GRACE UNITED CHURCH
A HERITAGE CHURCH - Since 1852
This predominately Romanesque church, designed by the renowned Victorian architect William Thomas, was built in 1852, for a local 'Tree Kirk' Presbyterian congregation. It was one of over one hundred significant buildings designed by Thomas. Others wonderful examples of his work here in Niagara-on-the-Lake are the historic Court House and Brock Monument.
In 1873, the church was leased to the Gate Street Methodist congregation and in 1875, they purchased the property and began renovating the Sanctuary. While awaiting completion of the renovations, the congregation met in a room over the 'Old Apothecary' on Queen Street. Upon completion the building became known as the Victoria Street Methodist Church.
With Church Union (the Congregational, Methodist and some Presbyterian followers) in 1925, this building became home to the new United Church denomination and was renamed Grace United Church.
Beautiful stained glass windows were installed in 1926 and 1929.
METHODIST ROOTS & THE WAR OF 1812-14
In 1795, the Niagara Methodist Circuit stretched from York to the Grand River and from Newark to Fort Erie to Long Point. Rev. Darius Dunham was the first ordained minister and Circuit Rider. At the time, there were only 65 members (plus some adherents); however, by the start of the War of 1812-1814 this number had increased to approximately 800 members and there were 5 circuit riders.
One of the first Niagara converts was Christian Warner. He had fought during the American Revolutionary War alongside the British, then joined Butler's Rangers, who had formed in the Niagara area, and when the Rangers disbanded he joined the Lincoln Militia.
As a United Empire Loyalist, when Warner moved his family to Niagara he was given land on which to homestead. He hosted the first Methodist Meetings in Niagara and later donated the land for the first Methodist Meeting House (the 3rd in Upper Canada) and the Warner Cemetery.
As most Methodist circuit riders/preachers and many members were American born, they were very unpopular during the war and many, with the permission of the Governor General, returned to the United States. As a result of this, the loss of members during the war, and vandalism of their buildings (American forces used the Warner Meeting House as a warehouse and burned it when they retreated), by 1815 membership had dropped to 220. No records can be found for the period of the war.
However, after the war, Methodism had a revival and by 1828 there were 2800 members and 14 preachers in the Circuit. One of the significant changes that occurred during the intervening years was a break from the American Methodist organization and the formation of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Canada in 1824. It was part of the Wesleyan Methodist Conference of Great Britain.
HISTORIC NIAGARA METHODIST CHURCHES
The Warner Church/Chapel, Warner Rd, Niagara-on-the-Lake was built in 1801 for 300 converts (log building). The new Warner Church was built in 1870 and sold in 1908.
The Queenston Chapel was built as a Wesleyan Methodist Meeting House in 1862. In 2010 the church was moved to the site of the Laura Secord Park.
In 1813, St. David's Church was built on land donated by Major David Secord, for a church, school and cemetery; it was burned with the town in 1814. While a new church was started in 1815, a division between two branches of Methodism delayed its completion until 1843. In 1998, St. David's and Queenston churches joined to form St. David's-Oueenston United Church.
The Gate Street Meeting House was built in 1823 and used until 1875 when it was moved to Prideaux and Gate and became a private residence.
The Victoria Street Methodist Church became Grace United Church upon Church Union in 1925.
The Virgil Meeting House was built in 1840 at the Cross Roads in Virgil. In 1965 the congregation joined Grace United and the building was later demolished.
NIAGARA METHODIST CEMETERIES
The Gate Street Methodist Cemetery is located at the corner of Gate and Gage Street, Niagara-on-the-Lake. It is now closed.
The Virgil Methodist Cemetery is located on Creek Road behind Lawrenceville Restaurant. It is also closed.
The Warner Cemetery on Warner Road is also a United Empire Loyalist Cemetery. It is still open for burials.
Right Window: I am the Good Shepherd installed in 1929 and dedicated to WWI soldiers and early Methodists.
Left Window: Jesus Knocking on the Door
Donated by the Peake family in 1926.
Window over the office staircase.
Originally installed in Virgil United Church.
Front Window: Angel at the Empty Tomb
Designed & manufactured by the Toronto firm Pringle and London.
SERVICES AND MINISTRY
SUNDAY SERVICES at 10:30 a.m.
Telephone: 905-468-4044 Website:
Rev. David Pritchard: Minister
(aka Rev. Ninian Holmes)