This Week in History


The Queen Elizabeth Chalice

This story was initially published in 2001

On September 27, 1984, Queen Elizabeth II met Chief Melville Hill and other Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte to commemorate the bicentennial of their settlement in Eastern Ontario. Through the presentation of gifts, the Mohawks and the British Crown renewed a centuries-old alliance.

The Silver Communion Service belonging to<br>the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte

The Silver Communion Service belonging to
the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte

© Designed by Neil Aird

In 1710, a delegation of chiefs from New York's Mohawk Valley travelled to England to confer with Queen Anne about the alliance between the Mohawks and the Crown. During their discussions, the chiefs requested her assistance in building a church in the Mohawk Valley. She agreed, and a small limestone building known as Queen Anne's Chapel was constructed and furnished with gifts from the Queen, including a silver communion service.

Queen Anne's Chapel was a place of worship until the American Revolution began in 1776. Forced to choose between the Crown and the Americans, the Mohawks left for Canada. Some went to the Grand River, near Brantford, while others went to Tyendinaga on the Bay of Quinte, near Kingston. According to tradition, they buried the communion service near the chapel. A party of chiefs later recovered the service and divided it between the Grand River and Tyendinaga settlements.

The Queen Elizabeth II Chalice

The Queen Elizabeth II Chalice
© Photo by Erkan

The Mohawks built a wooden church at Tyendinaga, which was replaced in 1843 by the fine Gothic structure known as Christ Church. It houses relics symbolizing the alliance between the Mohawks and the Crown since the time of Queen Anne. Besides Queen Anne, King George III, Queen Victoria and King George V also presented gifts to the Mohawks for use in their church services. Most recently, Queen Elizabeth II has added a silver chalice for Holy Communion, which was commissioned from a Kingston silversmith, Neil Aird.

At the close of the ceremony on that day in 1984, Chief Melville Hill showed the Queen the communion silver in the possession of the Mohawks of Tyendinaga. It was an historic moment: Queen Anne's descendant and the descendants of the chiefs who met Queen Anne in 1710, renewing their alliance through the gift of silver.

Due to its rich history, Christ Church is a national historic site of Canada. Her Majesty's/St. Paul's Chapel of the Mohawks, located on the Grand River Territory of the Six Nations near Brantford, is also a national historic site of Canada and home to pieces of the Queen Anne communion service belonging to the Six Nations.

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