HISTORY

To the east of the city of Hamilton, some distance from the end of the trolley line at Wentworth Street, existed a number of farms, and a few families living in a small group of houses between the muddy track of Main Street and the escarpment. Rev. Dr. R. J. Treleaven, Pastor of First Methodist Church, and Chairman of the District, realized the need of religious training for the children.
On Sunday, Nov. 3rd, 1907 the first session of the non-denominational Sunday School was held in the Trolley Street School, now Gage Avenue. The school was sponsored by First Methodist Church, St. John's Presbyterian Church and Wentworth Street Baptist Church and by December had an attendance of 50 scholars.

The Hamilton Methodist Union, realizing the need for a more permanent presence, arranged for the purchase of a plot of land 100' x 300' at the corner of what is now Springer Ave. and Main St. East. By early summer, 1908, the Union Sunday School had become so overcrowded that a different solution was needed, so Mr. T. S. Morris arranged for the erection of a large tent on the newly-purchased property and, at his own expense, had a rough wooden floor laid and a lighting system installed.

On July 17, 1908, the Union Sunday School was dissolved, with each of the three denominations starting its own Sunday school. A letter was received from the Rev. Dr. Treleaven stating that the Methodist Church would begin preaching and sabbath school services in the tent on July 19, 1908 at 3 o'clock. The first reception of members was held August 2, 1908 when 25 people united with the church. The new church was called Ryerson Methodist Church in honour of the Rev. Edgerton Ryerson, a leader of Methodism in Canada's early history. The new brick Sunday School, or Chapel as it was known, had its cornerstone laid on Sept.19, 1908, and was dedicated on Dec. 13 of the same year.

With the arrival of Rev. George King on July 1, 1910 a parsonage became necessary. At first a house was rented, but this was unsatisfactory because of its distance from the church, so, in 1911, a house was built at 899 Main Street East and this remained the parsonage for a number of years.

In 1912 the city limits were extended eastward taking in the Ryerson area. Many new houses were being built and by the fall of 1913 the Chapel was overcrowded because of the increased church population. A new church building was dedicated April 7, 1915 and in 1923 it was decided to proceed with the purchase of an organ which the members had long looked forward to. The amount of money required was pledged within one full week of the all-member visitation, and an order was placed with Casavant Frères, of St. Hyacinthe, Que. and was duly installed. The organ was dedicated in early Dec. 1924, when Sir Ernest McMillan gave a formal recital.

Dickinson Hall was added in 1933, and in 1951-1952 a building extension, which included a memorial chapel, an assembly hall, a gymnasium, and the Ladies' Parlour, was added. More recently, in 1996, a renovation was done to make the church wheel-chair accessible. This included the installation of a lift system which gives access to each of the 3 levels, the Assembly and Lower Sunday School Halls, the sanctuary level and the parlour on the 3rd floor.

Over time the manse was moved from Main St. to 110 Prospect Ave. S. and finally to 170 Delaware Ave. In the 1980s, the manse was sold and the funds put aside to cover a housing allowance for the minister.

Although the evening services were discontinued sometime in the late 1950s, they were revived in 2000 in a more contemporary format. In the early 1970s, a bell choir was established, and a tape ministry for the ill and shut-ins was begun in 1977. A memorial gift from a member of the congregation of a computerized carillon system, given in 1995, calls people to worship each Sunday. In 1997, with the impetus of the U.C.W., the main kitchen was renovated, a number of major appliances were replaced, and a dishwasher added. This kitchen is the hub for major congregational lunches and dinners.

The U.C.W. undertook the renovation of the third floor to make the Tower Room more suitable for Sunday School usage, and the Parlour (no longer The Ladies' Parlour) more available for small group meetings.

'Vision 2000' was initiated to make Ryerson a computer-friendly church. The computer and projector work together to display hymns, sermon-aids, announcements and pictures of congregational happenings on the motorized screen at the back of the choir loft.

When Ryerson Church began, the members of the congregation were all within walking distance of the church. By the 1950s members were beginning to move out of the neighbourhood into different areas of the city, and now a large portion of the congregation lives at some distance, in the suburbs and even in some nearby towns.
 

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