Hay Bay Church

People leaving the Hay Bay Methodist Church
Ontario Churches and Institutions Photograph Collection, “People leaving the Hay Bay Methodist Church” 90.162P006, United Church of Canada Archives.
  • Nomination: Hay Bay Church
  • Category: Place
  • Nominated By: Individual
  • Year Commemorated: 2014

Old Hay Bay Church is the oldest Methodist Church in Canada. This rural two-acre property and adjacent graveyard overlook Hay Bay, near Adolphustown, Ontario. It currently stands containing displays and interpreters and is still used for an annual worship service on the fourth Sunday afternoon every August.

Congregation outside Hay Bay Methodist Church
Ontario Churches and Institutions Photograph Collection, “Congregation outside Hay Bay Methodist Church” 90.162P004N, United Church of Canada Archives

The church was first built in 1792 as a meeting house in the early days of Upper Canadian settlement when communities were small and isolated, and waterways were the main form of transportation. Its pioneer meeting house character is greatly reinforced by its site and the unspoilt rural setting. The church was conceived as a public space used for both secular and religious meetings although its internal arrangements reflected its religious priorities. Despite some changes, the church still retains the essential characteristics of the pre-1840 evangelical meeting house, as it was developed in Britain, New England and modified in Upper Canada. Enlarged in 1835, Old Hay Bay Church closed as a regular place of worship in 1860 and becoming a farm storage area. In 1910 it was reacquired and restored by the Methodist Church. It is still used for annual services by the United Church of Canada.