Gathering together for many generations.
During the early 1800’s, settlers from the United States, the British Isles, and Europe were coming into the townships of Pickering, Scarborough, and Markham and establishing new settlements. Among these folk were adherents of the Wesleyan Methodist Church. In the beginning they met in homes, sometimes in a schoolhouse. Soon there were Methodist circuit riders traveling by horseback or on foot, conducting the services. In 1874, a brick building was erected. The bricks used were from a local brickyard.
Another group known as Bible Christians beginning in Cobourg and traveling westward were also present in Pickering and Scarborough townships, meeting in homes. A Bible Christians church was established in Cherrywood making use of an old log school building no longer a school. This became their Church building.
By 1884, the congregations of the two denominations came together as one congregation and the log school building, once a church, now became the church hall.
In Box Grove, the history of the church building site goes back to the 1850’s. Used as a churchyard and cemetery, the land was donated to the Methodist Church for that purpose. In 1869, a ½ acre of land was deeded to the Methodist Episcopal Church. A new structure of board and batten was constructed and this church building was dedicated in 1877.
By 1884, there was a Markham circuit of Methodist Churches with Markham, Box Grove, Tenth Line (later Locust Hill) and Whitevale. The village of Whitevale was incorporated in 1820 and Whitevale Methodist Church was erected in 1854. In the early 1900’s, three Wesleyan Methodist Churches became a three-point charge, Whitevale, Locust Hill and Cherrywood. In 1925, with the union of Methodist, Presbyterian, and Congregational denominations, these Wesleyan Methodist churches became part of the United Church of Canada.
They remained a three-point charge until the early 1970’s. At that time Presbytery re-arranged the charge. Locust Hill and Melville became a two-point charge, as did Cherrywood and Whitevale. In 1994, Cherrywood and Whitevale formally amalgamated and became one congregation. Cherrywood closed their building in 1997.
By 1857, land was donated on this location and a frame building was erected and named Zion at that time. Zion became part of a two-point charge with St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Markham. The frame building was replaced in 1890 with a new church building of red brick and formally dedicated in October of that year. Years later an original timber from the frame building was fashioned as a cross, presented by the CGIT, as a Centennial project, dedicated in 1967 and hangs in the sanctuary today.
In September 2003 we recognized the advantages of coming together and made a positive statement at that time. An amalgamation vote was taken on January 11, 2004 by secret ballot and it was an affirmative vote. The choice of location was decided by secret ballot on May 2, 2004 at which time Zion-Cedar Grove building was chosen and Heritage United Church came into being.