Description of Historic Place
Ontario's oldest still standing Methodist church, the Beaverdams Methodist Church and Burying Ground, is located on Marlatts Road on a picturesque site facing the pond extensions of Gibson Lake. Built in 1832, the two-storey New England Meeting House style church features a white clapboard exterior, and two entrances at the front (north) side of the building. Included in the designation is a burying ground to the south and west of the church, and the property is designated for its heritage value by the City of Thorold under By-law 1811(94).
The Beaverdams Methodist Church is a cherished historical landmark in Thorold due to its status as the oldest Methodist church still standing in Ontario and the oldest to have remained in continuous use. The property is also significant for its location in Beaverdams, the oldest and primary settlement in Thorold Township, a community that had the first township post office and other amenities. The site was transferred from Hiram Swayze to the trustees of Beaverdams Methodist Episcopal Church from in 1832, and construction on the church is believed to have taken place later in the same year. The church is valued as the site of the first 'free school' in Canada (1847), organized by the Father of Education in Ontario, Reverend Egerton Ryerson.
The burying ground, located south and west of the church, contributes to the historical significance of the site, with the first recorded burial being for Daniel Totten. Other locally notable people buried here include Hiram Swayze, Obadiah Hopkins, and Isaac Kelly, the first white child born in Thorold Township.
The church's architecture takes on elements of New England Meeting House styling, with its minimalistic rectangular shape and white clapboard exterior. Two matching entrances set relatively close together are located at the north side of the church, with simple but handsome pilastered doorcases with entablatures and cornice above. Upper windows are aligned with the entrance and some of the original clapboard survives on the front.
The property is located down the road from another related heritage property, the Beaverdams Burying Ground, where several other notable citizens of Thorold Township are buried. The location of the church is also significant due to its situation in the Beaverdams community, where the Battle of Beaverdams took place on June 24, 1813, during the War of 1812.
Sources: City of Thorold By-law No. 1811(94) Statement of Reasons for Designation; 'Report re. Beaverdams' by Peter John Stokes, Consulting Restoration Architect, 1994
Character defining elements that reflect the historical value of the Beaverdams Methodist Church include:
-status as Ontario's oldest Methodist church still standing and the oldest to have remained in continuous use
-historic function as the site of the first 'free school' in Canada (1847) and its association with its organizer, Rev. Egerton Ryerson
-burying ground located to the south and west of the church
-association with several notable citizens of Thorold Township, including Daniel Totten (first known burial), Hiram Swayze, Obadiah Hopkins, and Isaac Kelly
Character defining elements that reflect the architectural value of the Church include:
-New England Meeting House style architecture
-some of the original clapboard exterior still surviving at its front
-matching entrances with simple pilastered doorcases with entablatures and cornice above
Character defining elements that reflect the contextual value of the property include:
-proximity to another designated burying ground, the Beaverdams Burying Ground
-location in historic Beaverdams, the site of the Battle of Beaverdams (June 24, 1813) during the War of 1812