• Congregationalists were Protestant, independent worshippers and  each ‘congregation’ was autonomous
  • The Bolton Congregationalists built a mud brick church which opened on December 15h, 1842 1. Clay was plentiful in Bolton and several early buildings in the village were also made from mud bricks 2   
  • Although the church and cemetery were adjacent to Richard Paxman’s tannery property, the land was donated by George Bolton 3
  • Rev. Joseph Wheeler, a trained blacksmith, carriage ironer, musician and man-of-all-trades, was the first paster of the Bolton Circuit (including Macville) starting in 1845 4
  • The 1851 census of Albion Township recorded Mary and Joseph Wheeler and daughter Emily living in a one storey frame house.  The house was likely built around 1846 just as Charles Bolton was starting to selling lots on the south side of King Street East (former Clergy Reserve)
Excerpt from T.C. Prosser’s 1854 Map of Bolton. The map is oriented to the east. The home of Rev’d. J. Wheeler is indicated on the south side of King Street. Region of Peel Archives.
  • Church membership grew rapidly in the early 1850s, a reflection both of local prosperity and Rev. Wheeler’s ministry.  In 1853, the ‘Sabbath School’ enrolment doubled in one year to over 70 students despite the requirement to spend 4.5 hours at church each Sunday 5
  • By 1863, the mudbrick building was deteriorating badly and was replaced, on the same site, by a larger timber frame structure with roughcast exterior and beautiful gothic windows.  It opened in January 1864 6

    Congregational Church seen from the Warbrick driveway. It was built in 1863. East-facing front door is barely visible to left. McFall Family Collection
  • Rev. Wheeler made the pipe organ that filled the church with music
  • For years, Joseph Wheeler was the only resident minister in Bolton.  He was revered by his congregation who supported him with donations of produce or whatever they could offer
  • After his death in 1878, a new minister could not be found and members were gradually drawn to other local churches.  The Congregational Church closed its doors in December 1879  7
Cairn with tombstones on the site of the former Congregational Church Cemetery. The cairn is on the east side of Queen Street, immediately north of the river.

And the building?

  • The church was the site of the Joseph Firth Warbrick’s funeral on November 15, 1889.  In  1910, the structure was finally dismantled. The large timbers were used by Lincoln Hutton to build a house on land owned by his wife Mary Alice Elliott. It later became the Newlove home, 72 Nancy Street 8
  • The cemetery can be reached by stairs, set into the hillside on the east side of Queen Street, north of the river, at the edge of Warbrick Lane
  1. Ian R. Dalton, The Congregational Church of Bolton, paper written July 1988
  2. Mud bricks were shaped and dried in the sun, but were ‘unburnt’ or not ‘kilned’
  3. Documents transferring ownership from George Bolton to the Trustees of the Congregational Church were recently located within a private family collection of documents.  This serves to update the written history of the United Church in Bolton that suggests that Richard Paxman provided the land
  4. Our Bolton Heritage in the United Church, published 1951, p. 4
  5. ibid.
  6. Ian R. Dalton
  7. Entry in the diary of Joseph Firth Warbrick
  8. Our Bolton Heritage, p. 23