The new Kingdom Hall is almost completed for local worshipers to start up their worship services. The construction of the new hall has been a massive undertaking, with 112 volunteers, including 18 from our district.
Construction began in June, with the tear down and removal of the previous Kingdom Hall. Although it was only 40 years old, an inspection revealed dry rot – a fungal timber decay which results in cracking and powdering of the wood.
It was decided to not only rebuild the Hall, but to give the site a significant upgrade. A high efficiency building was engineered to serve as a centre of Bible Instruction.
The Hall, which is being built at the intersection of Heward Rd. and the Trans Canada Hwy, is part of a much larger building program. The Jehovah’s Witnesses construct and maintain places of worship around the world, according to David Spalding, the spokesman for Jehovah’s Witnesses of Ontario. Spalding resides in Toronto. He shared with me that all if their places of worship are enrolled in a preventative maintenance program and receive regular inspections. This ensures that the buildings are kept in the best possible condition.
In the case of the local Kingdom Hall, the decision to remove the original building and replace it with a completely new structure enabled the crew to include new features, many of which are being incorporated into similar building projects in northern areas.
According to site manager Parker Jones, the building will include high efficiency LED lighting, and utilize in-slab hydronic heating, enhanced by by a forced air HVAC system.
“A unique feature of this building is that we are testing three different methods of insulating the slab,” said Jones. “In-slab temperature sensors have been installed so that we can remotely monitor the results, and see which of the three methods of insulation is most effective. We can take what we learn here and continue to improve our building process across the country.”
Jehovah’s Witnesses recently announced the construction of a new Kingdom Hall in Iqaluit; once completed, it will the northern-most Kingdom Hall in Canada.
“What makes this building work even more remarkable, is that all of the work is done by unpaid volunteers,” noted Jones. “People from as far away as Newfoundland and Alberta have joined forces to complete this project.”
The building is slated for completion in October. If it wasn’t for shortages in the global supply chain, the building would have been completed by now. The site is waiting on shipments of windows and doors.
“This is a very important building project for the people of Fort Frances,” said Spalding. “The last few years have been very difficult for everyone, and we all need comfort and hope. Each Kingdom Hall is a centre of Bible education in serving the spiritual needs of the local community.”
Spalding also shared with me that the Witnesses will be starting their door to door ministry September 1. Out of respect for health mandates, there hasn’t been any of this Witness ministry done since Covid began. Jehovah’s Witnesses took Covid very seriously and knew the importance of all people staying as healthy as possible, he said.
The new Kingdom Hall is 27 1/2 by 47 1/2 feet. This Hall is a bit smaller than the previous building The meeting room holds 65 comfortable chairs. The Hall and its bathrooms are wheelchair accessible for anyone requiring assistance. The Hall is beautifully decorated. At the present time there is a congregation of around 40 people.
Some people will remember the Kingdom Hall on Hwy. 613. That was the previous Kingdom Hall used for Jehovah’s Witnesses to worship before the new Hall was built 40 years ago at its present location.
That original Kingdom Hall was modelled into a home. Brian and Michelle Sabbe and their boys have made that their comfortable home for 18 years. Brian remembers Dale Haney living in the house before them.
The Witnesses who were volunteering from out of the district have been living here throughout the construction. Some brought their campers and lived on site, some stayed in motels, while others lived in the campers donated by Jehovah’s Witnesses. Much hospitality was shown throughout this time with not only living accommodation but food shared, worship meetings and every other need met, in order to make the volunteers as comfortable as possible.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses congregation is so pleased to have a new place of worship. They can’t say enough about the way everyone has worked to see this project through. The congregation has been meeting at the Super 8 Motel and will continue to do so until the arrival and placement of doors and windows.
Parker and his wife Kaili make their home on Ottawa – that is when they aren’t at a building site. Although they will be happy to return to Ottawa, they have grown to love the beauty of the district. Several volunteers have found Wasaw and Hope Lakes great places to swim after a hard days work and even a bit of fishing was enjoyed.
In closing I’d like to thank Dave Spalding, Parker Jones and the volunteers on site, both from our district and out of area, for all their knowledge, education, enthusiasm and passion of the new Kingdom Hall.
May your new place of worship, the friends and strong bonds you have all made during this undertaking and the joy of your faith, live in your hearts forever. May all the local Jehovah’s Witnesses thrive in their new Kingdom Hall and the Witnesses leaving to go home or onto other Kingdom Hall work sites, may you take away the feeling of making a difference to the congregation here. May those feelings of goodness remain with you all forever!