THOMAS WARD BAILEY
To write a history of my FORTY YEARS AS A CANADIAN PREACHER without telling something of my father would be a grievous error. One of the best things I know about my father I never knew until he had left this habitation of clay. Mother told me how on the day I was born Dad went out in the orchard and sat in an old buggy and prayed that he might have the wisdom to raise his son in the way that was right. What a memory to carry!
Thomas Ward Bailey was the youngest son of Robert and Betty Bailey. His father was a Methodist and his mother was a Baptist but it seems that the father's religion had prevailed in the household for I understand that all the family were christened but my father. As a family they were not very religious, however, for of the seven boys and two girls that grew to manhood and womanhood, one followed the father and became a Methodist. Three became members of the Lord's body but the rest made no religious profession whatever. Of the three that became members of the church two of them had married into my mother's family.
Despite the fact that the family was to a great extent irreligious, my father was a religious man. For a time he was interested in the Quakers. Then he became much interested in one of the numerous Holiness groups. When he was twenty-five years of age he heard the old Jerusalem gospel preached and became obedient to the faith. Almost at once he made up his mind that he would preach the word.
On October 15, 1902, he married Edith Cann and together they travelled the pathway of life for nearly 57 years. As I write these lines Mother is visiting in our home. She is hale and hearty and takes a keen interest in the work of the church and in the activities of her family.
It was in June, 1901, that my father was born from above and it was in June, 1959, that the call came for service in the eternal kingdom. Often I thought of the words concerning Moses when I would see my father in the last few years of his life. His eye was not dim and his natural force was not abated. He attended the June Meeting in Ontario just two weeks before he died. He was laughing, visiting, and enjoying himself to the fullest. On the way home he caught a cold. He seemed tired. However he preached the next Sunday and then on Thursday he went to the radio station and put a sermon on tape to be delivered the following Sunday. Saturday he dressed, but feeling rather indisposed he was lying on the couch. Suddenly he was gone. No one was with him but the One who had stood by his side for so many years. My brother Nelson was summoned but the spirit had left the earthly house.
The family gathered home. We came from the East and the West. Some came from the South. All eight children were there and many grandchildren came. Six of his grandsons carried him to his last resting place. His hair was gray, but his brow was unfurrowed. He could have been easily ten years, or twenty, younger as far as looks were concerned. He had known little of sickness through his more than four score and three years but the grim reaper came. Life had been rich and full. He was proud of his large family, and took a keen interest in the work of the church everywhere; but now he had departed. In my mind's eye I can see him with the joy in his eye as I would come home during the FORTY YEARS. My children loved the opportunity to visit with Grandpa.
When I was a baby just past one year of age he went with my mother to Beamsville to attend the old Beamsville Bible School. He spent three terms there and a part. He became well versed in the New Testament. Shortly before he died he made this observation: I do not think anyone can quote a verse wrong and I would not know it.
He loved people. He never was too busy to visit and brethren in particular were always welcome, especially if they came from any distance. Dad could visit, through their minds, other places. He took a keen interest in many subjects.
I first remember my father and mother at the time we moved to Selkirk, Ontario. I was three years and seven months old. Dad was the preacher there for six years. Then we moved to Thessalon, Ontario. There were six members there and Dad and Mother made eight. A cousin and I were the first to render obedience to the gospel there. Others followed. I suppose several hundred have obeyed from the work that was started there. Many have crossed the turbulent waters of Jordan but several congregations exist to testify to the effectiveness of that work that was done fifty years and more ago.
Of the original eight that made up the work when my parents moved to Thessalon in 1913, five of them are still living and several of them are still members of the North Livingstone congregation. Brother and Sister Howard Whitfield were of that number and will shortly celebrate their sixtieth wedding anniversary. (Since writing this, they have celebrated this anniversary.) From the work done by those eight members has come the North Livingstone work, the McNab Street work, and the East Side Work (both in Sault Ste. Marie) and the Iron Bridge congregation.
When we first moved to Thessalon Dad worked at his trade for a summer and then he and Uncle Bob went into the sawmill business. This lasted for several years but was not too much of a success. We moved to a farm in 1916. Here Dad and Mother remained until the family was grown.
In 1941 I made a trip from Meaford, Ontario, to Western Canada. Dad and Mother accompanied me and following this Dad went to preach for the church at Omagh, Ontario. After a short sojourn there Dad went into Northern Quebec to labour with the brethren at Farnborough. From there he went to Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, to help the struggling group that was there. While he made numerous trips to various places this was his home until the end came.
In the obituary I wrote when He passed on I had this to say and I think it is worthy of a place in this chapter: When it came to hobby riding a favourite passage of Dad's is found in Ecclesiastes 7:16 Be not righteous overmuch; neither make thyself overwise; why shouldest thou destroy thyself ? Many controversies raged during his long life but he never permitted himself to be carried away with any extreme position. It was said of Abel of old, He being dead yet speaketh. I am sure the words are not out of place in using them in respect to him who was my father. Dad had his faults but they are easily forgotten in one who loved the church and his family so unselfishly.
The influence of the life that he lived will beat upon the farthest shores of eternity for good.
Published in The Old Paths Archive
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