Saturday, March 02, 2013

A Landmark Goes Up In Flames

The former Presbyterian church in Pugwash burned down this morning. As my husband and I drove over the bridge into the village at 9:40, I said, "Look at that white cloud billowing. Is that smoke?"
There is no pulp mill in town to produce steam like that.
"That's smoke," my husband agreed.
"Flue fire? I hope someone knows."
By the time we reached the sidestreet, we knew it was the Presbyterian church and the volunteer fire department was on the scene. 
The church had been closed and eventually sold last year because there were only six active members; recently it had opened as a daycare after being renovated. Mary Patterson, one of our community correspondents, lives across the street and her column this week will be full of unique details only a neighbour could provide, bu both OJ editor Charlie Weeks and I happened to be in Pugwash as well so we have full coverage of this story. As I left the scene, Charlie was taking photos of flames shooting out the window of the building and the basement. Quite shocking. Fire takes your breath away.
As sad as it is to lose one of this distinctive white clapboard country churches, I'm glad it was no longer an active church. Yes, there will be many people to say "Oh, I was married there" or "My children were baptized there" but no members will be left without their sanctuary, wondering where they will go tomorrow morning.

When Margaret Seitl, who runs Monty's in downtown Pugwash, stands at her cash register and looks out the huge storefront window, her view is straight up the street to the Presbyterian church perched at the top of the slope of the road. Like the loss of the twin towers from the skyline of Manhattan, Margaret's daily view will never be the same again.

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