History of the Unitarian Church of Montreal

The Unitarian Church of Montreal

Unitarianism is a liberal religion with Jewish and Christian roots. Our theological origins date back to the early days of Christianity, while our institutional roots are in the religious reform movements of Eastern Europe during the 16th and 17th centuries, and of Britain and the United States during the early 18th century.

In Canada, Unitarians hailing from England, Ireland and New England held their first formal meeting in Montreal in 1828. They wanted a church of their own where they could share a faith without walls or creeds. In 1832, their first minister, the Reverend David Hughes, arrived from England, and conducted the first Unitarian service in Canada on July 29. Within a month, he and many Montreal Unitarians died in a cholera epidemic.

First Meeting House: Fortification Lane, Old Montreal, 1842-1844

In 1842, the Unitarian Church of Montreal was formally constituted. In the following year, John Cordner came from Ireland as the congregation's first settled minister, and stayed for 36 years.

 

Beaver Hall Hill, 1860-1907

 

In 1844, the congregation moved into its own new Grecian style building, located on the northeast corner of Beaver Hall Hill and La Gauchetière. This was replaced in 1857 by a building with a steeple on the same site, which was home to the congregation until 1905.

 

Simpson Street Church 1900-1987

 

 

The congregation moved into its third new home, a beautiful Tudor Gothic church in downtown Montreal, in 1907. Eighty years later, the sanctuary was destroyed by fire. The congregation with its minister, the Rev. Charles Eddis, worked tirelessly to replace it, and the present church at the corner of de Maisonneuve and Claremont streets was dedicated on September 29, 1996.

Thanks to the work of those dedicated individuals, past and present, we are alive and growing in the new millennium.

Heritage Library

Search the Library

The Unitarian Church of Montreal Heritage Library is a non-circulating, reference library of religion, the majority of which is about Unitarianism and Universalism, particularly in Canada.

You can search the Heritage Library here on the web, by author, title, or subject. Go to the Catalogue Library Search. (Note: This will open a new window for the Heritage Library.)

History of the Heritage Library

The library’s holding came primarily through gifts from the personal collections of Rev. Angus Cameron, Rev. Charles Eddis, and Rev. M. Ray Drennan. Additional materials from Rev. Leonard Mason and Rev. John Cordner were found among the books remaining in the minister’s office after the Simpson Street fire. Other materials have been purchased.

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