The Reverend John McTavish

Kyung-A Lee

Our Minister Emeritus

Do you remember what you were doing on July 1, 1967? John McTavish certainly does. It was the first day of his life as a United Church minister in the community of Port Loring, a small village west of Trout Creek. John ‘hit the heights’ that day, sharing the back seat of a convertible with the late Stan Darling, long time member of parliament for Parry Sound – Muskoka in that town’s Centennial celebration parade. As John so irreverently says, his career was all down hill from there! And what a career it was.

Following the path of most young ministers, John and Marion and their family moved to Richmond Hill for five years before arriving in Bracebridge in 1975. John and Marion have always had a love of theatre and together they have produced and directed dozens of plays and musicals over the years. It was in Bracebridge that John made mark as a person who wouldn’t bow to pressure when their production of Godspell was picketed by a group of Christian fundamentalists. He says he has taken a few hits to the jaw but has never been knocked out. In fact, John went on to publish his own director’s manual for Godspell which has been used by a number of other productions.

After several years in Bracebridge the McTavish family was off to Kitchener before arriving in Huntsville in 1988 and here John really blossomed as a minister and in his outreach to the community. For that is what John’s efforts as director amounted to. He pulled people in from the entire community for an experience many would never forget. One of John’s favourite playwrights is Alan Ayckburn and he and Marion have produced the Norman Conquests twice in their favourite format, Theatre in the Round. John even had the chance to play Norman himself in one of these productions. Musicals have also played a large role in John’s directing career. Anne of Green Gables, Annie, Lil’ Abner and Godspell have all graced the small stage in Trinity Hall.

​John is also an accomplished playwright and the congregation at Trinity has been enriched by his stirring chancel plays, especially the one honouring Martin Luther King. For a number of years John had a regular column in the Weekender and has been a book reviewer for the Observer and the Presbyterian Record. Thankfully, although John has been retired for a few years, he is still contributing to the richness of life in Huntsville and especially to the enrichment of the congregation of Trinity. Late in 2009 John was honoured to be designated Minister Emeritus of Trinity United Church, an honour well deserved. Well done, John! Not such a downhill slide after all.​