The earliest residents of Stamford Township were Loyalists who came to Canada from the United States to remain loyal to Britain during the American Revolution. Many of these immigrants were Presbyterians of Scottish origin, and soon after settling in this area they began to worship in each other’s home, thus creating the first Presbyterian congregation in 1784. In 1791, the Stamford Presbyterian Meeting House was built on lot 55 of the common land in Stamford Township, now 3121 St. Paul Street. This church was the first church in Upper Canada to be built by public subscription, and was located at roughly the same location as the present church, facing St. Paul Avenue. It was a simple log structure with a clapboard exterior and large windows on each side. The church began as a mission, with no permanent minister, and visiting Christian preachers of any denomination were invited to preach there. John Dunn was appointed the first minister of the church in 1794.
In 1870, the original church building was sold and dismantled, and a new church, a frame structure of 'neat Gothic style', was erected at a cost of $1800. In 1893, the box stoves used to heat the building were replaced with a hot air furnace. Electric lighting was installed in 1909, and a basement was added in the 1930's. In 1951, the church spire was restored, but the four smaller spires at each corner were removed. The church was enlarged to provide additional Sunday school space in 1956. In 1968, work began on a Christian Education wing for the church. This wing was named the "William J. Walker Memorial Wing," in honour of the Reverend Walker, who served from 1958-1964. This building was officially opened on April 13, 1969. The Stamford Presbyterian Church celebrated its bi-centennial anniversary in 1984.
The first church in this area was a schoolhouse located atop Drummond Hill. It was a community structure which had been built by Presbyterians, Anglicans, Methodists, Baptists, as well as some Lutherans and Quakers. This log structure opened in 1795, and served as both a church and as the first schoolhouse in the district. In 1801, the Reverend Daniel Ward Eastman came to Stamford Township and helped to establish the Drummond Hill Presbyterian congregation. Under his guidance, the first Drummond Hill Presbyterian Church was built near the corner of Drummond Hill and Lundy's Lane.
The Drummond Hill Presbyterian Church was destroyed in the Battle of Lundy's Lane (July 25th 1814), which was fought on the heights around it. It was a setback for the Drummond Hill congregation, and they held services in one another's homes for a while before deciding to rebuild the church. This new church was located west of the present Drummond Hill Church, and was in use by 1819. Eventually, this church proved inadequate to service the growing congregation.
A new rough-cast stone church was built in 1836-1837, at approximately the same location as the present Drummond Hill Presbyterian Church occupies. It had a gabled front which was supported by four square columns, and the inside of the church was white with black mouldings. The total cost of the project was about $2,000. Soon after it was finished, the building was rented by the government and used as a hospital during the Rebellion of 1837. A pulpit and pews for the church members were not added until 1844, which is also the year to which the earliest written church records date. During the 1850's and 1860's, ministers changed frequently, and the church was held together mostly by the efforts of the elders who possessed great authority, and consequently great responsibility, in the church.
By 1886, the congregation had grown so large that it could not be accommodated within the existing church. It was sold to J. Harrison Pew who moved it to his property on Lundy's Lane (where the Bon Villa stands today), and William Lowell offered to pay for the construction of a new brick church. On August 29, 1886, the cornerstone was laid by Mrs. Lowell, and on March 5, 1887, it was dedicated in honour of Queen Victoria's jubilee. This building has survived as the present Drummond Hill Presbyterian Church, although alterations and additions have been made to the structure.
During the 1890's, the church was enlarged, stained glass windows were added, and new heating pipes, an oil tank and a water cooler were installed. In 1929, construction began on a new building, which included a gymnasium, and the cornerstone was laid on June 27 of that year. The congregation continued to grow rapidly, and by 1959, additions were necessary. Plans were made to construct a Christian education building, a new front and tower for the church, and to rebuild the junior Sunday school room. These were completed and formally dedicated on June 21st, 1961.
Prior to the construction of St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, there were no churches in the town of Clifton. Land at the corner of St. Clair Avenue and Queen Street, was donated by Samuel Zimmerman and Mr. Benedict, and Zimmerman also financed much of the construction.
St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church was opened and dedicated on September 21st, 1856. The St. Andrew's congregation was organized on October 11th of the same year, and Reverend George Bell of Simcoe was appointed its first minister on February 11, 1857. All of the Protestant denominations in Clifton worshipped in this early church, until each became strong enough to organize its own church. St. Andrew's Church initially prospered, but with the death of Samuel Zimmerman in 1857, the church, along with the rest of Clifton, suffered a serious setback. All of the plans which Zimmerman had envisioned for the town were put on hold as Clifton slid into an economic depression. It was only through the untiring efforts of Reverend Bell that the church survived and was able to pay off its mortgage in 1867.
Over the years, many minor changes were made to the structure of the church. A furnace, carpeting and new seats were added in 1892, and a pipe organ was installed in 1903. A manse was built in 1877 on Queen Street, west of St. Clair Avenue, where it stood until May, 1929, when it was purchased by the government as the site of the new Post Office. A Sunday School was built in 1906, and additions were made in 1924-1925. In 1958, the church was sold to the government, who demolished it in 1962, to make room for a new annex to the Post Office. A new St. Andrew's Church near the corner of Morrison Street and Stanley Avenue was opened on September 10, 1961.
Community Art Project
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