St. Jude’s Anglican Church began its life as a mission in 1839 in a log cabin on the banks of the Sixteen Mile Creek. Oakville was then a small village of 500 people. Between 1842 and 1884, worship services were held in a frame building at the corner of Lakeshore Rd. and Thomas Street. The church moved into its present home on William Street in 1884.
For close to a century, the church grounds remained a bare stage – a field of dandielions where church picnics were held and rugby and football matches were played. In the early 1980’s, Canon Ian Dingwall, then Rector, developed an idea for the creation of a memorial garden for the interment of ashes. A parishioner, Jean Mulholland, helped establish the formal, enclosed garden in memory of her late husband. It is wrapped within a low brick wall and wrought iron gate and features a “tree of life” fountain and a sundial sitting on intricate brickwork bordered all around by flower beds. Jean and Grace Irvine, both ardent gardeners, decided to extend the development of the garden to the entire property and so another parishioner, John Simkins, started the process by planting a flower bed along the west side of the church.
Realizing that this project was too big for them to handle by themselves, they invited other avid gardeners in the congregation to help make it happen and the St. Jude’s Garden Guild was formed.
Today, magnificent perennial gardens stand in the place of the dandelion field. Tulips and hyacinths, rhododendrons and peonies, roses, irises, foxgloves and many more beautiful flowers bloom where weeds once flourished. In the year 2000, a lovely Garden Chapel was erected and consecrated by Bishop Ralph Spence. The Chapel commemorates the gardens of Biblical stories. Textual inscriptions and artwork reflect the Garden of Eden, the Garden of Gethsemane and the Garden of the Resurrection. This is a very serene place to sit and reflect or just enjoy the splendor of our gardens.
The garden is a place for people, a place for joy and beauty, tears and sorrow, nourishment and peace, rejuvenation and empowerment, miracles and resurrection.
May the garden of St. Jude’s always be a blesing for you.