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by : Ray
Published 30 October 2011

History of the Zorra Church in Embro

This interesting booklet outlines the history of the Knox Presbyterian Church in Embro since the creation of the first Zorra Church in 1832.

Among other interesting tidbits you will find here:

  • an overview of the initial settlement of the Zorra area by Highlanders evicted from their ancestral farms by the infamous "clearances" of 1812-1820;
  • an account of the building of the first Zorra church, the Old Log Church ("auld kirk"), in 1833, and of the construction under the guidance of its first minister, the locally very famous (and bilingual English-Gaelic) minister Donald McKenzie, of the magnificent new church in 1861-3 (now the Embro United Church);
  • mention of the erection by the Rev. McKenzie of his own fine stone house "Glenness" in the 1830s, which our own ancestors James and Helen Smith acquired in 1873;
  • an account of the break-off of a number of influential members (including our ancestors Margaret McWilliam and her husband David Innes) to form the more evangelical Ebenezer Congregational Church in 1872;
  • a detailed log of life in the community in the 1870s by a church member, notably documenting the continued usage of Gaelic for many sermons and ceremonies;
  • a description of the impact of the First World War on the Zorra community;
  • an account of the split in the Knox Presbyterian Church in 1925, when a majority left to join the newly-founded United Church of Canada;
  • confirmation of the use of Gaelic for services up until 1929 at least (!).