45 King St. E, Colborne

Old St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church (1833)
Roll No. 1411-012-020-07100-0000 – Cramahe Township Ontario

Georgian Stone Church

The history of all the churches in Colborne begins with the travelling preachers. They rode or trod the rude forest trails of Upper Canada ministering to small groups of settlers who met to worship in their homes. These ministers lit the torch of the old faith in the new land.One of those intrepid souls was the Rev. Robert McDowal, the first Presbyterian missionary in this part of the province. He covered the territory between Brockville in the East and York, now Toronto, in the West. How important his arrival was in the small isolated settlements can be readily imagined. “The Missionary is coming” was the signal for an immediate gathering. Sermons were preached, children baptized and couples married – a truly momentous occasion.

This church, built from local stone, was begun in 1830 on land acquired by the Presbyterian congregation from Joseph A. Keeler, a prominent local merchant and the person considered to be the founder of Castleton and Colborne. Keeler asked only that he have a seat reserved for him. The church was designed by Archibald Fraser, a Scottish architect and builder, in a plain and classically proportioned Georgian style and, upon
completion in 1833, services were held under the direction of the Reverend Matthew Miller. When one considers the conditions of the time, the hauling of the stone alone must have been a Herculean effort, an ox trail through the woods being the only road. Timber could easily and cheaply be obtained, for the forest was still at their doorstep, but it is clear that these pioneers made the right decision as the stout old walls of Old St. Andrew’s have withstood almost two centuries of wind and weather.

History or Associative Value

Old St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, built in 1833 of limestone quarried locally. It is the oldest church still standing in the township of Cramahe, and it has one of the oldest continuous congregations in the Province of Ontario.

Additional Historical and Genealogical Information

St. Andrews Presbyterian Church, 45 King Street East, Colborne Cramahe Township, Concession 2, Lot 31
Reid Lot 165

Lot 31, Concession 2 was first settled by George (1761-1833) and Hannah (1765-1832) Palmer, who arrived with Joseph Keeler (1763-1839) in 1793 or shortly thereafter. George Palmer was officially granted the 200 acres comprising Lot 31 on 15 July 1802 and he sold them to Joseph Keeler on 12 January 1812. On 15 January 1824, Joseph Keeler transferred the southern 100 acres of Lot 31 to his son Joseph Abbott Keeler (1788-1855).

Construction of the Presbyterian Church was completed on land still owned by Joseph A. Keeler in 1833. Keeler did not officially transfer title of the property to the Church until 18 October 1854. Additions were made to the building in 1911.

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