Peaceful. If I had one word to describe the setting of the Coldstream Meeting House, it would be peaceful. Coldstream is a small village about twenty-five minutes west of London. The Meeting House, on Quaker Lane, is beside a conservation area and the Quaker burying ground. The setting is very picturesque.
On a table inside the meetinghouse, you’ll find a flyer about Quakers and the Coldstream Meeting specifically. It tells the reader that the first settlers, John Harris, Benjamin Cutler, John Marsh, and Daniel Zavitz, hosted Meetings at their homes until 1850. At this time, land was donated on which a burying ground was established and a frame building erected to serve as a Meeting House. By 1859, this frame building was inadequate to accommodate the growing families and it was replaced by the present brick building. The building was well constructed and has been lovingly maintained.
More history about the Coldstream Meeting can be found in several places. If you look up the minute book transcriptions on our own CFHA website (https://cfha.info/LoboH-3-1.pdf), you will find this historical overview:
“The township was settled around 1834 in part by Quakers from the Pelham area and directly from Pennsylvania. In 1849 the growing Quaker community was granted indulged status by Norwich Monthly Meeting. In 1857 the meeting became a Preparative Meeting under Norwich Monthly Meeting and this minute book starts at that time. Arthur Dorland in his A History of the Society of Friends (Quakers) in Canada, 1927 & 1968, states that Lobo Meeting became one of the most progressive centres of the Hicksite Branch of Friends in Canada . In 1893, since Lobo was the most active meeting within the Monthly Meeting it was decided that the name of Norwich Monthly Meeting should be changed to Lobo Monthly Meeting [Dorland, 172]. According to Jane Zavitz Bond, in the 1980’s Lobo Monthly Meeting became Coldstream Monthly Meeting and Yarmouth was set off as Yarmouth Monthly Meeting at Sparta.”
Dorland describes the early beginnings: “The first settlers in Lobo Township literally had to hew their homes out of the forest, as this district was extremely heavily wooded. Daniel Zavitz, for example, who came to Lobo in 1843, purchased one hundred acres of land at four dollars an acre on which not a tree had been cut. During the first year he managed to clear seven acres, which he sowed with wheat, only to have his promised crop caught by the late frost and ruined.”
Dorland references an essay written by Edgar M. Zavitz, the son of Daniel Zavitz mentioned above: “The Society of Friends in Lobo Township” which can be found online at: https://www.canadiana.ca/view/oocihm.84652/1?r=0&s=1
It includes more about his father’s experience settling the land, and also a recounting of how Daniel “went back (to New York) to get a companion.” Edgar also discusses such topics as temperance and the relationship with the local First Nations. It is so clear that Edgar had a deep appreciation for the Quaker legacy in the Lobo/Coldstream area.
I hope I’ve given you an introduction to the Coldstream Meeting. In a future blog, I’ll share some highlights from the delightful interview I had with Marilyn Thomas, a birthright Quaker. Marilyn highlighted some of the distinctive contributions of the Coldstream Quakers. I’ll also include details about the architecture of the meeting house and the cemetery.