Report: Guelph Bible Conference Centre in Guelph, Ontario, Canada

March 3, 2020
Ken Morrish

Located in Guelph, Ontario, Guelph Bible Conference Centre (GBCC), is one hour west of Toronto, one and a half hours from Niagara Falls and Buffalo, and approximately three hours from Michigan. It has a rich history of ministering to the assemblies in Canada, the United States, and the Bahamas.

The Beginning

An invitation to hear a proposal by John A. McAllister was sent out to many assemblies on November 7, 1933. The proposal was to use the McAllister estate (15 acres on the edge of the city of Guelph) as a place to minister the Word of God. The resulting temporary committee of men, representing many of these assemblies wrote the following proposal:

“John A. McAllister will purchase the property on Waterloo Ave. from the McAllister Estate and then deed it to this committee on the condition that the Grounds will be used every year for the purpose stated below….”

The Purpose

“The purpose in view is to gradually develop these Grounds to be used for:

Annual general conferences for believers during the period between May 24th and Labor Day

Suitable accommodations could be provided for missionaries on furlough

Summer camps for boys, and for girls, at different times

Bible School, for those who might desire to spend two weeks at a time or longer, under definite Christian instruction”

The Result

The first July 2nd conference had 500 in attendance, and approximately 225 were present at the first Civic Holiday Conference. Early speakers included B.M. Nottage, J. Bloor, E. Tatham, H.A. Ironside, Mr. Chambers, and Mr. Hoogandam. The first 10-day Bible School under the auspices of H.G. Lockett ran from 1935 until 1962.

The preaching started off with tents erected on the grounds and later the Tabernacle was built. Individual families who wanted to stay over were given permission to build their own cabins on the grounds. They remained the property of the Conference Grounds but these individuals were able to use the cabins when they were present. A central washroom was constructed and a swimming pool was built by hand in the 1950’s. It is still in operation today! In 1962, additional bathrooms were installed in the McAllister estate home, now known as the Lodge. One by one bathrooms were also added to the cabins.

In 1964, it was decided to operate year-round. In 1980, the current Fellowship Lounge and Gymnasium were constructed followed by the Inn in 1987 with an addition completed in 2001. Temperature conditioned year-round, the Inn now has 25 motel-style rooms and 8 dorm rooms, all with private washrooms. The Ministry Centre was finished in 2008 replacing the “adored” but old Tabernacle. The Auditorium below can seat up to 275 people with 3 meeting rooms for smaller groups on the “walk out” level including the Fireside Room.

The deed for the Grounds was originally held by CMML and then by MSC. In 1988, the MSC Board decided to turn the ownership over to the Guelph Board (comprised of men from various assemblies) thus creating its own entity.

The Board is pleased to have numerous assembly conferences call GBCC their home. The Ontario Workers and Elders Conference, the Conference of Brethren, and the Guelph Ladies Conference to name a few are now an official part of the ministry of the Conference Centre, whose committees plan their programs as they have for decades. As we look to the future, we are converting the original cabin washroom to use for Day Camp, renovating some cabins, and restoring the Lodge. For years we have wanted to restore the Lodge and are happy to see this restoration officially get underway. Praise be to God!

We continue to pursue the purpose that Mr. and Mrs. John McAllister had on their heart when this ministry began 86 years ago. GBCC is their legacy as well as each one who has invested their prayers, time, and resources to be able to provide a place “for the building up of the household of faith.” 

Guelph Bible Conference Centre provides programs to instruct and edify children, youth, and adults. It is also a place for children, youth, women, or men to have weekday and weekend retreats, to be a testimony of Christ’s love to this world. If, you have any questions please contact us at 519-824-2571 or [email protected]