Our church was founded on August 3, 1884.  A church building was erected by the congregation in 1955.  Come join us for our 125th anniversary on Sunday, August 2, 2009 at the church.

There will be a celebratory worship service at 9:30.  A special coffee hour to visit with friends and family will be held  before the worship service.  There will be a potluck dinner (meat and rolls will be furnished) and fellowship time following the service.

All family and former members are encouraged to come back to Canby for this celebration and to join in this special day.  Everyone is welcome.


           In the early history of western Minnesota when the country was sparsely populated, the missionary forces covered a large territory. The earliest reference we can find to a minister preaching in the territory where Canby now stands is in 1871.  Rev Ransom White came into this Presbytery, locating on the western border in Lyon County. He soon organized churches at Lyons, Currie and Tracy, holding also an occasional service at Walnut Grove, Bear Lake, Canby and Gary, SD. He remained in the work until 1883.


  A union Sunday School was organized in Canby on June 30, 1878. The meeting for organization was held in the public school building. The following officers were elected: W.A. Carroll, H. Johnson, assistant superintendents; E.R. Ruggles, secretary; Miss Welsh. Treasurer; and W.H. Tinker, choirmaster. The following were charter members of the school. W.A. Carroll, H. Johnson, William Lund, Henry Lund, Joseph Landru, Elmer Landru, N.M. Snart, E.R. Ruggles, O.F. Davis, William Paddock, Mrs. William Paddock, and H. Burgensen. Mr. Carroll remained superintendent of the Sunday School until July 14 when Mr. M.N. Snart was elected to succeed him. A new election of officers occurred December 22 of the same year and resulted as follows: T.C. Little, superintendent; Amelia Lund, secretary; and Mrs. McLain, treasurer. Miss Eva Wadleigh was the organist of the Sunday School.

  The only record of a minister that can be obtained having preached at Canby during the period is that of John McKee who was here part of the years 1879-1880.

  The Sunday School continued until October 10, 1880 when it was closed because of the big snowstorm, which came October 15 of that year. The school was closed until October 24, 1881, when it was again organized with the following officers: Mr. Marshall Gates, superintendent; Mrs. Van Valkenburg, assistant; P. C. Scott, secretary and treasurer; and Miss Eva Wadleigh, librarian. The union school seems to have died out in 1883.

  In the summer of 1884, Rev. Boughton, a student, spent his vacation in Gary, SD and gave Canby an occasional service. After his return to the seminary, Rev. John Irwin, then Synodical Missionary for Minnesota, visited and stirred up the people. It was August 3, 1884, in the schoolhouse, that the Canby Presbyterian Church was organized by the Rev. John Irwin, Synodical Missionary. This was the result of the services held by Rev. Boughton, who was present and assisted in the service of the organization. E.R. Peabody and James Gilruth were elected Elders. Mr. Gilruth was ordained and installed at this service. Mr. Peabody, being detained because of sickness, was ordained and installed at a later date. A building committee was at once appointed.

  The Ladies Aid Society was organized August 2, 1884, and gave their first entertainment on August 8, 1884, to raise funds for the new church building they proposed to erect. The church had a charter membership of 15 at that time. It was not however, until the following year that the new church building was to be erected. Just as the congregation was ready to proceed with building, a terrific hailstorm struck the community. Early records say the crops were badly damaged and also buildings and their contents, leaving scarcely a pane of glass in the windows on the storm side of the houses. The membership of the church was small and the outlook for a time was discouraging. But it was the dark hour before the dawn. Crops were not a total loss, business picked up, hope revived, and the work of the church continued. In September 1885, the Rev. James Clark of the Presbytery of Aberdeen, who had charge of the church in Gary, SD, took up the work at Canby and gave Canby half of his time. It was under his leadership that the first church building was erected. It was a neat frame structure, 26x38, pulpit recess, corner tower and vestibule, and a seating capacity of about 200. It had two burley reflector cathedral windows and was seated with chairs. Total cost including equipment was $1500.00. The church was dedicated January 3, 1886, with only nine members left on the roll, some having moved away to other parts of the country where they felt they could earn a better living. The Rev. George McAfee preached the dedicatory sermon. The members were James Gilruth, Helen Gilruth, (wife of James), Ellen Gilruth, E.R. Peabody, Clarrisa Peabody, (wife of E.R), Mrs. Hattie Van Valkenberg, Mrs. Mary Potter, Mrs. Maggie Arnott, Mrs. Polly McMannus, Miss Etta McMannus, and Mrs. Sadie Webster. This church was the first English speaking church in Canby.

  For two summers, students from theological seminaries occupied the pulpit. During the summer of 1889, J.A. Marquis occupied the pulpit. Other families moved away and the struggling church became discouraged, the windows were boarded up for two or three years. The church came to realize that during these days, it must be built up with prayer. The service of Miss Hood, an evangelist was secured, and under her leadership, the church was revived. That summer, another student, Rev. H.G Foken occupied the pulpit. Other names were added to the rolls and the church began to take heart. From then until 1896, the church existed under several short pastorates. That year, Rev. Charles McKinney began his labors here. He came into his work unordained, found a church badly in need of repair and a weak church. Under his efficient leadership, the church grew. The Thimble Society was organized and gave liberally to the work and repair of the church property. At this time there were only five Presbyterians in town. They were Mr. & Mrs. Van Valkenberg, Mrs. Crandall, Mrs. North and Miss Florence North. Out in Oshkosh was a little colony of Presbyterians consisting of the Juan Peterson family, Mr. & Mrs. C.W. Armitage, Mr. & Mrs. George Cole, Mr. & Mrs. William Bliss and Mr. & Mrs. Thomas Dunn. That same year, Rev. McKinney was ordained and installed as pastor of the church.

  During this time he organized the Oshkosh Church and also the Westside Presbyterian Church out in Freeland Township. After an 8-year pastorate, he received a call to the church at Rockwell City, IA. Rev. Milan Smith succeeded Rev. McKinney. This was a brief pastorate and once again the flock was without a shepherd. Mr. McKinney heard the cries of the church and returned to Canby for a second pastorate, preaching his first sermon on July 3, 1904. It was during this second pastorate that the church building was erected. The remodeling and rearranging was so  complete that it was an almost new building. The work was done at an approximate cost of $4000. The Board of Church Erection made a grant of $500 and a loan of $500. The Church was dedicated on June 21, 1908. In the morning, Rev. Badger preached the sermon and in the evening, Rev. McKibben of Marshall preached. At the close of the evening the dedicatory service was conducted by Rev. Badger.

  On July 1, 1909, Rev. McKinney again resigned and went east to care for his aged father. Again the church became the victim of short pastorates. The Rev. Wickwire and Rev. Taylor occupied the pulpit for about a year each. Rev. Fisher became pastor in 1912 and remained until the summer of 1915. It was during his pastorate that the Methodist Church united with the Presbyterian Church. Rev. John Parkes came soon after Rev. Fisher left and was installed as pastor in April 1916. He resigned to enter the service in 1918. Under his leadership the church took on a new building enthusiasm. One of the best manses in this section of the state was built. The church had long been in need of such a home and the time was right to build. An eight-room house, modern in every department, was erected on the same lot as the church. Again the church was vacant for about 1-1/2 years. Then early in 1920 Rev. E.P. Linnell came to the field and remained until October 1924 when he resigned to accept a call to the Presbyterian Church in Michigan.

  During his pastorate, the Oshkosh Presbyterian Church united with the Presbyterian Church of Canby. The church, at this time, had a membership of 76 members. The pastorate of Rev. E.N. Prentice began November 8, 1924, with an installation service on May 13, 1925. Rev. Prentice remained until August 1937, when he retired because of ill health. During this long pastorate, good constructive work was done while laboring under the handicaps of the financial depression. The pastorate of Rev. John Rowlan began January 1, 1938. He served until September 1941. During this pastorate approximately $2500 was spent for improvements on the buildings and grounds. The pastorate of Rev. Elra Key began November 4, 1942. He served the church until October 1950. Rev. Donald Mitchell came in September 1951 and served the church until August of  1959. The present church building was built during his pastorate.

  The church purchased a 30-foot frontage from Henry Leverenz for $3000 and on January 10 a building committee was appointed. The Farmers Co-op extended an invitation for the use of their second floor for church services and other church related activities. The invitation was gratefully accepted in February of 1955. The church building was sold for $155 to Marvin Lundquist and Melvin and Gilbert Bliss. The cornerstone laying ceremony was held after worship service Sunday, June 26, 1955. Members of the   congregation contributed thousands of dollars worth of labor, helping with the pouring of the footings and basement walls. They worked in shifts and through the night until it was completed. The UPW women served lunch and meals throughout the day and night. The congregation had a choice between brick or stone. The stone would cost $5,000 more than the brick. By donating their labor for sawing and chipping the stone they could save $2,000, which they chose to do, as everyone wanted stone.

  The church was dedicated at services Sunday afternoon, June 10, 1956. Rev. Mitchell served the church until August of 1959. The Rev. Warren Hoffman began his pastorate November 1959, and served until September 1963, when he and his family went to Scotland for a year of study. The Rev. D. J. Sessler served as interim pastor until Rev. Hoffman returned in 1964. He then served the church until May 1965. The burning of the mortgage was on Sunday, January 13, 1963. The Rev. Donald Mitchell returned for this service. He officiated at the ceremony and preached the sermon. The Rev. Robert Oram came in September 1965 and served until August 1974. During this pastorate the present manse was purchased on June 29, 1969. The old manse was sold to Mr. & Mrs. Al Blumeyer on November 16, 1975.  The pastorate of Rev. Myron Brower began on June 1, 1975. He served the church until his death on November 27, 1983.  During his pastorate, the Prayer Tree was formed, the youth club was organized, and on May 15, 1983, the mortgage on the manse was burned. The Rev. Harold Utzinger became the interim pastor and began this pastorate in January 1984.