Trinity Methodist Bell

Then and Now



Our church bell has come out of decades of storage to be mounted outside our main entrance — thanks to the efforts of Bob Steed, Rich Donaldson and Bryan Reid.

The Church Bell foundered at the Buckeye Bell foundry in 1895 and was purchased by Trinity Methodist Church in 1908 from the E. W. Vanduzen Company of Cincinnati. It is made of bronze. All of the records of the Vanduzen foundry were destroyed in the great Ohio River flood of 1937, so it is impossible to find out anything about its origin from that source.

We know that the first Methodist Church in Nelson was built in 1908/09, destroyed in a fire in 1915 and rebuilt. In 1925 the merger of four Christian denominations formed the United Church of Canada. Our Church Records dating back to the 1925 merger show a transfer of a bell to the United Church in Nelson with a value of $100.

When the church rebuilt in 1917, the bell was stored in the rafters and forgotten about until the building again burned in 1967. The day after the fire, Fred Whitely, Chair of the Church Council, and a firefighter were inspecting the remains while another firefighter tried to cut away smouldering rafters above – not realizing there was a bell resting on them. Fred was about 10 feet away when the bell came crashing down, and fortunately no one was injured. From that point onwards, the bell was moved around from place to place.

The Bell has a very large crack. It is believed that the crack was as a result of the fire in 1915 that destroyed the Methodist Church and the headstock was later destroyed in the fire of the St. Paul's Trinity United Church in 1967. The crack has been repaired and done very well. Experts are surprised at the quality of the repair. Carl Zimmerman of "Bell Talk –The American Bell Association International, Inc." is an expert in Bell History states, "The repair is unusual, because very few welders have the sense to be able to handle cast bronze properly."

The Bell was never installed in the rebuilding of St. Paul's Trinity United Church and had remained in storage since the time of the fire.

Thanks to vision, determination, and the hard work of Bob Steed, Rick Donaldson, and others, the bell has an honoured place again in our church. It was placed beside the front entrance to Nelson United Church as part of the Centenial Celebrations and was rededicated on August 30, 2009.
"Cellphone video" provided by Dirk Jonker