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Rev. James Sims 

Rev. James Sims

Male 1816 - Yes, date unknown

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  • Prefix  Rev. 
    Birth  1816  Insch, , Aberdeen, Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location  [1, 2, 3
    Gender  Male 
    Occupation  1851  Wellesley Twp., Waterloo Region, Ontario Find all individuals with events at this location  [3
    Minister 
    Religion  1851  Wellesley Twp., Waterloo Region, Ontario Find all individuals with events at this location  [3
    Baptist 
    Occupation  1852  Wellesley Twp., Waterloo Region, Ontario Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    baptist minister 
    Residence  1852  Wellesley Twp., Waterloo Region, Ontario Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    • Was staying with William Tilt, but listed as resident of Wellesley.
    Hall of Fame - Waterloo Region  2014 
    Education 
    • Rev. James Sims, education '97 Sims and his wife settled in the Queen's Bush, near Hawkesville, in 1837. He became an important religious and educational leader in the area, a longtime Baptist minister and an advocate for public education. Sims served as the first superintendent of schools for Woolwich and Wellesley, and was the first chairman of the Board of Public Instruction. Sims died in Waterloo in 1880.
    Name  James Sims 
    Eby ID Number  Waterloo-99138 
    Died  Yes, date unknown 
    Person ID  I99138  Generations
    Last Modified  24 Oct 2017 

    Father  James Sims,   b. 1776, , Aberdeenshire, Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 8 Oct 1858 
    Mother  Margaret Wisely,   b. 1779, , Aberdeenshire, Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 28 Jun 1859 
    Family ID  F40335  Group Sheet

    Family  Janet Harvey,   b. 1810, , Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Yes, date unknown 
    Married  1837 
    Children 
     1. Janet Sim,   b. 1837, , Ontario Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Yes, date unknown
     2. James Campbell Sim,   b. 1841, , Ontario Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Yes, date unknown
     3. Peter Sim,   b. 1843, , Ontario Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Yes, date unknown
     4. Councillor Peter Harvey Sims,   b. 1844, Waterloo Twp., Waterloo Region, Ontario Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Yes, date unknown
     5. William Andrew Sim,   b. 1846, , Ontario Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Yes, date unknown
    Family ID  F13980  Group Sheet

  • Photos
    Rev. James Sims
    Rev. James Sims
    Rev. James Sim
    Rev. James Sim
    Glenn Baechler Collection

  • Notes 
    • Blair Baptist Church

      The Baptist Church on Old Mill Road in Blair is said to have been built in 1854 by a Regular Baptist congregation. Rev. James Sim may have held Baptist services in this church, although his services are reported to have begun c.1845. Elder Sim, as he was said to have been called, had been ordained at Waterloo [Township] on October 5, 1841. "Elder Bayly preached the ordination sermon" (Canada Baptist Magazine, December 1, 1841, pg. 138).

      Rev. Sim is reported to have travelled from his home in Hawkesville in Wellesley Township to the Blair area every other weekend through the years c.1845-c.1860. He also attended to a Baptist congregation in Preston. The County of Waterloo Gazetteer 1864 recorded Blair as having "one church, Bible Believers", and that the church "was erected in 1854, of brick, size 30 x 40, at a cost of $1,200; it [could] accommodate 300 persons; Rev. James Sim, pastor."

      James Sim eventually left the Baptist Church for the Christadelphian c.1865, taking many of his followers from Blair, Preston and area with him. It is possible that the Christadelphians worshipped in this Baptist Church for awhile until they built their own church in Blair. They later, in 1880, built a new church on Richmond Street (now Old Mill Road ) in Doon. Rev. Sim died in Waterloo in that year. The Blair Christadelphian Church is listed as being closed in Evans Gazetteer 1884-1885.

      An article in the Hamilton Spectator on Nov. 14, 1953 described the former Baptist church in Blair as being non-denominational. The present Blair Baptist Church was organized in August 1959 and rededicated in April 1960 as the Blair Evangelical Baptist Chapel. It now is a member of the Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Churches, and is called Grace Baptist Church.1a

      1aWaterloo County Churches A Research Guide To Churches Established Before 1900 By Rosemary Ambrose

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      Doon Christadelphian Church

      The Christadelphians in the Blair area may have worshipped at first in the Baptist Church in Blair, which was built c.1851, until they built a meeting house of their own. Christadelphian history in the area is partially connected with Rev. James Sim. He had been ordained a Baptist minister in 1841 and is reported to have preached in the Blair area from c.1845-c.1860. Sometime during this period he left the Baptist Church for the Christadelphian as did many of his followers in the Blair-Preston area. Pastor Sim, or Elder Sim as he was said to be called, died in Waterloo in 1880.

      In the same year, 1880, a new church was built by the Christadelphians on Richmond Street (now Old Mill Road) in Doon. The frame building was covered with red brick in 1889 - the datestone on the church read "Christadelphian Meeting House 1889". This church was in use until 1916 when it was closed. It was later sold in 1936 to Margaret Ross who used it as a residence until her death in 1971. The building deteriorated so badly during the next decade that it was considered unsafe and therefore was demolished in 1981.2a

      2aWaterloo County Churches A Research Guide To Churches Established Before 1900 By Rosemary Ambrose

      ___________________________

      Baptist Church

      The Canadian Baptist Register for 1857, which contains the Annual Report for 1856, lists a Preston congregation of 47 members with the Revs. George Patten and James Sim as pastors. The next three Annual Reports, for 1857, 1858, 1859 - with 57, 45, and 50 members respectively - list Rev. James Sim as pastor. The 1861 Canadian Baptist Register, which contains the 1860 Annual Report, does not have a listing for Preston, nor do subsequent reports.
      Rev. James Sim was ordained a Baptist minister at Waterloo [Township] on October 5, 1841, and is reported to have been pastor to the Blair and Preston congregations from 1845-1860, travelling from his home in Hawkesville every other weekend to conduct services in Blair and area. He eventually left the Baptist Church for the Christadelphian, as did many of his followers in Blair and Preston. Rev. Sim was known as Elder Sim, and the Blair Baptist Church referred to in the County of Waterloo Gazetteer for 1864 as the "Bible Believers", was also known as "Mr. Sim's Church."
      Pollock's 1859 Map of the Village of Preston shows a church building located on the northwest corner of Dover and King Streets, facing onto King St..3a

      3aWaterloo County Churches A Research Guide To Churches Established Before 1900 By Rosemary Ambrose

      ______________________

      THE subject of this sketch, the late James Sims, took a leading part in the education and religious life in the early years of the settlement of the County of Waterloo. He was born in 1812, in the Parish of Insch, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. His education was received at the Parish Schools and, though not extensive, the foundation was laid upon which by self study, extensive reading and an excellent memory, he became a man of general information and being a good conversationalist he readily cornmunicated such information to others. His early years of manhood were spent in farming which did not afford much time for literary work, but every spare moment was spent with books and in reading. In 1837 he married Janet Robertson, widow, and in the summer of that year sailed from Aberdeen in the ship "Hercules" with his wife, step children Alexander, John, and Jane Robertson ; accompanied by his father James Sims, his mother, his brothers Peter and Andrew, and his sister Margaret (Mrs. Wm. Fowler) and his nephews James and Peter Sims. After a voyage of eight weeks they landed at Quebec and immediately proceeded by boat up the St. Lawrence River, through canals and lake to Toronto, Ont., where they spent their first winter in Canada. In the spring of 1838 they went by boat to Hamilton and thence by wagons and on foot to the Queen's Bush and located on Lot 2, Con. 13, in the Township of Wellesley about one mile from Hawksville. At that time the country surrounding was practically an unbroken forest, there being only a few settlers in the neighborhood, with small clearings and no roads except trails through the bush.

      The nearest grist mill was at Waterloo village and many of the early settlers carried their flour and other provisions on their backs to their homes.

      Mr. Sims went to work with the energy of the early settlers of those days and in a short time had a small clearing and a home. His early years were devoted to clearing the land; in summer going to the older settlements to work at the harvest which provided a little ready money for the necessaries of life. Settlement was rapid and in a few years the township of Wellesley and surrounding townships, took on the activities of municipal, educational and social life.

      Roads were made, bridges built, schools and churches were erected and villages sprang up with the attendant industries of grist and saw mills, blacksmith and carriage shops, stores, etc., so that in the short space of ten or twenty years, the country, from an unbroken forest took on the appearance of well settled farms, comfortable homes and prosperous communities.

      A few years after Mr. Sims located in Wellesley, Mr. Jno. Hawke began putting in a dam on the Conestogo River and made preparations for building a grist mill at Hawksville. The mill was built and put into operation in the year 1846, which was a great benefit to the settlers in providing a market for grain near by and obviating a long drive through bad roads to Waterloo to get gristing done.

      Though James Sims took part in the material operations rendered neces-sary to clearing up a farm, his work was chiefly in the educational and religious life of the community. Spending a summer or two at Doon assisting at the work of building Ferries' flour mills, he associated himself with the Baptist church at Blair. He was ordained a Baptist minister in 1842 and was appointed pastor of the church at Blair, which position he filled for twenty years. He was popularly known as "Elder Sims" and there are many still living who will remember him in his capacity as pastor of the church at Blair. During the years 1845 to 1860 he was a well known personage, for every two weeks on Saturday, he was seen proceeding on horse-back from his home near Hawksville to the village of Blair, where he preached twice on Sunday and returned home on Monday.

      There were other Baptist communities in which he conducted religious services, more particularly at a small meeting house near Elmira. He was called upon frequently to perform the marriage ceremony and there are many still living who were married by "Elder Sims". He was a good public speaker and had an easy and ready flow of language, logical in argument and forceful in delivery. His desire for knowledge led him to study the Hebrew and Greek, so that he might read and study the Scriptures in their original tongues. Many hours did he spend with the dim light of the candle, pouring overHebrew and Greek lexicons, studying the meaning of obscure verbs and writing exegesis on scriptural teaching and doctrine.

      His principal study was the prophecies, and like many other students of prophecy, his mind ran to the fixing of years and dates for the Second Coming of Christ. Reading the works of Dr. Thomas, a writer on prophecy, he gradually drew away from the Baptist church and joined the Christadelphians, as did many of the members of the Baptist church at Blair, forming an Ecclesia, Mr. Sims being the principal teacher.

      When Waterloo County was formed from the District of Wellington in 1853, Mr. James Sims was appointed superintendent of schools for the townships of Woolwich and Wellesley, which position he filled for some years. At that time there were five superintendents for the county and they constituted the Board of Public Instruction. The board met a number of times each year to grant teaching certificates and transact other business relating to education. Mr. Sims was the first chairman of the board which position he occupied until the year 1861.

      Taking a lively interest in education he encouraged settlers to establish and support schools. He was a friend to the teacher and many a young man was encouraged to engage in the profession from his advice. He was brought into contact with those having the management and control of educational work in the early history of the Public School System in Ontario. Trustees and teachers frequently went to his house to consult him on school matters. Both he and his wife were very hospitable, visitors and strangers being always welcome and entertained in true Scottish simplicity.

      He took an active interest in the temperance cause, and when the Sons of Temperance movement started he took it up warmly, speaking and lecturing in its favor and became a chartered member of the lodge of the Sons of Temperance that was organized in the village of Hawkesville in 1854, and he assisted in organizing lodges at other places. The lodge at Hawkesville for some years had a large membership, many of the young men in the village and neighborhood joinin g,and it had a marked effect upon the habits of the community, many of the people taking the pledge of abstinence and young men formed habits of strict sobriety which became leading traits in their characters for life.

      Under the leadership of the Hawkesville Lodge of Temperance annual soirees were held in a grove on the farm of John Hawke adjacent to the village, being attended by other lodges in regalia. These soirees were very popular, the young men and women entering into the spirit of the cause with great enthusiasm. Music, speaking and refreshments were the leading features of these annual gatherings and Mr. Sims always gave an encouraging word and helping hand and was one of the principal speakers.

      In 1867 Mr. Sims sold his farm on which he had lived for 29 years and retired from active life. He died at Waterloo, Ont., in 1880. His widow survived him to the year 1881. The family of James Sims and his wife, Janet Harvey, are : James C. Sims (retired from the Post Office department after 42 years' service), Montreal, Que.; Peter H. Sims, Secretary of the British America Assurance Company, Toronto, Ont.; William A. Sims, farmer, Swan River, Man.; Janet, widow of the late John McQueen, Hillman, Mich.

      His only descendant living in the county of Waterloo, is his grandson, Harvey J. Sims, barrister, Berlin, Ont., son of P. H. Sims, Toronto, Ont.4a

      4aChronicle-Telegraph Newspaper, 100 Years of Progress in Waterloo County Canada Semi-Centennial Souvenir 1856-1906 (Waterloo, Ontario, Canada: Chronicle-Telegraph Newspaper, 1906)pg 93

      _______________________________________

      James Sims was another early minister who settled in the Queen's Bush. After leaving their home in Scotland, Sims and his family settled in the Queen's Bush Clergy Reserve as squatters in the spring of 1838. He spent his initial years clearing a homestead and supported his family by occasionally working as a labourer in the surrounding villages and hamlets. While employed as a construction worker at Ferrie's Flour Mill in Doon, Sims became a member of the Baptist church in the community of Blair. On October 5,1841, Sims became an ordained minister and began travelling throughout Waterloo and Wellington counties as an itinerant preacher. He was also associated with the American Baptist Free Missionary Society between 1846 and 1849. An esteemed minister, Sims performed marriages, conducted funerals, baptized new members and offered support to Black and white residents in the Queen's Bush region.1a

      1aThe Queen's Bush Settlement Black Pioneers 1839-1865 by Linda Brown-Kubisch, pg 62-63

  • Sources 
    1. [S131] Census - ON, Waterloo, Waterloo Twp. - 1851, Div 5 Pg 8.
      James SIM Baptist minister Birthplace: Scotland Age 35 Baptist Res. Wellesley

    2. [S131] Census - ON, Waterloo, Waterloo Twp. - 1851, Div 5, pg 256.

    3. [S242] Census - ON, Waterloo, Wellesley Twp. - 1851, Div. 2 Page 6.

  • Event Map
    Event
    Link to Google MapsBirth - 1816 - Insch, , Aberdeen, Scotland Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsOccupation - Minister - 1851 - Wellesley Twp., Waterloo Region, Ontario Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsReligion - Baptist - 1851 - Wellesley Twp., Waterloo Region, Ontario Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsOccupation - baptist minister - 1852 - Wellesley Twp., Waterloo Region, Ontario Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsResidence - 1852 - Wellesley Twp., Waterloo Region, Ontario Link to Google Earth
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