Houses of Holy | Grace Anglican Church (1851)

Sitting high above the downtown of Milton sits a squat, grey stone structure that would look better as a small country church in England than here in Ontario. You may also think that this was the oldest church in town, and while it is among the early congregations downtown, it is not the oldest.

Houses of Holy - Grace Anglican Church (1851)
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Saddlebag preachers were not only a Methodist means of holding services; the Anglican Church also employed missionary or itinerant ministers who travelled through rural areas to have services outside the major urban areas. These ministers began to hold services in Milton in 1844. As the town grew, attending these home-based services convinced the Diocese of Hamilton to establish a proper parish. Land for the church came through a donation from Jasper Martin in 1851, sitting high above Sixteen Mile Creek near the centre of the village. A wooden frame church with a tall steeple was erected and became a local landmark throughout Milton. Originally ministers were supplied by circuit riders, but in 1854 a permanent rector was assigned, and in 1855 it was consecrated by Bishop Strachan. A water pump organ was added in 1886. But as the town grew, so did the parish, and it became clear that a new sanctuary was needed as the wooden frame structure was starting to show its age. Charles Gibson was hired to design a new stone church, using inspiration from the Norman churches of England and the Gothic Revival style. Starting in 1890, the parish began to gather materials and funds through a volunteer effort; it wasn’t until 1895 that the construction began. The cornerstone was laid by Governor-General John Hamilton-Gordon, 7th Earl of Aberdeen. Construction lasted five months, with the rector, Rev P.T. Mignot, laying the final capstone and applying his signature on the bell tower. The original structure was stripped of the building, moved to the property’s rear, and turned into the parish hall. To save the strain on the bells, a Carilon system was installed in 1925, and a set of stairs up from the sidewalk were added in 1926. An oak altar was added in 1943, and the bells were restored in 1944. The old building underwent renovations through the 1950s, adding a basement and several Sunday school rooms. Starting in 1999, the parish underwent renovations and updates to address structural concerns, restore the stained glass and install an electronic organ and Carillon system. Today, Grace remains an active and vibrant church in downtown Milton and is most known for its connection to Mark Curtis, Milton’s Singing Priest.

Of all the downtown churches, Grace is probably the easiest to photograph. Being positioned well outside the narrow stretch with buildings on both sides and having good sight lines. Going out later in the day certainly helped as the sun was behind me as I positioned myself in a car park across the road. While the hill did not help, I used the 210mm lens and raised my front standard. This gives a good sense of scale and shows a bit of the original building peaking out from behind the 1895 sanctuary. I did try and wait for no cars, but one still snuck through.

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!

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