Methodist Church, Part 2

A United front, St. James 180 years in Waterdown

Rebuilt of pointed rubble stone, the church was enlarged to serve the large and growing congregation. The cost of construction was over a thousand dollars, but only a small debt remained after the opening services, subscriptions and fundraising. The re-opening service and associated events received considerable publicity from not only the Christian Guardian, but the weekly editions of the Hamilton Times and The Spectator.

Reverend Egerton Ryerson and W. Jeffers, Editor of the Christian Guardian, preached the opening sermons on December 17, 1865 to between 400 and 500 people. Since the total population of Waterdown in 1865 was 768 people, the occasion received tremendous support and was a reflection of the strength of the Methodist Church in the area.

An account of the following day’s activities at the Township Hall was also reported:

“…a SoirĂ©e in connection with the Wesleyan Church was given by the ladies in the Township Hall. A very large and intelligent audience assembled to appreciate their efforts. Tea was served, the Rev. Lachlan Taylor delivered one of his popular lectures and a select choir from Hamilton entertained the meeting. We are pleased to learn that the net proceeds were over $100 which will leave but a trifling debt on the church which the friends expect to pay off in a year or two.”

Further union between Methodist denominations occurred in 1874. In Waterdown, the New Connexion Methodists joined with the Wesleyan Methodists. The new congregation, now known as the Methodist Church, used the New Connexion building on the corner of Flamboro and Dundas streets as a Sunday School and the Wesleyan building as the church.

A new Sunday School was built in 1880, during the ministry of Rev. Joseph Holmes. Erected at the rear of the church, it was among a number of changes made to the building that also included the construction of a new gallery behind the pulpit for the choir. During the next 20 years, a number of societies within the church sprang up, including the Epworth League of the Young People’s Society, the Women’s Missionary Society, the Mission Band and the Willing Workers Class. All were dedicated to Christian education and community work.

In 1925, Church Union joined Methodists, Congregationalists and Presbyterians to form the United Church of Canada. In Waterdown, little in the way of change occurred; the building was renamed the United Church and continued to serve the community until 1957, when the congregation moved to the new St. James United Church on Parkside Drive. The original Methodist Church was sold to the Waterdown Alliance Church.

Sylvia Wray is the former archivist with the Flamborough Archives. She can be reached through the Archives at

This article was originally published in the Flamborough Review, 8 August 2008.


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