2012 Anniversary Vignette #2
The origins of Dominion Methodist Church [Photograph] – “the Mother Church of Methodism in Ottawa”, can be traced back to the second decade of the 19th Century.
Dominion Methodist Church with the ornate tower that was later removed.
As early as 1816, itinerant Methodist preachers, known as circuit-riders, visited settlements in the Township of Hull and established “classes” that met in private homes. By 1822-23, this form of organized church life was extended across the river to Bytown. In 1827, a small wooden chapel was built on Rideau Street. When destroyed by fire a few months later, a brick chapel was constructed nearby. In 1830, a second Methodist Chapel was built on Sparks Street between Bank and Kent in Upper Town. These chapels were the first Methodist houses of worship in the settlement of Bytown, which was incorporated as Ottawa in 1855.
In 1852, the Lower Town and Upper Town Chapels united and built Metcalfe Street Methodist Church. This church, described as “severely plain”, stood on the northwest corner of Queen and Metcalfe Streets [Photograph in Vignette #1]. Rev. W. J. Hunter, the last of the 23 ministers who led the congregation between 1852 and 1874, had the vision of creating a great Methodist Church in Ottawa. A man of strong convictions and person skills, Rev. Hunter was able to inspire the congregation to raise the necessary funds in spite of the severe depression that Ottawa experienced in 1874. In 1874, the old Metcalfe Street Methodist Church was demolished to make way for a larger, grander building on the same site. For the next year, services were held in the Opera House of Albert Street.
At the laying of the corner stone on 09 July 1875, the new building was named Dominion Methodist Church in recognition of the contributions from congregations across Canada that had helped to fund its construction. By 26 December 1875, the congregation was able to hold its worship services in the basement of their new church. The dedication service for the completed Dominion Methodist Church was held at the evening service on 15 October 1876. The total cost of the new building was $55,000, $30,000 of which was raised from the congregation.
The membership of Dominion Methodist Church, which was 270 in 1876, increased during the next 50 years. Dubbed the “Mother Church of Methodism” in Ottawa, Dominion Church welcomed distinguished congregants, including two Prime Ministers (Sir John A. MacDonald and Sir Mackenzie Bowell), as well as prominent preachers and other speakers (e.g. Ralph Connor, Nellie McClung). Members of Dominion Church were actively involved in the First World War, both on the home front and in Europe (Vignette #6).
On 10 June 1925, Dominion Methodist Church “whole-heartedly” entered the United Church of Canada (Vignette #7).