In 1818, a petition was submitted by many prominent citizens in Chippawa stating that they had raised funds for the building of a church and requesting the appointment of a clergyman. In 1820, the Reverend William Leeming was sent by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, the missionary branch of the Church of England, to Niagara for the purpose of establishing an Anglican Church. The first Trinity Anglican Church, in Chippawa, a white frame structure with Gothic-style windows and a steeple, was erected on the Portage Road in 1821. The Church was consecrated in 1828, and prospered until the 1837 Rebellion of Upper Canada, when it was set ablaze and destroyed on the night of September 12, 1839.
Plans were made to rebuild, and work began on the new church in the spring of 1841. The cornerstone of what is the present structure of the church was laid on August 18, 1841, by Right Reverend Bishop Strachan, Lord Bishop of the Toronto diocese. The Church was designed by architect John George Howard, and was a virtual replica of the old Gothic-style church. Holy Trinity Anglican Church was completed in 1842, and a bell for the steeple was donated by Thomas Clark Street in that same year. This bell cracked soon after, however, and was replaced in 1852. The church was consecrated in 1854, when it was free of debt. Over the years, many famous personalities both local and international have worshipped at the church. The Prince of Wales (the future King Edward VII), and the famous singer Jenny Lind both attended services while visiting the Niagara area; Laura Secord and her husband James were members of the congregation for many years, and although they were buried in Drummond Hill Cemetery, their funerals were conducted at this church. A provincial historical plaque was unveiled in 1965 to commemorate the historical importance of this early church. In 1984, the church underwent extensive renovations to its interior and exterior.
When Sir Peregrine Maitland was appointed Lt. Governor of Upper Canada, he encouraged the Anglicans to establish churches in this area. Through the influence of Reverend William Leeming, who came to Stamford in 1820, the first parish of an Episcopal Church was begun in Stamford. In September, 1820, Captain Robert Henry Dee donated land to build a church, on the east side of Portage Road. He also contributed money and furnishings to the first Anglican Church in Stamford, St. John the Evangelist. The church was consecrated on September 28, 1825, and Reverend William Leeming was its first rector.
In 1882, a Sunday School building was erected on land directly south of the church property. The rectory, a large structure with five bedrooms, was built south of the church in 1888, for the rector and his family. In 1895, the church underwent extensive renovations: box pews were replaced with bench style open pews; a new walnut lectern, prayer desk, furnace and carpeting were installed. St. John's Church became a separate parish in 1902. Electricity was installed in both the church and rectory in the early 1900s, and a few years later, an outer kitchen, porch and large veranda were added to the rectory. In 1932, a parish hall was erected. In the post-war years, the parish experienced unprecedented growth, and as a result, a decision was made to build a new church in 1955. Ground was broken for the new church on March 31, 1957, and the church was dedicated on December 4, 1957. In 1959, St. John's Church received a bequest of over $60,000 from the estate of George E. Russell, a former parishioner and warden. This gift allowed the church to pay off its debts and proceed with the construction of a new rectory and parish hall. The old parish hall and rectory were demolished to provide room for the new structures. The old St. John's Church was de-consecrated in 1963, and the building is now used as a columbarium, a repository for cremation remains.
In the 1830s, Reverend F. W. Miller purchased former crown land on Main Street in Drummondville and built a chapel in 1835 or 1836, which was called St. George's. After Rev. Miller's death in 1847, his sister Caroline Miller deeded St. George's Church to Reverend William Leeming, who was the rector until 1856, when the church was taken down, and the parish moved to the new All Saints' Church.
When Reverend Leeming came to Drummondville in 1820, he formed its small population of Anglicans and some converts from other denominations into a strong Anglican parish. For a number of years, Rev. Leeming preached at the log church on Drummond Hill, and it was not until 1854 that the Anglican community in Drummondville was able to erect a church, primarily through the efforts of the Reverend Charles Leicester Ingles. This church was built of Niagara gorge limestone, donated by Saul Davis, and was located on Robinson Street. The structure was designed by William Hay and built by William Russell. It was dedicated on All Saints' Day, November 1st, 1856, and as a result, was named All Saints' Church.
A rectory was built prior to 1871 for the Reverend and his family at the comer of Robinson and Main Street. In 1889, a parish hall was added to the church. This hall was renovated in the early 1900s, and a new organ was installed in the church in 1905. In 1924, the rectory required renovation.
In February, 1931, a Sunday School was established in Dorchester Hall, in the old Lefferty House at the corner of Dorchester Road and Lundy's Lane. In March, 1935, the cornerstone was laid for a mission church on Dorchester Road, and this mission later became the parish of St. Martin's. After the Second World War, St. Martin's grew rapidly, and as a result, a new wing was added to the church and the old part of the parish hall was renovated. From 1956 to 1957, the church underwent extensive restoration and renovation, and in 1960, the old parish hall was replaced. By 1982, the old rectory, which required considerable renovation, was sold and has since been demolished. In 2004, St. Martin's closed due to rising costs and further declining attendance.
In 1863, a few Anglican families began to hold Sunday Services in the waiting room of the Great Western Railway Station (present location of the Via-GO station). In 1864, a building committee was established to solicit subscriptions for the financing of an Anglican church in the area. The cornerstone of the church was laid on July 31st, and the church opened on December 17, 1865. This church, named Christ Church, was a mission of Holy Trinity Church in Chippawa until 1874, when Clifton became a separate parish. By 1893, the population of the area had doubled and extensive additions, which increased the seating capacity of the church by two-thirds, were necessary to accommodate the growing parish. A rectory was built in 1879, and Sunday School buildings added in 1907. A carillon, consisting of a set of ten bells, was installed in 1912, and hymns are still played on the carillon on Sunday mornings and holidays. In 1988-1989, a generous bequest from the estate of Hector Murray Simpson made possible a total restoration of the interior and exterior of Christ Church. While services were held in the parish hall, the roof was re-tiled, and the outer stone walls re-mortared. The stained glass windows, pews and decorations were removed, and the organ pipes stored before the interior walls were completely rebuilt, with steel studding, vapour barriers and insulation. The wiring and light fixtures were updated, and the church was redecorated with new paint and trim. The church offered its first service after the renovations on March 25, 1989. In 1990, Christ Church celebrated the 125th anniversary of its establishment.
Interview with Brooke Blackburn
Fall Film Series: Heroic Journeys – Black Histories on Screen
The J4BL Book Club
Fall Film Series: Heroic Journeys – Black Histories on Screen