Bank’s Heritage: the churches

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By Robert Smythe

Although its development was more closely associated with commerce, the Centretown section of Bank Street also had religious buildings. Here are four of Bank’s churches. (Photos: Library and Archives Canada, City Archives, Ottawa Journal)

Bank Street Presbyterian

Bank Street Presbyterian, on the northwest corner of Bank and Slater, was established in 1865. The congregation met in a small wooden building nearby, while their new church was being completed in 1868-69. The church’s tall narrow spire stood as a Bank Street landmark seen along the length of the street.

Bank Street Presbyterian

Following a fire in 1880 the Bank Street Presbyterian Church remodelled the interior and added a Sunday School Hall along Slater. In 1912, having outgrown their premises, they sold the property to C. Jackson Booth who later developed the Jackson Building here. Having renamed itself the Chalmers Presbyterian, they built a much larger church at O’Connor and Cooper (now the Dominion Chalmers United Church).

Interior views of the Bank Street Presbyterian Church and Sunday School.

Interior views of the Bank Street Presbyterian Church and Sunday School. Built right to the edge of the street, with the coming of the Ottawa Electric Railway, worshippers were continually disrupted by the rumbling of passing streetcars.

McLeod Street Methodist Church

The McLeod Street Methodist Church at the southeast corner of Bank and McLeod was built in 1890. It was designed in the Romanesque style by Moses C. Edey (architect of the Aberdeen Pavilion). There was a small, wood-framed church building next door, which may have served the church while the funds were being raised for their stone building. In 1961, the church was dissolved and merged with the Stewart United Church. It was demolished in 1965.

Stewarton Presbyterian Church

The Stewarton Presbyterian Church was established at Bank and Argyle in 1889. Until 1906 the church was located in a brick building (top), when it relocated to a much larger limestone building (bottom) in the Scottish Baronial style designed by James P. Mac-Laren. In 1925 both the McLeod Street and Stewart Churches became part of the United Church of Canada.

McLeod Stewart

Although it is not named for him, the 1961 union of the McLeod and Stewarton United Churches recalls the name of McLeod Stewart, who had served as mayor of Ottawa and whose family had developed the area south of Gladstone known as Stewarton.

Centretown United Church.

In 2008, the congregation of McLeod Stewarton United Church (which by that point had merged with the First United Church on Kent Street) left the area for Westboro, and a new congregation was formed and renamed the Centretown United Church.

Metropolitan Tabernacle

The Metropolitan Tabernacle was founded in Huckell’s Hall at Frank and Bank in 1931. They met for services in the Imperial Theatre until 1933 when they finally had sufficient funds to build their own church on Bank between Gladstone and McLeod. It is said that the building was designed to be converted into a movie theatre should the tabernacle not succeed. This photo is from the 1955 funeral of Controller Daniel McCann, a church elder.

Metropolitan Bible Church

Renamed the Metropolitan Bible Church, the congregation acquired the adjacent lot at Bank and McLeod (previously an Imperial Oil service station) and added their Sunday School and Christian education centre in 1967, designed by architect Basil Miska.

Metropolitan Bible Church

The Metropolitan Bible Church was sold to a developer, and demolished for condos—save the front wall of the 1933 building which was surgically removed, stored on-site and reattached to the new development, where it now fronts the Shoppers Drug Mart at Bank and Gladstone.