Rev. Carolyn Insley
I grew up in Woodstock, Ontario, where my father was a local high school Biology teacher. Those growing-up years were fun. I loved music. I played piano, oboe, and the violin (my favourite), which I learned classically. I could be found in orchestra or band practices many days before school began, Show Choir and other groups at lunch time; sports came after school. The sports I enjoyed longest were skating, cross country skiing, synchronized swimming, and field hockey. I was also in Brownies, and Guides,Explorers, our church choir, and our church youth group. Looking back, I wonder why I never felt busy. But somehow I always had time to read, walk for hours with our dog, a Samoyed/Boxer/Golden Retriever mix, and work on my hobbies, which were embroidery and sewing.
Summers always found me camping with my brother and parents. Most often we journeyed to Algonquin Park, where we sometimes had fun camping in the interior. Oh, how I love canoeing! A few times we camped to one coast or the other across Canada. I sure learned to appreciate this grand and vast country of ours.
My work career before becoming a minister was varied. I worked as a Stable Hand in Algonquin Park; in a Rest Home (I was responsible for the care of over 50 residents during my shifts); and I taught swimming and boating for the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines on First Nations Reserves in Northern Ontario. The Canada World Youth program took me to Saskatchewan where I again worked in a rest home, and then to Sri Lanka where I taught English and moved dirt. For a few months I could be found working on a mixed farm in the Ignatius Farm Community north of Guelph. The Iona Community in Scotland was also my home for a while, where I worked in a bake shop. I learned how to play recorder on that windy coast. (Recorders don’t make a sound when the wind blows up them, which is probably just as well at first…) I also lived and worked with Special Needs folk in the l’Arche communities founded by Jean Vanier – first for a year in France, and then another year in Hondouras. Even today I still get my Spanish and French all mixed up.
In the midst of all this, I received the call to become a minister. I thought one had to be crazy to become a minister. (I was right.) Once I finally accepted the call to be a minister, I was filled with peace, and I’ve never looked back. I did my undergrad in Religious Studies and Geography at Queen’s University, and later followed this with my Masters of Divinity at Queen’s Theological College. My year of internship was spent at a four point charge in the Alexandria, Ontario area, where I began to learn Celtic music on my violin. I guess you could say my violin began turning into a fiddle.
I was settled in New Brunswick, in the Bayfield-Little Shemogue Pastoral Charge, right along the coast where the Confederation Bridge goes over to Prince Edward Island. Such beauty there, and I loved the people. After three years, I knew it was time to leave, and in 2002 I accepted a call to North Gower Pastoral Charge. During my time at this charge, I got married and we now have two wonderful daughters.