Her Majesty's / St. Paul's Chapel of the Mohawks National Historic Site of Canada
© Her Majesty's Royal Chapel of the Mohawks' Archives | Archives de Her Majesty's Royal Chapel of the Mohawks
301 Mohawk Street, Brantford, Ontario
Historic Sites and Monuments Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. H-4)
1785 to 1785
1829 to 1829
1869 to 1869
1904 to 1904
Event, Person, Organization:
Her Majesty's / St. Paul's Chapel of the Mohawks
Her Majesty's Royal Chapel of the Mohawks
Her Majesty's Chapel of the Mohawks
St. Paul's Chapel of the Mohawks
Research Report Number:
Existing plaque: 301 Mohawk Street, Brantford, Ontario
Originally called St. Paul's, this chapel was the first Protestant church in Upper Canada and is now the oldest surviving church in Ontario. Built by the Crown in 1785, it was given to those Mohawk Indians led by Joseph Brant who had supported the British during the American Revolution. Their choice cost them their lands in New York. To compensate for the loss the Mohawks were granted 760,000 acres on the Grand River complete with two mills, a school and chapel. Although the church has undergone many alterations, it stands as a reminder of the important role played by the Loyalist Mohawks in the early settlement of Ontario.
Description of Historic Place
Her Majesty’s / St. Paul’s Chapel of the Mohawks National Historic Site of Canada is a picturesque white-frame church located in a treed churchyard on the banks of the Grand River. Recognized as the oldest surviving church in Ontario, it serves the Mohawk community that relocated to the area after loyally supporting the British during the American Revolution. Official recognition refers to the church on its footprint as of 1981.
Her Majesty’s / St. Paul’s Chapel of the Mohawks was designated a National Historic Site of Canada because: it was the first Protestant church in Upper Canada and is now the oldest surviving Church in Ontario; it stands as a reminder of the important role played by the Loyalist Mohawks in the early settlement of Ontario.
The heritage value of Her Majesty’s / St. Paul’s Chapel of the Mohawks resides in the witness it bears to the depth and strength of the British-Mohawk alliance and to an early period of Canadian history. The primary value of the church lies in its presence, its form and its structural composition. Value also exists in its design, decor, materials, function, site and setting.
The chapel was built by the British Crown in 1785 as a gift to the Mohawk First Nation who, under Joseph Brant, supported the British during the American Revolution. Her Majesty’s / St. Paul’s Chapel of the Mohawks was built by Loyalists John Thomas and John Smith who also came from New York. It has been in continuous use since its construction, and as a result has experienced many improvements and alterations. Most important among them was a ninety-degree re-orientation of the interior axis to align with the gable in 1829, and an 1869 reworking of the original Georgian design to reflect Victorian architectural values. Her Majesty’s / St. Paul’s Chapel of the Mohawks was declared a Royal Chapel in 1904.
Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, February 2004; November 1981; November 1982.
Key elements contributing to the heritage value of this site include: its location on the banks of the Grand River in Brantford, Ontario; its siting on the 760,000 acre reserve that the Mohawk received in acknowledgment for their military role during the American Revolution; its pastoral setting in a pasture surrounded by grass and trees within an iron fence; the simple rectangular massing under a steeply pitched roof; the tower and steeple rising from a front entry porch; its mid 19th-century Gothic Revival features including its pointed arched windows and ornate mouldings at the main entrance; its wooden construction materials, notably squared logs faced with hand sawn planks; its solid wall, stacked squared log construction technology; the integrity of its early (primarily mid 19th-century) decor including the tongue-and-groove plank walls, patterned woodwork on the ceiling, decorative window and interior mouldings; the integrity of its early furnishings, both moveable and immoveable, notably its original pews, its 1712 Bible, its mid 19th-century altar and communion rail; elements that reflect its early combination of political and religious devotion including the Queen Anne plate, the original bell, the altar tablets, the coat of arms and painting above the altar, the eight commemorative stained glass windows by artist David Mitson; the chapel’s continuous function as a place of worship for the Mohawk Nation; any surviving evidence of its original lateral “meeting house” layout; the integrity and legibility of its longstanding post 1829 interior layout, notably the existence of a narthex and sacristy, and organization of pews along either side of a central aisle facing the chancel; the integrity of interior spatial volumes; the integrity of longstanding patterns of circulation and access; viewscapes from the site to the plaque honouring Pauline Johnson, the tree planted by the Prince of Wales in 1919 and the graves of Captain Joseph Brant, his wife and their son Chief John Brant in the church yard.