Houses of Holy | St. Luke’s Anglican Church (1834)

Sitting outside downtown Burlington, St. Luke’s is one of the oldest surviving buildings in Burlington today. Built on land originally granted to the Mohawk War Chief, Thayendanegea (Joseph Brant), its burial grounds are the final resting place of many notable figures in Canadian history and the Anglican church.

St. Luke's Anglican Church (1834)
Graflex Crown Graphic – Schneider-Kreuznach Symmar-S 1:5.6/210 – Adox CHS 100 II @ ASA-100 – Adox Atomal 49 (Stock) 5:45 @ 20C

The land around Burlington Bay, which makes up most of downtown Burlington today, was a gift from the Crown to Thayendanegea for his service during the American Revolution and negotiations with the Indigenous People of Upper Canada following the establishment of the province. Originally known as Brant’s Park, the land was distributed among his children upon Thayendanega’s death in 1807. His daughter Elizabeth and her husband, William J. Kerr, had both converted to the Anglican church. Active members often hosted missionary preachers and itinerant ministers in their homes. As the population grew, they agreed to donate a section of their land to construct a church and establish a burial ground, a total of three acres of land. Construction of the church began in 1834, a simple wooden Carpenter Gothic building, with much of the work completed by A.B. Coleman, a local carpenter and builder. The overall look and feel of both the interior and exterior took from the Chapel Royal in Brantford, with a dark wood interior and simple exterior, which turned into a well-ornamented interior. The wooden church was completed the same year. Served regularly by saddlebag preachers, notably Rev Henry O’Neill and J.G. Geddes. As the congregation grew, the sanctuary attended by Bishop G.J. Mountain, Bishop of Quebec, concentrated the church to St. Luke on 4 October 1838 and posted Rev Thomas Greene as the permanent rector. Under Rev Greene’s forty-year tenure, St. Luke’s planted several other Anglican parishes throughout Halton County. In 1840 the churchyard received a great deal of landscaping, including planting several acacia trees. In 1850, the remains of Thayendanegea were exhumed and moved to Brantford. In 1899, the entire roof and steeple were removed, and the walls were cut down in height. A new roof was added with a slightly shallower pitch to match the angle of the chancel, and the steeple was reinstalled. Since then, the church has only undergone minor updates, such as installing electrical lights and stained glass windows. In 1923, a new Parish Hall dedicated to the church’s war dead was opened, and it was expanded in 2006 to provide better service to the broader community. Over the nearly two centuries of service, only ten rectors have served the congregation, and many would go on to become bishops and found their final rest in the churchyard. The sanctuary remains how it was initially built and renovated in 1899, and the congregation continues to serve downtown Burlington.

Coming up with the composition for St. Luke’s was the easy part, as despite being set in downtown Burlington, it is set far back on the property with plenty of lead space. Using my 210mm lens, I brought up the front standard to catch most of the steeple. The problem came with the exposure. The hard afternoon light made the white almost featureless and gave a wide range between it and the shadows. I lost a lot of shadow detail to maintain my highlights better. While I am not completely happy with the exposure, the composition is what matters more to me here.

If you wish to worship with this congregation, they will be happy to welcome you! Please check out the congregational website for details on attending services worship either in-person on online streaming!


  1. I believe I hat I may have been in school with a fellow whose father was the rector back in the late 1960s and in the 1970s. The last name is Blackwell. Do you know if he was one of the rectors?

    1. Author

      The name rings a bell, and there is a Rev John Blackwell buried at St. Luke’s cemetery. But I did not find a definitive list of past rectors of the church.

  2. I hear Rev Michael Coren is preaching. They’ll be filling the pews with LGBT+ people and allies!

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