the south-west is in sight. The council had obtained an old church at Canning Mills, and hope to buy a house opposite, to convert into quarters for young men and women.

Reference: Article: Carol Mansfield
                                Pickering Brook Heritage Group

St. Hilda's Anglican Church - Canning Mills 1899

Research by Gordon Freegard

There seems little doubt that Canning Mills was a thriving enterprise in the late 1890s, which must have been expected to continue, for in February of that year ‘plans were approved for the building of a church at Canning Jarrah Timber Station on a site given by the timber company. In May 1899 it was reported the the new church was now in the course of erection

On 14th July The Western Mail reported ‘On Saturday Bishop Riley and Reverend C. E. C. Lefroy proceeded to Canning Jarrah Mills to open a new church on land given by the government.’ The timber for the church was a valuable gift from the Canning Jarrah Timber Company. The money for the erection was obtained partly by a grant from one of the church societies, the S.P.C. – and partly by local contributions, which were both liberally and readily given. The existence of this church is, in fact, largely due to the strong desire and active co-operation of the many people at Canning Mills. The plan was a gift from Messrs. Wilkinson and Smith, and the builders were Messrs. Straw and McSwain, of Midland Junction. Evidently it was ‘a pretty church and will be known as St Hilda’s. After the service a child was baptised.’

The ‘pretty church’ remained at the settlement until 1904 (the Mills having closed in 1903) when it was given a new life in North Perth. Under ‘Dedication of St Hilda’s, North Perth’ The Western Australian Church News for March 26 reported ‘This church, formerly standing at Canning Mills and removed thence to a site recently purchased – – – was dedicated by his Lordship on Sunday March 6 at 4.30pm. – – – The building, which is wood and iron, is of large dimensions and churchlike character, 40 feet x 20 feet, with a nice large chancel and a porch.

In 1904, a wooden building was transported from Canning Mills and erected on the corner of Rose and View Streets. (Rose Street was later re-named Glebe Street) was used for church services until St Hilda’s Anglican Church was constructed on the site in 1915. With the consecration of a permanent church building the Parish Title was changed to St. Hilda’s North Perth, named after Hilda, Addess of Whitby c. 664 A.D.


References: Article: Carol Mansfield
Pickering Brook Heritage Group

Images: 1, 2 St. Hilda’s Church North Perth