1 Church Street East, Colborne

Colborne United Church, (1862)
Roll No. 1411-012-010-27400-0000 – Cramahe Township Ontario

Gothic Church

The first church was built in Colborne in 1823 as a meeting place for the Wesleyan Methodist congregation. On April 15th, 1830, Joseph Abbott Keeler presented the Methodist Trustee Board with the deed for Lot 82 in the Village of Colborne and a new church was built in 1830/32. The first parsonage was at the North end of the lot, the church was in the middle facing West, and the cemetery was in the South section of the lot.

In 1862 the present church was built out of bricks manufactured on Keeler’s property West of Colborne. For some years after the new church was built, the old frame church was used as an exhibition hall by the Cramahe Agricultural Society. In 1889/90 the Sunday school and vestry were added to the north section of the church and at the same time, other alterations were done. In 1900, the building was again remodelled, by taking out the sides and gallery and widening the building. When this last renovation was completed the building no longer resembled the 1862 model. It is now clad in stucco. In 1889/90 Daniel Lewis Simmons ad his wife, Eliza Ann, presented the church with a pipe organ as a gift.

The United church was created in 1925 when the various sections of the Methodist faith amalgamated.

The church served the community until circa 2010 when, given its size, it became the preferred site for funerals and other community functions.

By 2017, it was in private hands with plans to turn it into a performance space to serve all of Cramahe towns

History or Associative Value

15 April, 1830, Joseph Abbott Keeler , the acknowledged founder of Colborne, Castleton and Norwood, provided the land on which the Colborne United Church (formerly Episcopal Methodist) stands. The church was built and it opened its doors on 23 May 1823.

Additional Historical and Genealogical Information

United Church, 1 Church Street East, Colborne
Cramahe Township, Concession 2, Lot 31
Reid Lot 82

The first settlers in Cramahe Township arrived from Rutland, Vermont, in 1793 under the leadership of Joseph Keeler (1763-1839). Among the early settlers were George Asahel Palmer (1761-1833) and his wife Hannah (1765-1832, née Wilkinson). On their arrival, the Palmers took possession of the 200 acres of land in Concession 2, Lot 31. This land was officially deeded to George Palmer by the Crown on 15 July 1802.

Palmer sold his 200 acres to Joseph Keeler on 18 January 1812, on the same day buying from Keeler 150 acres in Concession 1, Lot 30, just to the south and one lot east of the property they sold. Basically, Palmer and Keeler appear to have simply exchanged the two properties.

Joseph Keeler transferred the “front part” of Lot 31 to his son Joseph Abbott Keeler (1788-1855) on 15 January 1824. On acquiring the land from his father, Joseph A. Keeler proceeded to subdivide it, selling, among other properties, the land that would later be designated Reid Lot 81.

Joseph Abbott Keeler provided the land on which the United Church now stands to the Episcopal Methodist Church on 15 April 1830.

The first Methodist Church in Colborne opened its doors on 23 May 1823, but neither How Firm a Foundation (Argyris 2000) nor a 1962 pamphlet published by the United Church on the 100th anniversary of the construction of the current building indicate where that original church stood. Was it at the site of the present Church, on land owned by Joseph Keeler, or was it elsewhere? The second Methodist Church was definitely built on the property of interest here, shortly after the property was provided by Joseph Abbott Keeler. The United Church pamphlet states that this 1830 Church faced west. This is interesting because land office records suggest that Percy Street, which is immediately west of the Church property, did not exist at that time.

The original parsonage was immediately north of the church. It was destroyed by fire between 1851 and 1853 and was replaced by a new parsonage on the south side of Church Street East.

By 1862 the congregation had outgrown the 1830 church, so it was replaced that year by the Church that still exists on the site. Renovations and/or additions to the church occurred in 1875, 1890, and 1900.

The Methodist Church became a United Church when the Methodist Church, the Congregationalist Church, and many Presbyterian congregations combined in 1925.

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