The name of this avenue recognizes the family of D.W. McLean.
The family farmhouse stood on the NW corner where Knox Church was built in 1904.
Sometimes naming a street in honour of a landowner helped persuade him to sell when the town fathers wanted the land.
One of the architectural treasures of Selkirk, Knox Presbyterian Church, is a fine neo-gothic church that replaced a smaller log building dating from 1877. Additions from the 1920’s and 60’s and two fine stained glass windows by famed artist, Leo Mol, complete the structure of today.
It speaks of the wealth and power of the congregation (with Scottish heritage) to have erected such an impressive brick and stone structure in 1904.
Two other Protestant Churches also located on McLean indicating the growing number of citizens of other denominations. Christ Church of England was established closer to Main in the late 1880’s and Wesleyan Methodist on the other side of the street in the 1890’s.
Churches were very important in the lives of Selkirk residents. Three Protestant churches on one street demonstrated how religious people were in that era. One might well ask how much sin did one have to atone for on McLean?
The Selkirk Ferry
The spire of Knox Church became a useful landmark in stormy weather for the ferrymen who delivered their passengers to the landing on the bank opposite the church.
The ferry served Selkirk from 1870’s to 1937. The cable ferry was a barge, sometimes pulled by an ox or horse, that crossed the river on request. Sometimes a lantern or a shout was the signal for the ferryman to pick up passengers, wagons and livestock. Several ferry operators were famous characters. “Commodore” Holgate was renowned for his salty vocabulary. Parents were advised to cover their children’s ears on Sunday morning trips to Church.
The Bell in the Christchurch steeple had such a deep tone that its range and loudness irritated many. If the bell rang during the night or on a day other than Sunday, people paid attention. The bell also served as the town’s fire alarm.
In his journal, James Colcleugh who attended Knox Church, noted not merely the daily weather and business at his store. On Mondays he recorded the amount received on the collection plate at the church services. As Selkirk went through the turmoil of railroad politics, rumours, booms and busts, the weekly amounts for 1877-79 varied greatly; from a total of $0.73 to over $2.00 and then down to under a dollar again when the “Boom went “Bust”.