Grace Anglican Church
Tour of our Church
Our tour begins in what we refer to as the Upper Hall, but in reality this was the first Grace Church on this property. The land on which Grace Church was built was donated by Joseph Martin, the second son of Jasper and Sarah Martin, the founders of the town of Milton. The land was donated around 1850, and the building of the first white wooden frame church with clapboard siding and plank seating was started in 1851 and finished in 1852 at a cost of 500 pounds (approximately $2000 in today’s funds). The original church had a steeple and gothic shaped windows and was a one story building which initially sat at the front of the property with the front door facing towards Millside Drive (which didn’t exist then) and the altar, which was at the back of the church, faced eastward (as all Anglican Church altars do).
In the latter part of March 1895, before construction of the new stone church was started, this old church was dragged to the back of the property where it now sits by teams of horses and was turned 90 degrees so that the front door now faced Main Street. During the moving, some damage was done to the building. A short note appeared in the Canadian Champion published April 4, 1895 describing the incident. “Last Saturday as the workmen were moving the Grace Church a large section of the ceiling including laths and timbers fell down. The lectern or pulpit was beneath them and was badly damaged. There were three little girls in the building at the time but fortunately they escaped injury though they were badly frightened”. In the same newspaper, another note was printed. “When the old Grace church was removed from its foundation last week, the remains of eight cats were found there. They are supposed to have been starved, having been unable to subsist on the proverbially poor church mice”.
After this, the building sat mostly unchanged until 1954 when the church was in desperate need of more Sunday School space. A project was initiated at that time and this old church structure was lifted up on huge square wooden beams and the men of the parish literally hand-dug a large area underneath for the construction of a cement block basement. We now refer to this area as the lower hall and it includes a large, fairly modern kitchen.
As you may have noticed as you came into the church via the parking lot or Narthex door, there is a large area of solar panels on the Parish Hall roof. The solar panels were installed in 2013 and the initial loan of $40,000 to fund this project was paid off in 2018. The church is now making a good monthly profit from the electricity being generated. Before the project could be started, an Engineer’s report of the roof structure was mandatory and it was found that the original 1852 roof construction, including the repairs done in 1895, was still in excellent condition and was more than adequate to support the extra weight of the Solar Panels. The solar panel agreement is government sponsored and we are to be paid for the electricity that is generated for a total of 20 years.
It should be noted that the only original area of the first Grace Church that is still visible is the tongue-and-grove ceiling in the upper hall.
Now we will head back down stairs to the Narthex (Narthex – any church entrance hall leading to a Nave).
Again, due to the need for more office and meeting room space, the original old frame church, now our parish hall, and the new stone church were joined together by a link building in a renovation project started in December 1978 at a cost of $55,000. The old church steeple and the front steps of the old church were removed to make way for the new building which includes three offices, a large hallway and greeting area, three washrooms, one that is wheelchair accessible on the ground level, a meeting room and a nursery. The entrance to the new link building includes a ramp for ease of entry to the church, something that was not yet mandatory in the late 1970’s. In order to make way for a new door from the Narthex into the church, it was necessary to remove part of the stone work of the church which included one set of three windows situated between two buttresses of the church. However, the ramp in the Narthex is no longer up to code and major accessibility changes are needed in the next few years to bring this area up to acceptable government standards.
Now we will make our way into the Church.
Our beautiful new stone church, the second to occupy this site, was built in 1895, and it was constructed of blocks of limestone cut from a local quarry on the Niagara Escarpment close to Milton. Architecturally, the church is of the English Gothic style, with a Norman tower rather than a steeple, giving it a somewhat castle-like or medieval appearance. The peak of the building and the tower are forty feet or four stories high. One of the striking features of the exterior is the many buttresses which add visual interest and are fully supporting structures to hold up the weight of the very heavy slate roof.
The new stone church cost approximately $6000 to build. The plans and specifications for the new church were prepared by Mr. Charles Gibson, a very precise Architect from Toronto, who oversaw the construction of the church and demanded only the best quality materials, free of all knots, sap and kiln dried, and the workmanship of the best character, square and plumb. The Coleman Lumber and Coal Company of Burlington was chosen as the contractor and supplied the superior quality wood and building materials demanded by Mr. Gibson. The $6000 cost included the pews, a new furnace, and all the plain diamond patterned side windows. It took the congregation until 1917 to pay off the cost of building the new church.
The cornerstone of the church, a large block of freestone, was laid on June 4, 1895 in an elaborate ceremony by the Earl of Aberdeen, then Governor-General of Canada and his wife, Lady Aberdeen. As the story goes, the head stonemason, a local man, John Peacock, handed the trowel with the mortar on it to the Governor-General and he laid the stone. A day long celebration which included 3000-4000 spectators, every dignitary in town and many bishops and clergy was held on the site of the old Gordon Home, one block east of the church. The large cornerstone was presented to the congregation by Joseph Bate, and the inscription on the cornerstone was cut by Charles Hughes of Toronto, formerly of Milton, who came back to town and donated his work.
The building of the church was completed in 5 months by the skilled carpenters and stonemasons and a lot of volunteer labour supplied by the men of the parish. One of the biggest problems in construction was lifting the very large heavy stones up the great height of the tower. The problem was solved by a local Milton resident and teamster, Jacob Johnson. A teamster in those days meant a man who owned and worked a team of horses. Jacob’s team consisted of two very strong Clydesdales (draft horses). With Jacob’s mechanical ability and knowledge, he was able to rig up a strong pulley and with the strength of his two horses, had no problem hoisting heavy stones up, row by row, to the top of the tower for workmen to cement into place. Jacob Johnson’s daughter and her husband, Joan and Ray Waters, are long-time active members of Grace Church. In early October of 1895, Rev. Peter T. Mignot, the current minister of Grace Church who had worked so hard to raise enough funds to build the new church, laid the last stone on top of the tower and signed it. The new stone church was opened and dedicated for divine service on November 12, 1895 by the Right Rev. Charles Hamilton, Lord Bishop of Niagara.
The Windows over the Altar: The Saints windows: in the centre is Jesus, the Good Shepherd with St. Peter to whom was given the keys of the Kingdom; on the left are St. Mark and St. John; on the right is St. Luke (these 3 are writers of the Gospels); Lastly St. Cecilia, the patron Saint of Church music.
The beautiful large stained glass windows at the front and back of the church were installed in October 1895 just before the church construction was finished. The windows were designed and made by the N.T. Lyon Company of Toronto. N.T. Lyon was a student being mentored by Robert McCausland at the time, so Robert McCausland had a hand in designing these windows. The three large east windows behind the Altar are referred to as the Saints windows and were donated in memory of loved ones by two prominent Milton families. William Panton Jr., who was clerk of the County and editor of the Canadian Champion newspaper donated the left hand window in memory of his father, William Panton Sr., who was also Clerk of the County and the founder of the village of Kilbride, Ontario. The right hand window is in memory of Dr. Clarkson Freeman, who was a town doctor for over 40 years, and a former mayor of Milton who brought many needed improvements to the town of Milton: for example, early railroad service, running water from the escarpment and many agricultural improvements, including Milton Fair. The middle window is not a memorial window but has a Latin inscription “AD MAJORAM DEI GLORIAM’, that when translated means “TO THE GREATER GLORY OF GOD”.
The large set of three west windows at the back of the church are in memory of a 21year old medical student who died of Diphtheria acquired from a patient while in his third year of medical school at U. of T. The windows were donated by his father and mother, Arthur George and Jane Stevens Heaven. Arthur George Heaven also provided a much needed loan ($2700) by taking out a mortgage on the new church building so that construction could be completed. Grace Church was not able to pay back this loan in full to the Heaven family until 1917, long after both Arthur and Jane Heaven had passed away.
The stained glass windows along the sides of the church (best viewed from the centre aisle) are positioned so that they tell the story of the life of Christ, starting at the back of the church, just inside the front door. These are all memorial windows donated by parishioners in memory of loved ones. The first of the side windows was donated in December 1902 and the last two were donated in January 2018.
Windows 1, 2 & 3:
1. The Annunciation, when the angel visits Mary to tell her she will be the Christ child’s mother;
2. The Nativity;
3. The presentation of Jesus to Simeon in the temple.
Windows 4, 5 & 6:
4. Christ’s ministry begins after He is baptized in the River Jordan by John the Baptist;
5. & 6. His ministries include both teaching and healing.
7. The large set of three west windows at the back of the church are in memory of a 21-year-old medical student who died of Diphtheria acquired from a patient while in his third year of medical school at U. of T. The windows were donated by his father and mother, Arthur George and Jane Stevens Heaven. Arthur George Heaven also provided a much-needed loan ($2700) by taking out a mortgage on the new church building so that construction could be completed. Grace Church was not able to pay back this loan in full to the Heaven family until 1917, long after both Arthur and Jane Heaven had passed away.
8. (Sacristy): Jesus is blessing the children.
Windows 9, 10 & 11:
9. The Passion story: Jesus praying in the garden of Gethsemane before being arrested
10. Good Friday – Carrying the cross to His death;
11. His resurrection on Easter morning;
Windows 12, 13 & 14:
12. His appearance to Mary Magdalen on Easter morning;
13. Supper at Emmaus with two of his disciples:
14. The Ascension of Jesus, one of two new windows installed in 2018. This beautiful window is in memory of Fr. Christopher Snow, our priest-in-charge at Grace from 2009 – 2016 and is the only one of our stained glass windows that has a personal design;
Windows 15, 16 & 17:
15. The Pentecost window – after his ascension, Jesus sent us the Holy Spirit.
16. The second window – we await Jesus’ return as King of all Kings. This window was donated and installed in 1967 and is a modern type of stained glass called Faceted Glass and was made by a company in Kitchener.
17. The last window – also installed in 2018, Jesus stands at the door and knocks (Revelations).
In year 2000, Grace Church underwent a massive restoration project during which all the side windows of the church were removed, cleaned and releaded before being re-installed. The centre of the middle back window had been damaged in Hurricane Hazel in 1954, when Jesus’ yellow robe area was blown in; and in another storm in 1959, the whole figure of Jesus was damaged. Also the blue glass around the edges was not able to be matched completely so a slightly different colour of blue was used. An outside layer of tempered glass now protects these windows from further storm damage or vandalism. In 2007, all three large back windows were removed, the above repairs made, and they were cleaned and releaded at a cost of $30,000. The Saints windows at the front of the church were removed, cleaned and releaded in 2009, at a cost of $35,000, and are also now protected externally by a layer of tempered glass.
In the early nineties, it became obvious that the condition of the stone building was deteriorating and it was also necessary to bring the building up to the current electrical, building, fire and safety standards. We began with a thorough engineering study which found us to be in a sad state. The most serious of the problems was the decaying stone work, with the mortar between the joints disintegrating. The roof was leaking in a lot of places and damaging the interior walls, complete re-wiring of the church was needed, lighting needed to be upgraded, a fire alarm system needed to be installed, the interior needed painting, carpets needed to be replaced and a new furnace was needed. Engineering reports showed that the foundation was solid, but a lot of other work had to be done. We were told that we were approximately 5 years away from having the building condemned.
So the church embarked on a massive fund raising effort called “The Glorifying Grace Project” and approximately $700,000 was raised over about 10 years. Three new furnaces were installed in 1991 and for the first time ever, we had air conditioning! In 1999, a new Newfoundland slate roof was installed. The original Pennsylvania slate roof had lasted 104 years. New sheeting and 4 inches of Styrofoam insulation were followed by new slate tiles with copper flashing and eaves. The new slate roof is supposed to last another 100 years and cost $125,000. During the mid 1990’s, re-pointing of the exterior stone work was started and completed around year 2000, also at a cost of around $125,000.
Other work completed during restoration included: complete re-wiring of the church, upgrading of all lighting systems, installation of a fire alarm system, re-finishing of the original pews and wainscoting, repairing the plaster walls and
complete painting, with accents, of the entire church interior, installation of a new sub-floor, all new carpeting, replacement of the sound system and replacement of the church organ.
This church was built with a 40 foot high or 4 story Norman tower instead of a steeple, giving it a castle-like appearance. The tower houses both a sound system for playing taped music and a carillon which at one time could be manually played. The carillon bells are a tubular shape and hang in a frame on the third floor. They are played by pushing down the levers on the console which is on the second floor of the tower. The lever pulls the rope which strikes a hammer against the bell. The carillon came to Grace Church in 1925 as a gift from St. George’s Anglican Church in Guelph who chose to have a set of regular bells. The bells are currently in need of repair and cannot be played.
The Maltese or Canterbury cross etched in the glass entrance doors reminds us of our ties with England. It also appears near the top of the first of the large back stained glass windows.
Music has always been an important part of worship at Grace Church and we’ve had several organs making the music over the years, starting with the non-electric pump organs that required both the hands to play and the feet to pump the necessary air to make the sound. Five or six organs later we now have a modern electronic organ installed during Restoration in year 2000 at a cost of $38,000. Our organist at the time, the late Bob Argall, wanted one that was easy and fun to play, had a wonderful sound and was within the budget. He did a lot of research and travelled to several different churches to listen to the sound of many types of organs. He finally chose a new digital electronic organ built by the Makin Organ Company of Oldham, England. This new organ could reproduce the digitally recorded sounds of a European pipe organ and is, to the untrained ear, impossible to distinguish from the source organ. It also, by the flick of a switch, plays dozens of different sounds, such as bells, flutes, trumpets and voices.
The organ loft is located in an attic above the counting room ceiling and behind the artificial pipes on the pulpit side of the chancel. The large old pipes of the previous organ are no longer functional and are not connected to this organ but are retained for their cosmetic effect. The organ loft now houses the speakers for the new organ. In August of year 2000, a few days before the new organ was to be installed, Bob climbed up into the organ loft to clean out the area in preparation for the installation of the new speakers. As he cleared away the dust and cobwebs with his broom, he noticed some writing in pencil on the wall. It read:
I predict this organ shall be removed in August the year 2000 some years after my death—
J. C. Hallman, September 27, 1967.
How’s that for a prophecy?
As we stand in the centre aisle, the striking features of the interior architecture are quite evident. The large dominant arch outlining the chancel and altar stands out as do the large precision-built hammer beams. The beams were built of knotless pine and cedar and expertly carved by skilled carpenters who had no access to the modern tools of today.
Altar and Reredos
In 1943, the beautiful oak Altar and Reredos were presented to the church in memory of the late Mr. and Mrs. Charles W. Martin by their nine children who were the great-grandchildren of Milton’s founding family, Jasper and Sarah Martin. The Altar and Reredos were given as a gift to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the founding of Grace Church (1844-1944) and were dedicated on November 14th, 1943 by Bishop Broughall, Bishop of Niagara. The Altar and Reredos were built by the Globe Furniture Company of Waterloo, Ontario that made Church furnishings from 1910-1968 (when it went bankrupt). The Altar originally was attached to the Reredos, so the priests conducting the service always had their backs to the congregation. This was certainly not an ideal situation and it was sometime in 1967, under the urging of Dr. Tom Dustan, priest from 1964-68, that the Altar was moved forward, so the priest could stand behind it and face the congregation while reading from the Altar prayer book.
Altar Rail Cushions
If you look down in front of the Altar Rail you will see that the Altar Rail Kneeler Cushions depict, in the art of needlepoint, the ongoing history of the Parish of Grace Church, Milton. The needlepoint was done by eight parishioners, 7 women and 1 man, and finished in 1983. They were dedicated by Bishop Clarence Mitchell on November 6, 1983. The patterns were developed with the help of a Don Mills artist, G. Broughton Smith in consultation with Joan Phillips of the Silver Thimble craft shop in Oakville.
Cushion 1: The original settlers of this area, the Mississauga Indians, used the 16 Mile Creek as a means of transportation. In the background is the Niagara Escarpment with animals and plants native to this area along the waterway.
Cushion 2: As early as 1844, missionaries travelled by horseback in order that they may hold prayer meetings wherever possible. Stagecoaches were used for travel as well as for mail delivery. The area was agriculturally based with farmers breaking the land with a single horse and plough. Native birds are depicted.
Cushion 3: The millpond is manmade having been dug out by Jasper Martin. It was both a source of power to operate the mill and for pleasure. In 1822 a grist mill was built which became the centre of town. The band shell in Victoria Park was a place of entertainment in the early days of Milton and the re-built structure still exists today. Wild flowers common to this area enhance this cushion.
Cushion 4: In the centre is the crest for the Diocese of Niagara. On the left is the original church building and on the right is our current building. More wild flowers are depicted.
Cushion 5: God’s presence is depicted here in the open Bible and in two of the church’s sacraments – the font representing Baptism by which we are made members of Christ’s flock and the chalice, along with the wheat and grapes, representing Holy Communion or the Eucharist.
Cushion 6: The four seasons are represented along with current activities available in the Milton area. In the Spring we can gather maple syrup at Mountsberg Wildlife Centre, in the Summer can sail on Kelso Lake, in the Fall, hiking is popular on the Bruce Trail and in the Winter, cross-country skiing is available in many areas, including Hilton Falls. Flowers appropriate to the seasons are also depicted.
Cushion 7: Although Milton has become an urban area, we still have a large agricultural area. Country Heritage Park helps to preserve this heritage. In the background, at the base of the Niagara Escarpment, is the GO Train which has been partially responsible for the growth of our Town. In keeping with the agricultural theme, fruits are depicted. Also depicted is the coats of arms for the Town of Milton and the Anglican Church of Canada.
If you look up from the Altar Rail area, you will see 4 shields on the ends of the chancel area hammer beams. There shields were added during the Restoration of the Church and from left to right, depict the Coats-of Arms of:
– The Anglican Church of Canada
– The Diocese of Niagara
– The Parish of Grace Church
– The Town of Milton
From here we will proceed to the right and through the narrow doorway into the Sacristy of the Church. This area was originally built as two rooms, one as an office and the other for choir and clergy robing and the preparation of communion vessels. During the mid 1970’s, the Rector’s office was located in the room to the north of the Chancel currently used as a counting room by the Sidespersons. The Church Secretary also used this room as an office at one point. In 1980, the two offices were moved again to the Narthex after construction of the link building was finished and the wall of the Sacristy was removed, making one larger room. This room is now used by the Altar Guild for storing and setting up communion vessels and for flower arranging.
The beautiful large stained glass window of Jesus blessing the Children is visible here. Lights are kept on at night in this room to illuminate the window so it can be seen from Main Street. It is in memory of a long time former parishioner, Lorne Middleton, who left a large sum of money to the church in his will to help with its continuing work. The window was installed in the Sacristy as his niece, Cathy Goulding is a long time dedicated Altar Guild member, as was his mother.
This ends our tour. We welcome any questions. We hope you enjoyed the beautiful interior of our church and the story of our history.