Historical Plaque Properties


Parkview United Church Manse
76 Parkview Drive
Stratford, ON

Following World War I, the east end of Stratford was developing with factories expanding and homes springing up. The Presbyterian and Methodist churches felt the need to develop an inter-denominational Sunday School serving the spiritual and social needs of blue collar families including both children and adults alike. Temporary facilities were established at the former Juliette School. However by 1924, there was much debate concerning the uniting of the Presbyterian, Methodist and Congregationalists into one church. Tempers flared, congregations split and ministers, in Stratford and elsewhere across the country, left their churches to join the Unionist movement, which became official on June 10, 1925 with the formation of the United Church of Canada. Parkview United Church was officially established on July 7 of the same year.

There was a strong belief on the part of the small congregation that they required their own building. On July 27, 1925 five lots were purchased on Parkview Drive (formerly King Street) between Ontario and Cobourg Streets, with the task of developing their own facility for use as a Sunday School and place of worship. The building located behind the present church was completed in 1927. In 1929, the congregation approved plans for the construction of a Manse on the corner of Parkview Drive and Cobourg St. The house was completed in 1930.

The first occupant of the Manse was the Rev. C. W. DeWitt Cosens who succeeded the respected first Minister of the church the Rev. Finlay Matheson.

Charles Wesley DeWitt Cosens was born on December 14, 1893 in the hamlet of Walton, which is about 45 kilometres east of Goderich in Huron County. He is the son of the Rev. Thomas Wesley Cosens who served as Methodist Minister for the area and Mary Elizabeth Govenlock. On August 17, 1918, the Rev. DeWitt Cosens married 29-year old Lillian Ray Brown the daughter of Ezra Brown and Catherine Gillis in Cornwall, Ontario. The service was officiated by DeWitt’s father. DeWitt and Lillian had four children. He served the congregation of Parkview United until 1933. Lillian Ray Cosens died in 1961 and DeWitt Cosens died in 1966.

By 1940 the church was forced to sell the Manse because they could not afford to carry the mortgages on both the church and the house. However, by 1945 with the final discharge and burning of the church’s mortgage, the congregation decided to repurchase the Manse. Once again Parkview’s Women’s Association took on the challenge of paying the interest on the Manse’s mortgage as they had done for the church. They raised money through the sale of homemade quilts, providing catering services, and sponsoring teas, bazaars, harvest home suppers as well as regular turkey dinners which proved to be a very successful way of raising funds. On one occasion a garden hose was hooked up to the hot water tap in the Manse kitchen and run through the window of the church’s basement to provide hot water for washing dishes when the church’s tank could not keep up with demand.   With mixed feelings the Manse was sold in 2002.