Eagle Lake Community Church celebrates 80 years
By Sue Tiffin
Published July 31, 2018
“Let there be light,” laughed Reverend Garry Swagerman, as lights flooded the Eagle Lake Community Church after a power outage on July 22.
It was a relief that the building was once again filled with light, although the crowd gathering inside, even in the dark, didn’t stop celebrating the 80th anniversary of the beloved church when the outage occurred mid-cake cutting. Instead, they gathered and chatted and looked through photo albums showing decades of events, get-togethers and plays. Many familiar faces in the photos have grown into adults, or died long ago, a testament to the legacy of the church.
Before the church was built, people in the Eagle Lake community gathered in the school, in their own homes and then in the dining room of the road camp. Ed Packard conducted twice-monthly services around 1934. Reverend John W. Bee of the Baptist church in Haliburton began visiting Eagle Lake as another charge in 1936.
“The churchgoers at that time decided that the church would be a church for all denominations – which it remains to this day,” reads the history of the church from a service pamphlet.
The property where the church is today, at 2605 Eagle Lake Rd., was purchased for $50 in March 1938 and the church was built by volunteer work crews from the cooperage. It has since undergone renovations for accessibility.
“The church has been central to the community and remains so, even as the demographics and the culture has shifted,” reads the pamphlet. “The bell rings every Sunday in the community to beckon people to come and to follow Christ.”
Nine pastors have led the congregation since 1938: Rev. John W. Bee (1936), Rev. E.A. Lorimer (1950), Rev. W.J. Robertson (1954), Rev. John E. Smith (1957), Rev. Brian Plouffe (1989), Rev. Paul Benson (1992), Rev. John Byelis (1999), Rev. Roy Carter (2001) and Rev. Garry Swagerman (2009).