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Knox’s History

Knox Presbyterian Church Milton recognizes that St. Andrew’s Milton, Boston Presbyterian Church, and Knox Presbyterian Church Milton are constructed on the traditional territory of the Mississagua Nation, purchased by the Ajetance Purchase (Treaty 19) in 1818.

Courtesy of Milton Historical Society

The first church to be built (approximately 1846-48) in Milton was St. Andrew’s, known as “The Old Kirk” (Church of Scotland). It was located on the south side of Main Street in a grove of trees at approximately 54/62 Main Street. It was a frame building with a small spire. This church continued until about 1889 when members joined with Knox. The building was then used as a meeting place for Knox Church groups. The building was later sold and moved to 146 Mill Street in 1904.

For many years, Presbyterians in Milton travelled for Sunday worship services to the Boston Free Presbyterian Church in Esquesing Township, Halton County. However, by 1855 the Milton members felt it was time to have their own congregation in town. On July 24, 1855, Milton was recognized as a Gospel station. Initially it was referred to as “Knox’s” or the Free Church but by 1866, it took the name of Knox Presbyterian Church. In January 1856, a building committee was appointed with construction moving forward that summer. Many members volunteered their labour to help with the construction.

Courtesy of Shirley Dills
In the beginning, the congregation met for worship in Mr. Laidlaw’s frame store, 111 Main Street (now a parking lot), and at the County Court House (now Milton’s Town Hall).Our first church, which was solid stone, opened on Sunday February 15, 1857 on land donated by John Martin – 103 Martin Street. Rev. James Mitchell was ordained to look after the congregations of Boston and Knox. The two churches shared four ministers as a two-point charge until Knox and Boston separated on October 9, 1887.The Rev. Robert Haddow became the first Minister after Knox becoming a self-sustaining church.
In 1889, there was a movement to consider building a new church for the growing congregation. Eventually the church leadership settled on the present location at 170 Main Street, which included the adjacent house that served as the Manse. In 1924, the house was sold to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows Lodge #92.

Courtesy of John Duignan

In the fall of 1890 construction was begun with local builder John Hunter having been hired. The committee appointed William Stewart of Hamilton to develop the architectural plans. A few changes to the plans included using slate for the roof and increasing the height of the spire. Over the winter, work was halted and begun again in the spring of 1891. Hon. J. M. Gibson, Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Canada, laid the corner stone on September 18, 1890. This trowel is now located in the Narthex area of the church. By May 1891, plans were developed for the Inaugural Service and Dedication on Sunday June 28th.

Three years later the congregation had hired Sydney Young to build the adjoining Sunday school structure at the rear of the Church off Mary Street. Several changes have been made to this structure since 1894 to accommodate the needs of the congregation.

Construction in 1890 showing a number of workers and interested residents watching. In the background is the Knox Manse purchased from Mr. Eager who had built the home in 1877.

Knox is extremely proud of our strong spiritual heritage and our historic building, which we preserve and recognize regarding our past, present and future. To that end, many of our records are stored in the Archives at Knox College, University of Toronto. There are also many artifacts which are proudly displayed within our church sanctuary.

Heritage Memorials

There are a number of beautiful memorials and designated gifts, which have been offered to the Glory of God and service of the congregation through years of Christian witness. Please find a few examples of these memorials below.

Stained Glass Windows

Our stained glass windows on the east side add such a peaceful element to our sanctuary for all those who take the time to immerse themselves in the Bible stories.

1. Ptolemy Window

Matthew 4:20 – The Calling of the First Disciples. “They straightway left their nets and followed him.”

2. Robertson Window

Matthew 19:14 – The little children of Jesus. Jesus said “suffer little children and forbid them not, to come unto me.”

3. Symbols of Faith

There are also lively symbols imbedded in the geometric patterns in the five west side windows. Example: Burning Bush – Lamb and Cross – Dove are seen in the inset panels in this window.

Bronze Tribute Plaques

Christianity is a faith of peace, yet it is essential that we honour the courage, valour of our fallen friends and also those who served.

Narthex Entrance from Main Street

There are a number of Memorials and Gifts situated in this area as you enter the church from the main front entrance. We encourage you to take the time and browse.

Pipe Organs: The original organ was a reed type, purchased in 1879. In 1905, Knox installed a Karn pipe organ. It was an exceptional instrument that originally required a manual operator for the bellows. Our records show that a young person was paid 5 cents per service for this arduous task. It was later electrified and served for over 100 years. In 2016, a new electronic organ was installed.

Resounding Church Carillon: In 1979, a carillon was installed to ring out the joy of worship services at Knox. A new electronic carillon was installed in 2015 to the Glory of God and the Milton Community, which now marks the time of day, Sunday service, weddings and the celebration of life to acknowledge our departed loved ones.

The sound of bells wordlessly touches everyone who hears them. Our music gives a tangible presence to our community to be enjoyed and to remind everyone of a higher power!

Restoration Crisis: In June 2010, the congregation was forced to vacate the sanctuary when it was discovered that the roof was unsafe. As with the construction of the first stone church and later the new brick church members certainly felt the undertakings were very imposing, but with the help and trust in our Lord and determination, the congregation once again met their challenge.

Pastor Howard Sullivan’s leadership was of vital importance during this period, mentioning on numerous occasions, “There is much work to be done. We have a tremendous sense of purpose in our church”, as those in the past – “this effort will lead to the blessings and rededication of our sanctuary to God’s Glory! We all hope the emerging church will faithfully proclaim his glory now and beyond.”

The Milton community beyond the church family came together to assist in a number of ways with the restoration project. Our outreach activities and events took many forms. We at Knox were particularly encouraged by the community’s interest and support. We thank everyone for their assistance either financial or spiritual in helping us restore and in sharing that special community feeling of coming together in the heart of downtown Milton.

In 2013, following the restoration project the church was honoured at a Town Council meeting with a Heritage Milton Award in recognition of the architectural restoration.

Knox Presbyterian Church continues to be a part of shared ministries, reaching out in so many ways, to serve the needs of our own church family, the Milton community and world communities.

We invite you to join us in worship at any time – you will be most welcome!