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Church of the Ascension

64, Forest Ave., Hamilton, Ontario, L8N, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1993/12/17

View of the tower and spire of the Church of the Ascension – 2006; OHT, 2006
View of the Northeast Elevation of Church -2006
Southeast view of the Sunday school buildings – 2006; OHT, 2006
View of the Sunday schools – 2006
The north elevation of the Sunday school showing the covered walkway – 2006; OHT, 2006
View of the 1901 Sunday school – 2006

Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1850/01/01 to 1851/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2007/11/01

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The property at 64 Forest Avenue, known as the Church of the Ascension, is situated at the intersection of John Street and Forest Avenue in the City of Hamilton. The stone building was designed in the Gothic Revival style by the architectural firm of Cumberland and Ridout, and was constructed in 1850-51. The property also includes two Sunday school buildings.

The exterior of the buildings and the scenic character of the property are protected by an Ontario Heritage Trust conservation easement. The property is also designated by the City of Hamilton under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act (By-law No. 88-66).

Heritage Value

Located at Forest Avenue and John Street, the Church of the Ascension is a prominent landmark in the south-central part of Hamilton and is sited a few blocks from the MacNab-Charles Heritage Conservation District. The church is located in a neighbourhood dominated by 19th century buildings and is bordered by a stone wall along John Street and Charlton Avenue. Additionally, stone steps set into the embankment lead to the north, Forest Avenue, entrance. The south door opens into a yard that separates the church from the school buildings. The resulting placement of the buildings and the courtyard give the property a cloistered appearance.

The Church of the Ascension is significant for its association with the architectural firm of Cumberland and Ridout. During their partnership, Frederick Cumberland (1820-1881) and Thomas Ridout (1828-1905) designed many significant Toronto buildings such as St. James Cathedral (1850-52), the York County Court House (1851) and Toronto's seventh Post office (1851). The Church of the Ascension was the second Anglican church built in Hamilton. Richard Juson, a successful Hamilton merchant donated the land for the church, was the largest financial contributor to its construction, and was also one of its first wardens. The cornerstone was laid on Ascension Day, May 9, 1850 and the church opened for services on June 22, 1851. The first sermon was preached by the Rt. Rev. John Strachan. The spire and bells were added in the 1860s. In 1887, the interior of the church was destroyed by fire and the subsequent renovations included the addition of a new chancel.

The Church of the Ascension is significant as one of Hamilton's best examples of a mid-19th-century Gothic Revival church. The composition of the Gothic Revival buildings on the property is significant as an excellent example of high Victorian design. The integrated campus possesses well-balanced and picturesque massing that utilizes the limited space and corner site with remarkable success. The church's Gothic details including carved stone, pointed-arch doors and windows with trefoil tracery, vertical emphasis on the tall spire, heavy buttresses and dominant pinnacles. The gable-end pinnacles were added in 1870. The position of the tower, at the corner of the main facade, is unusual, though typical of a later, more sophisticated expression of High Victorian Gothic Revival style. The three visible sides of the tower have lancet vents in the top half, a lancet window at the bottom and a cinquefoil window in the middle. The north transept entrance features lancet windows on either side of the pointed-arch door, with a rose window above.

There are two Sunday school buildings on the property, each designed by Hamilton architects. Frederick Rastrick designed the first Sunday school in 1872 and the 1901 school was designed by Charles Mills. The 1872 Sunday school is connected to the church by a covered walk way. The Sunday schools are clad with random rubble brought to courses. The east facade has pointed-arch windows on the second storey and double-hung wood windows on the first storey. The decorative wood spandrel between the upper and lower windows on the gable end of the east facade is a prominent feature. The northeast side of the Sunday school has a rotunda connecting the 1872 and 1901 Sunday school buildings.

Sources: OHT Easement Files; Farmer, Mary Harrington. Church of the Ascension Hamilton: A Short History 1850-1950. Kidner Printing Co.: Hamilton, 1950.

Character-Defining Elements

Character defining elements that contribute to the heritage value of the Church of the Ascension include its:
- association with the architectural firm of Cumberland and Ridout
- history as the second Anglican church in Hamilton
- association with prominent local merchant Richard Juson
- Gothic Revival style
- carved stone decoration
- pointed-arch doors
- windows with trefoil tracery
- lancet windows
- rose windows
- tall metal-clad spire
- off-centre placement of the tower
- lancet vents in the tower
- cinquefoil windows in the tower
- covered walkway connecting it to the church
- random-rubble cladding
- quatrefoil vents
- bracketed eaves
- pointed-arch windows
- double-hung windows
- decorative wood spandrel
- rotunda
- importance as a prominent local landmark
- location in a Heritage Conservation District dominated by 19th century buildings
- stone wall along John Street and Charlton Avenue
- stone steps in the embankment at the north side of the property
- cloistered appearance of the property




Recognition Authority

Ontario Heritage Trust

Recognition Statute

Ontario Heritage Act

Recognition Type

Ontario Heritage Foundation Easement

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1851/01/01 to 1851/01/01
1862/01/01 to 1862/01/01
1870/01/01 to 1870/01/01
1872/01/01 to 1872/01/01
1887/01/01 to 1888/01/01
1901/01/01 to 1901/01/01
1988/01/01 to 1988/01/01
1993/01/01 to 1993/01/01
1850/01/01 to 1850/01/01
1887/01/01 to 1887/01/01

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

Cumberland and Ridout



Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Conservation Easement Files Ontario Heritage Trust 10 Adelaide Street East Toronto, Ontario

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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