Stained glass expert restores church windows
Brian Metcalfe is the go-to guy when it comes to stained glass restoration in this area.
He is currently working on the windows at St. Luke’s Anglican Church but has had a hand in restoring windows at churches in Dunedin, Creemore, Collingwood, Stayner, Elmvale, Barrie and across Simcoe County, including the recent decommissioning of the stained glass windows at the United Church in Avening and restoring them for display at the newly renovated United Church in New Lowell.
For a few years, whenever called upon by the congregation, Metcalfe has been restoring the windows’ leading, installing thermal panes and repairing the frames and sills.
He said churches are looking to preserve their stained glass while also making the building more heat efficient.
At St. Luke’s, Metcalfe has yet to do the windows behind the alter.
The church was built in 1886 under the leadership of Rev. WR Forster, originally from England.
“It is believed Mr. Forster secured some of the necessary funds from friends in England. At all events the beautiful chancel windows and leaded windows in the body of the church came direct from the old land, donated by friends of the rector,” writes Charles Smith in the church’s 100-year history.
Metcalfe said the memorial window is a well-crafted piece using many intricate techniques.
Parishioner Dorothy Shropshire said people come to the church to see the stained glass windows. Last year, there was a bus trip organized through the Royal Ontario Museum and another group from the William Morris Society is interested in visiting next year.
Metcalfe works under the name of Rainbow Makers Stained Glass in Barrie. The child of two artists, Metcalfe said he was determined not to be an artist so he became a craftsman.
He studied stained glass before going to art school. In the summer of 1979, he set up at Kempenfest, displaying his glasswork and set up shop shortly afterwards.
Once very popular, stained glass fell out of fashion in the 1950s but experienced a resurgence in the late 1970s, said Metcalfe.
At 22 he went into business for himself and spent many years specializing in restaurant interiors, including Kelsey’s restaurants across the country. Metcalfe had a retail location and several employees in Barrie until he closed in 2001 and now he travels around the county doing the work that really interests him, including restoration work.
As an aside, Rev. Forster was the first rector of the church to take up residence in the area and as a result built Claverleigh in 1872 as the church’s first rectory. See The Way We Were on page 4.
Claverleigh was designated a national historic site in 1990 as a very fine representative example of a Gothic Revival-style villa.