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St. James-on-the-Lines Anglican Church

215, Church Street, Penetanguishene, Town of, Ontario, L9M, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1981/01/20

View to the façade to the east from Church  Street – 2006; OHT, 2006
View of the façade – 2006
View to the northwest through the graveyard – 2006; OHT,  2006
View of the south side – 2006
View of wide centre aisle to altar, reredos and sanctuary window –
1994; OHT, 1994
Interior view to altar – 1994

Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1836/01/01 to 1840/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2008/11/21

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The building at 215 Church Street, known as St. James-on-the-Lines Anglican Church, is situated at the northeast corner of Church Street and Cambridge Street, in the Town of Penetanguishene. The small wood-clad frame church was designed in the Greek Revival style and constructed between 1836-40.

The exterior and interior of the building and the scenic and aesthetic character of the property are protected by an Ontario Heritage Trust conservation easement (1981). The property is also designated by the Town of Penetanguishene under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act (Bylaw 81-43).

Heritage Value

Located at the northeast corner of Church Street and Cambridge Street in the town of Penetanguishene, the church is surrounded by large mature oak trees, and a cemetery, which includes the graves of Capt. John Moberly, R.N., Col. James Keating, Rev. George Hallen and many members of the military garrison, as well as some of the earliest settlers to the area.

St. James on-the-Lines Anglican Church is significant for its association with the British military and naval garrison of Penetanguishene and the history of Anglicanism in Huronia. "On-the-Lines" refers to the line of communications or road between Fort York and Fort Penetanguishene. In the early 1830s the Fort Adjutant at the Penetanguishene Military Establishment, Colonel James Keating, encouraged the construction of a church for the military men of the Fort. Lands were set aside by Sir John Colborne, Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada, in 1836 and a small church was later erected mid-way between the establishment and the Town of Penetanguishene. The military was there to guard British interests on the Upper Great Lakes from 1814 to 1852. Many famous regiments were represented at the military establishment, such as the Royal Berkshires, the Hindustan Regiment and the Warwickshires. Funds for the church were collected from the community and from England. Capt. John Moberly, R.N. , the local naval commandant was instrumental in obtaining the funds for the church and oversaw its construction. The first rector, Rev. George Hallen served the community for 36 years and helped establish the Anglican faith in the community. St. James on-the-Lines was the only Protestant church in the area until the 1870s.

St. James on-the-Lines Anglican Church is a rare, extant, early wood-frame, Greek Revival church with Gothic Revival elements. The church had a typical Greek Revival entrance, paired square-headed windows and comprised a single room with a wide aisle to accommodate soldiers marching four abreast. However, the Church of England favoured a more Gothic appearance for its churches and after visiting the half constructed garrison church, in 1840, Bishop Strachan instructed that it needed some alteration on the outside to make it look more like an English church. A belfry was added above the doors and the Greek Revival entrance was modified to appear less severe. A chancel, sanctuary and vestry were added at a later date to the original clapboard, frame structure. In the sanctuary of the church behind the altar is an elaborate wood reredos. In the sanctuary there is a large square-headed window with four simple wood mullions encasing stained glass with four small quatrefoils above. The building is wood frame with wood clapboard siding. All trim is wood and includes a wood fascia, frieze projecting verges, and pilasters around the main door. The front doors also have decorative hand-wrought hinges purportedly made by a member of the militia. The bell turret at the peak of the façade's gable roof has Gothic Revival wood decoration such as arches and quatrefoils. The roof is covered in cedar shingles and the foundation is constructed of random rubble. The nave walls have two tall narrow Greek Revival casement windows with two sashes each of four stencilled panes, surrounded by one inch of art-glass. The interior is simply decorated with plaster walls, wainscoting, wide plank flooring and small beams in the sanctuary ceiling decorated with small gold trefoils. The pews are said to have been made by various members of the garrison and are therefore all slightly different from one another, with the front pew ends being more ornately decorated, marking them as officers' pews.

Source: OHT Easement Files.

Character-Defining Elements

Character defining elements that contribute to the historical value of the St. James on-the-Lines Anglican Church include its:
- Greek Revival architecture with Gothic Revival elements
- square-headed windows with simple wood surrounds
- hand-wrought iron hinges on the main doors
- clapboard siding
- bell turret with Gothic Revival details carved in wood at the façade gable peak
- cedar shingle roof
- random rubble foundation
- wood fascia and frieze projecting verges
- wood moulded trim and pilasters around the main door
- Greek Revival windows in the Nave with two sashes each of four stencilled panes surrounded by one inch of art-glass
- reredos in the sanctuary behind the altar
- ceiling beams of the sanctuary decorated with small gold trefoils
- exposed rafters going to a joint beam in the sanctuary
- simple wainscoting
- pews made by various members of the Penetanguishene garrison
- stained glass windows in the square-headed window of the sanctuary
- original 6”-8” plank-flooring
- setting in the north end of Penetanguishene surrounded by gravestones dating to the 1830s
- proximity to many large and mature oak trees
- proximity to the graves of Capt. John Moberley, Col. James Keating and Rev. George Hallen




Recognition Authority

Ontario Heritage Trust

Recognition Statute

Ontario Heritage Act

Recognition Type

Ontario Heritage Foundation Easement

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1840/01/01 to 1840/01/01
1984/01/01 to 1984/01/01
1870/01/01 to 1870/01/01
1957/01/01 to 1957/01/01
1981/01/01 to 1981/01/01
1836/01/01 to 1836/01/01
1836/01/01 to 1872/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Building Social and Community Life
Religious Institutions

Function - Category and Type



Religion, Ritual and Funeral
Religious Facility or Place of Worship

Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Ontario Heritage Trust Property Files Ontario Heritage Trust 10 Adelaide Street East Toronto, Ontario

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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