Over the past few issues, we’ve learned of new housing initiatives in our neighbourhoods. You may have heard that Indwell has plans for the Wentworth Baptist Church at the corner of Cannon and Wentworth. We thought you might enjoy some history on the building so we are offering an article from our 2019 archives.
150 Years in the Neighbourhood
Seán McGuire, on behalf of Wentworth Baptist Church
In a day when Hamilton had a population of only 24,000 people who walked to work and back along unpaved and unlit streets and who drove horse and buggies, not cars; in a day when Wentworth Street was the eastern city limits, and lagoons stretched from Burlington Bay nearly all the way to Barton Street, my church—Wentworth Baptist Church—was born.
While it wouldn’t be officially called a church until 1890, what would become the Wentworth Street Church began as the “Wentworth Street Sunday School”. First opening its doors in 1869, this “Sunday school” was started to give families education in the basics of the Christian faith at a time when there were few, if any, other churches in this area of our city.
A lot has changed since then. Industry in our neighbourhood moved away from farming and towards steel & manufacturing, and seems to be changing into something new as you read this. Hamilton’s population grew to over half a million people. Wentworth Street changed from being at the edge of the city to being in its center. There are now street lights on every corner, the roads are paved, and cars have replaced the horses. Even our church has changed, having moved north down Wentworth, from King William to Cannon, in 1924 after our building was destroyed by a fire.
In some sense, change is inevitable. But the familiar platitude “the more things change, the more they stay the same” has a ring of truth to it, doesn’t it. At least, it does when I reflect on my church’s history as we approach our Sunday School’s 150th Anniversary this fall. Through all the changes that have taken place in Hamilton, there has consistently been a place on Wentworth Street for people who are interested in hearing more about God, Jesus, and faith to come and learn; a space for people who are seeking to learn to live out what it means to love God, love others, and follow Jesus. If that is you, there’s a place for you here. If that’s not you, we still love you, and we will be seeking tangible ways to show that love this year as our way of celebrating 150 years of being present in our neighbourhood.