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Visiting St. Jacobs, Ontario: The Gothic Lines of the Old Evangelical Church, Dating From 1914

Updated on April 8, 2020
Provincial flag of Ontario
Provincial flag of Ontario | Source
The old evangelical church on Main Street, St Jacobs
The old evangelical church on Main Street, St Jacobs | Source

A century of Gothic solidity in St. Jacobs

[This visit occurred some years ago.]

Etched in stone at this building in St. Jacobs (1), Woolwich Township, in Ontario's Waterloo Region, is the word 'Evangelical': this word one may strongly assume reflects a translation of the German usage 'evangelisch' (2), which refers to Lutheran congregations. Thus the building is sometimes known as the Old Evangelical Church.

Although this building is not used for its original purpose today, the congregation which used to meet in it still does exist, meeting in a more modern building. (The building has had a variety of uses including as a venue for Calvary United Church.) The building itself dates from 1914. Interestingly, for 50 years prior to 1914 the congregation which sponsored it used a white brick building on the same site, at the corner of King and Cedar Streets. Prior to 1864, a log building was used as a meeting place (3).

The building's Gothic features are classic examples of that style: pointed window arches — its King Street entrance also has a pointed arch —, flying buttresses and pinnacles at its tower. Executed in brick, there is also some stone facing. Proportionately, the building is relatively tall for its small size (and in these restricted dimensions may be found a clue as to why congregations have not found it practical to continue using it indefinitely). What the building may lack in depth, however, is more than compensated by its sense of solidity.

St. Jacobs was formerly known as Jakobstettel (German: Jakob's Village), in honour of Jacob C. Snider (1791-1865), the founding settler of a Swiss German background. As in the wider Waterloo Region, at St. Jacobs there is a strong sense of German heritage

April 8, 2020


(1) The name 'St Jacobs' does not refer to a venerated religious figure from many centuries ago; instead it reflects the name of the founder of the community Jacob C.Snider (1791-1865); for reasons which are not wholly clear, 'St' was added to word 'Jacob' as the name by which the community would be known.

(2) It would thus be inaccurate to think of the term 'evangelical' here as having reflected the sort of — often independent — church which sometimes goes by this name, found in profusion in the American Midwest, etc.

(3) See also: ;

Some sourcing: Wikipedia

St. Jacobs, Ontario
St. Jacobs, Ontario | Source

Also worth seeing

St Jacobs is a photogenic village with Mennonite heritage, and a much frequented Farmers' Market; the village has a number of popular gift shops.

In Kitchener (distance: 15.8 kilometres), visitor attractions include Woodside National Historic Site of Canada, boyhood home of Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King.

West Montrose (distance: approx. 9.3 kilometres) has an historic Covered Bridge, dating from 1880.

Elora (distance: 25.4 kilometres); its picturesque Mill on the Grand River is a visitor attraction.


How to get there: Air Canada, flies to Toronto Pearson Airport, with wide North American and other connections, from where car rental is available. (Distance from Toronto Pearson to St. Jacobs: 102 kilometres.) WestJet and Bearskin Airlines fly to Region of Waterloo International Airport, from where car rental is available, from Calgary and Ottawa respectively. (Distance from Reg. of Waterloo Int. Airport to St Jacobs: 20.6 kilometres.) Some facilities may be withdrawn without notice. For up to date information, please check with the airline or your travel agent.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

Map location of Woolwich Township within Waterloo Region
Map location of Woolwich Township within Waterloo Region | Source

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