OPINION: Camp Lamrecton: the real truth, and nothing but the truth

Phil Egan

This is the 100th column that I have written for The Sarnia Journal, which are backward glances into Sarnia’s rich history.

But I do make mistakes. My first was a spelling error of a family name, and it bothered me. But not as much as my next error, which was a historical inaccuracy.

My friend Ian Mason is a talented writer and curator of the Presbyterian Church Museum in Toronto. When I wrote recently about visiting Camp Kenny, which I said later became Lamrecton Camp, Ian was quick to set me straight.

Ian knows what he’s talking about. It was his remarkable great-grandfather, the Rev. A. Earle Waghorne, who founded Lamrecton in 1926 with his wife, Mirah. Rev. Waghorne was minister of Mandaumin Presbyterian Church from 1921-1925. Following church union, it became Mandaumin United Church.

Lamrecton is a combination of Lambton (“Lam” and “ton”) and Religious Educational Council (rec). The council offered missionary education and recruitment, predominantly to the 80% of Lambton residents who, prior to 1960, subscribed to the United brand of Protestantism.

The property did not originally come from W.H. Kenny, the Sarnia grocer, who I correctly identified as having donated Camp Kenny, which was another camp located in the Camlachie area. The Lamrecton property was purchased from the Wellington family after a fundraising effort by Ian’s great-grandfather and his church.

Camp Kenny, it appears, may have been a victim of beach erosion in the 1970s. Ian believes the site of Camp Kenny may have been in the vicinity of today’s residential sub-division near California Avenue and Beverly Glen. This would have been on the north side of Queen Street, at Lakeshore Road.

Lamrecton Camp is now Lamrecton Park in the Town of Plympton-Wyoming and is located 700 metres north of Mandaumin Road.

Dr. P. McGregor Brown, a Camlachie physician and early supporter of the Lamrecton project, published a rare 1945 history of Lamrecton Camp and it tells the correct story.

Ian is justifiably proud of his renowned great-grandfather. A true renaissance man, Rev. Waghorne published his own newspaper in addition to his duties as a minister. He wrote several hymns and church anthems that are still in use today. He also earned a Master’s degree in music at age 65, and founded a pipe organ company. Three of his pipe organs went to southwestern Ontario churches; one was purchased by a Chatham radio station.

Ian was not alone in spotting my error, but he alone was able to provide the information needed to fill in the missing gaps to the story.

In the process, I learned some interesting facts and was able to set the record straight.