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St. Paul's Heritage and History

Serving Christ in Hamilton for 184 years.



St. Paul's was established in 1833, originally called St. Andrew's, in connection with the Established Church of Scotland. The first minister was Rev. Alexander Gale who was inducted in 1833.
The congregation first worshipped in the Court House. In 1835 a small frame church was built on James and Jackson and it was twice enlarged. Following the Disruption of 1843 in Scotland, a group including the Rev. Gale, left St. Andrew's and established Knox Presbyterian Church in connection with the Presbyterian Church of Canada (Free Church). In 1855 that large stone church that stands today
was built replacing the frame church. The name St. Paul's was adapted in 1873 following the withdrawal of some members of the congregation who formed a separate congregation with the name of St. Andrew's. This second congregation re-united with St. Paul's in 1876.
In 1925, the congregation voted to remain within the Presbyterian Church in Canada.

St. Paul's Presbyterian Church is a designated National historic site, and has been a key part of the Hamilton community since 1833. We take immense pride in our history and our church buildings, which feature pristine elements of Neo-Gothic and Neo-Classical architecture, including a massive all-oak balcony, a 180-foot all-stone spire, and an 11 bell chime weighing almost 6000 kilograms. 


Stop by St. Paul's to take in the limestone church building, as its buttresses and finials pierce the sky. Walk along perfectly preserved, centuries' old carpeting, learn about the history of churches and presbyterianism in pre-confederation Canada, marvel at our 22 hand-made stained glass windows, listen to the sounds of hundred-year-old chimes ring through downtown Hamilton, and take a trip back in time to a Hamilton of years gone by! 


Tours are offered by appointment or on a drop-in basis and include access to the museum collection and most of the historical building. Larger groups and school classes are also welcome. All tours and heritage concerns are managed and organized by St. Paul's Archivist & Curator, James Sippert. James holds a degree from Queen's University in History, is currently studying religious history at a graduate level at McMaster University, and is an Ontario Certified Teacher. James loves to help others explore and learn about the history of St. Paul's, and would be happy to share his knowledge of the church and its history with you.

To contact St. Paul's Heritage for inquiries, research questions, tour arrangements, or to visit our artefact collection, please email

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William Thomas, recognized as one of the founders of the Canadian architectural profession, was the architect of our English Gothic revival building, erected over four years between 1854 and 1857. The building’s grey stone mostly came from Hamilton quarries. The tower rises dramatically to a height of 100 feet to the top of the parapet line, where it almost imperceptibly reduces itself into an octagonal spire. The total height of tower and spire is 180 feet, and it is believed to be the highest of its kind, entirely stone, in Canada.

The many beautiful stained glass windows of St. Paul’s depict the stories of the Bible, with the  Lord’s Supper featured in the window at the front of the church.


Bells and Cross of Sacrifice

The Bells of St. Paul’s were installed at a cost of $4,000 and were used first on Sunday, November 11, 1906. Eleven bells make up the chimes, the largest one weighing 2100 pounds (955 k) and the smallest one 300 pounds (136 k). The total weight is 9873 pounds (4488 k). The bells are played every Sunday morning to this day, calling worshipers to church and on other special occasions.

The Cross of Sacrifice, erected in 1921, commemorate the fallen men and women of the congregation. The large Celtic Cross is counted one of the most beautiful war memorials in the country.  It was carved in Scotland, and is similar to the ancient crosses in Iona where Christianity was first brought to Scotland from Ireland by St. Columba. The arms of the Cross are truncated, and the column tapers from its base to the apex. A circle symbolical of a crown or wreath surrounds the arms. In Scotland and Ireland some of these ancient crosses still remain. A Service of Remembrance is held at the cross each year on the Sunday closest to Remembrance Day.

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