Everyone loves a good story and this one was a page-turner for volunteer Steve Lennon who runs used book sales most Sundays at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Winnipeg located at 603 Wellington Crescent.
Part mystery, part history, Steve’s adventure in discovering a national treasure is akin to the Antiques Roadshow meets Canadian Pickers.
Lennon, poet and book aficionado, was sorting through a box of donated books when he came across a large-print 13-pound pulpit Bible. He noted the hand written inscription on the front page and surmised that Gilbert Gordon had given the Bible to his preacher brother, Rev. Charles Gordon for Christmas in 1896.
Not being from the Prairies, Lennon did not know that Charles Gordon’s pen name was Ralph Connor. Yes, that Ralph Connor, Canada’s most prolific bestseller at the turn of the 19th century.
What Steve Lennon describes as “a series of amazing coincidences,” began with research for a lecture he gave last summer on the 50th anniversary of the TransCanada Highway. He just happened to be reading The Canadian Trip by Reverend Charles Gordon’s grandson, also named Charles Gordon.
As he read about the work of Gordon, the Minister who preached in Canmore, Banff and Winnipeg, Steve realized he was also reading about Ralph Connor who had resided at 54 West Gate, the historic building that is now home to the University Women’s Club of Winnipeg.
On behalf of the Unitarian Church, Steve presented the Bible to the University Women’s Club in Armstrong Point, home to the Ralph Connor Historical Society, a mere stone’s throw from the church. The Bible has travelled many a mile since 1896, down the Trans Canada Highway, to the cities and towns where Rev. Gordon preached, and to many locales within Winnipeg.
Saturday, May 25, 2013 marks the tenth anniversary of Doors Open Winnipeg that celebrates Winnipeg’s unique spaces, architecture and history. It is the seventh year the University Women’s Club of Winnipeg, 54 West Gate, has invited the public to tour the historic home of Rev. Charles Gordon.
This is also the first year the Unitarian Church of Winnipeg, 603 Wellington Crescent, will open its doors. From 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. visitors can experience history come alive in these two houses that are joined forever in the spirit of friendship.
Thanks to Steve and his observant eye, intuition, perseverance and research skills, Rev. Gordon’s Bible has come full circle and is back home safe and sound.
Until volunteers are able to find a suitable stand and display case for this recent acquisition, the Bible is being held in storage.