The Fighting Parson! Charles McKillop was the perfect minister for the rough, tough coalmining and frontier town that Lethbridge was in the early days. It is said that if he couldn’t convince someone with the power of his words, he convinced them with his fists!
Charles McKillop was a tall, burly Scot raised in the various Ottawa lumber camps where he worked as a lumberjack and cook and learned to box and wrestle. He decided to become a minister and school teacher and is Lethbridge’s first permanent Presbyterian minister.
McKillop was an interesting dichotomy. He was always seen in proper eastern clothes replete with black top hat but was not above thrashing those who mocked him. His sermons, though not learned, were squarely against the evils of alcoholism, gambling, and prostitution – all of which early Lethbridge had in spades. City records are full of reports and letters written by McKillop in his fight against the corruption of the community.
McKillop suffered a stroke in 1903 and this slowed him down and caused him to move to Raymond to a smaller church. He later retired to Lethbridge and passed away in 1907.
McKillop United Church was named in honour of both Reverend McKillop and his wife, Elizabeth.