Montreal - 1832-1925

The earliest American Presbyterian presence in Montreal was in  the St. Gabriel Street Church. It held this connection from the founding of St.Gabriel's in 1790 until  the formation of the Presbytery of Montreal  in 1793.  Some members left in 1803 to form their own church, St. Andrew's Presbyterian. The Americans seceded from St. Andrew's in 1822 and founded the American Presbyterian Society when the Scottish members of the congregation decided they wanted a minister from Scotland. The Scottish segment retained the property and name of St. Andrew's. The minority of Mr. Easton's church in St. Peter Street

The first building of the American Presbyterian Church opened in 1826 at the north-east corner of St. James and  Victoria Square, where Morgan's wearhouse used to stand, and the Bank of Nova Scotia  now stands.  It opened for Divine worship on Dec.1st, 1826. In 1866 a new building was completed on the south-east corner of René Levesque and Drummond,  based on a design of  M. Morrell of  Brooklyn. It was embellished in 1902 by the addition of the Tiffany windows.   The IBM-Marathon Building  now occupies that site.

The congregation of  the American Presbyterian Church was mainly middle-class.  An 1864 survey showed that a disproportionate number were merchants and manufacturers (almost 60%) and many owned or were partners in those enterprises. The Church's members influenced the community, most notably, through  participation in the temperance movement and  the American Presbyterian Free School  in the working-class suburb of Griffintown

Some of  the pastors are worthy of special  mention.   The  first  minister of American  Presbyterian, Joseph Stibbs Christmas  founded the  first temperance society in Canada.    George Perkins, a graduate of Princeton, left his ministry in 1839 to return to the United States to work as an abolitionist.  In 1923 another minister of this church, Richard Roberts, was the first in Montreal to broadcast his sermons, though not without opposition.

[1909 postcard from the collection of Patty Brown]

The American Presbyterian Church in Montreal was affiliated with the Presbytery of New York for a century.  In 1925 it joined the newly formed United Church of Canada and became known as the American United Church.  In 1934 the congregation amalgamated with Erskine United Church to become the Erskine and American United Church.


Rev. Joseph Stibbs CHRISTMAS Aug. 1824 - Oct. 1828
"A man of  rare personal qualities, of an ardent and poetical temperment and withal of ferverent zeal in his ministerial work, which was crowned with great success, the membership of the church rising during his four years' pastorate, from 30 to 274."

Rev. George W. PERKINS  May 30,1830 - June 1837
"He resigned on account of ill health in June, 1837, and died in Chicago in November 1856, aged 52 years." On April 10, 1831, William Lyon MacKenzie wrote of Rev. Perkins and American Presbyterian Church......"The congregation is numerous, and the people generally well-dressed, forming evidently an important and influential part of the citizens of Montreal. Yet the minister, because he was born in the United States, is forbidden to marry even the members of his own congregation."

Rev. Caleb STRONG  Sept. 1839 - Jan. 1847
"A man of fine character, a scholar and warm friend to all. He died in January 1847, only 31 years old."

Rev. John McLEOD Nov. 7,1847 - April 1857
"Added during his ministry 164 members to the church. Mr. McLeod afterwards laboured in Philadelphia for many years and is now resting [1887] in the evening of his days." 

Rev. James B. BONAR  July 1857 - Feb. 1869
"It was during his ministry

Rev. Geo.H. WELLS Nov. 1871 - Oct. 1891

Rev. T.S. McWILLIAMS May 1892 - Oct. 1902

Rev. Richard ROBERTS Nov. 1904 - June 1920

Rev. Alex KERR Associate  1922

Where to access the American Presbyterian Church records:

YEARS LDS film# FFSQ film# ARCHIVES which hold the originals*
1832-1851 2027133 M 336/38 United Church Archives - ANQ
1852-1899 2027134 M 336/39 United Church Archives - ANQ
1900-1925 not on film not on film United Church Archives - ANQ
*Note: For pre-1900 records use the films whenever possible. It's cheaper (& often faster) than consulting the Archives.  

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Patty Brown
coordinator of the MontréalGenWeb