STEWART MEMORIAL CHURCH
(formerly St. Paul’s African Methodist Episcopal Church)
114 John Street North, Hamilton
Founded c. 1835 as St. Paul’s AME Church, Stewart Memorial Church represents the longest surviving predominantly Black congregation within the City of Hamilton.
First housed in a log structure on Rebecca Street, just east of John Street North, the congregation acquired its present building in 1879. This modest clapboard church, erected in 1848, was remodelled c. 1905 with a Gothic Revival brick exterior.
One of the most prominent figures in the history of Stewart Memorial Church was the Reverend John C. Holland, who played an instrumental role in keeping the church open when the congregation was faced with financial difficulties during the Depression years. The decision in 1937 to sever ties with the African Methodist Episcopal body resulted in the formation of a non-denominational church, renamed in commemoration of the previous minister, Reverend Claude A Stewart.
The history of Stewart Memorial Church attests to the importance of the church as both a religious and social centre for Hamilton’s community of African descent, beginning with the establishment of the earliest churches following the first influx of fugitive slaves into the Hamilton area in the 1820s.
Erected with the assistance of the Ontario Heritage Foundation
Designated under the Ontario Heritage Act
Submitted by Owen Anderson