Old Hay Bay Methodist Church
Part 1

Please read within a historic context. You will read terminology that was accepted before but may not be now.

Methodist services had many prayers.  This opens with a historic Wesleyan Covenant Prayer:

"I am no longer my own, but yours. Put me to what you will, rank me with whom you will: put me to doing, put me to suffering; let me be employed for you, or laid aside for you, exalted for you, or brought low for you. Let me be full, let me be empty, let me have all things, let me have nothing; I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things to your pleasure and disposal. And now, glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, you are mine and I am yours. So be it. And the convenient now made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven. Amen."


Who were the people who built this church and brought Methodism to Upper Canada?

On June 16th, 1784 United Empire Loyalists from Major Van Alstine’s military regiment arrived in the Township of Adolphustown, on land that is now the United Empire Loyalist Park in The Town of Greater Napanee.  It was a wilderness that had been quickly surveyed the previous fall, but not divided into lots, while the future residents waited in Sorel, Lower Canada, now Quebec.  There were 258 people of all ages, who quickly made camp. The group contained a wide diversity of: military rank, counties of origin, religious beliefs and skills.  Their loyalty to British rule had bound them together, with a strong sense of community and a will to survival.

Continue reading . . . click here.

Part II
The Subscribers of the Meeting
Please read within a historic context. You will read terminology that was accepted before but may not be now.

There were 22 original financial subscribers, known as the founders, being 21 males and one female.  They were representatives of the 165 members of the first congregation.

Here are some brief facts about the founders, to show how diversified the group was. They came together in faith to build a house of God. Many of the names are still in the vicinity of the church.

Joseph Allison was born in 1754, in Haverstraw, New York, now Rockland. He was the first generation born in the Thirteen colonies from England.  He had a good business in the “carrying trade”, meaning general stores. He died in 1840. Part of his land grant, is the now UEL Loyalist Park, and descendent still live in the area.

John Bininger was born in 1757, the Loyalist son of a Wesleyan Methodist Minister. He was a teacher to the Mohawks, in Tyendinaga. He died in 1817.

William Casey, born in 1760, was a Master carpenter, son of a silversmith. He died in 1842. One of William’s great-grandson was Orrin Robinson Casey, of the famed poem “Casey at the Bat.”

Joseph Clapp, born 1762, and died 1813 was a Quaker living in Adolphustown until 1808 when the family moved to South Marysburgh. He was not a Loyalist.

Daniel Dafoe was born in 1769 of Swiss roots and was baptized in the Dutch Reformed Church, in NY State. He was the youngest of the subscribers, only twenty-three years of age. He died in 1845.

Henry Davis, born 1753, died 1831, was a military man, who purchased a farm in 1797 that stayed in the family until 1966. His mother-in-law Margaret Gurmandy Huffnail was buried at the “Old Methodist Chapel” at Hay Bay.

Andrew Embury, born 1757-and died 1844, was a nephew of USA Methodist founder Philip Embury. This is the same Embury family connected to the Blue Church, Prescott, Ontario. Descendant of this family live in the area.

Arra Ferguson, 1769-1853, was a military man, and was involved with OHBC and the Methodist White Chapel in PEC. In 1818 Arra was asked, because of his beautiful penmanship, to write the deed for Hay Bay church on the site donated by Paul Huff.

Peter Frederick was a blacksmith. According to a historical review of Adolphustown, (written 1909) he made the hardware for the original church. His children received their land grants in Hastings County and moved to that area. Player wrote this about Peter “he wavered in his religion, but returned to the Lord, and died happy.” Peter is buried in cemetery at the Hay Bay Church, and in celebration of the 225th Anniversary, in 2017; his stone was refurbished and stood back up, after spending years buried.

Christopher German, born 1767 and died in 1840. He joined the military at the age of 15, just a boy. He was awakening to God, became a licensed minister in 1834 and remained one until his death.

John Green, was born in 1746 and settled across the water in Marysburgh, Prince Edward County. His brother, William Green was born in 1742 both lived near John. Both had military backgrounds.

Henry Hover, born in 1763 he showed an early interest in religion. He had been a prisoner of war and was sixteen when the Declaration of Independence was signed. His family came from Holland to USA. He died in 1842.

Paul Huff, born in 1747 and died in 1818, he was the owner of the land the church was built on. The first camp meeting in 1805 was held on the Huff farm.  The deed for the church was not registered. In 1910, when The Methodist Church of Canada purchased the property and took legal entitlement for the first time. The property Paul Huff though he had transferred to the church was really owned by successive proprietors of the farm.

Wm Ketcheson Sr UE painting

      Wm Ketcheson Sr UE painting

His brother Solomon Huff, born 1751 and died in 1828.  There is no proof of military service prior to 1783, so Solomon and his descendants cannot claim U.E.

William Ketcheson, born in 1759 and died in 1848. A UEL, he is the only subscriber we have a picture of. The family was from Yorkshire, England. It is said that all Canadian Ketcheson’s are related to him. His wife Mary Rull embraced Methodism.

Elizabeth Roblin, born in 1754 and died in 1815, was the widow of Philip Roblin, 1750-1788 She gave 12lbs, the second highest donation. She was 38 and raising 8 children from the ages of 4-14 at the time when she gave.  She later marries one of her boarders, John Cannifton and settled in what is now the village of Cannifton.

Peter Ruttan, born in 1742and died in 1827, he was known as ‘Noisy Pete’, because of his out bursts in worship. The younger brother William, was born in 1758 and died in 1843. They were French Huguenots, and were raised in the Dutch Reformed church. Some descendants believe Peter was buried in the church cemetery. William was buried at St. Paul’s Anglican church, now know as St. Alban’s cemetery in Adolphustown.

Rev. Daniel Steele, was Methodist, and participated in the first camp meeting in August 1805 at OHBC, attended by over 2000 people. He was a ‘local preacher’, who visited the sick and buried the dead.

Conrad Van Dusen, UEL, was born in 1751and died in 1827.  was a military man, and his family from Brussels to New Amsterdam in 1636 (New York City) and then to Upper Canada. He often opened his home for religion services.

Casparus (Casper) Van Dusen was born on April 19, 1761, in Dover Township, which was twenty miles east of Poughkeepsie in Dutchess County, New York State. Records show that Casper married after arriving in Adolphustown. He was married on February 16, 1786 to Hannah M. Shorts, U.E. who was born January 23, 1766.  When Casper and Hannah moved to Sophiasburgh, Casper became involved with another Methodist meeting house. His name is on the on the original deed for The White Chapel, also known as the Conger Chapel. Casper died in 1838.  He and his wife Mary are buried at the White Chapel Cemetery.

Old Hay Bay Church 2012

Old Hay Bay Church 2012

The Founders were a diversified group, with one goal: To build for their families, future generations and the community a large meeting house.

Many family lines are from founders to today’s custodians and trustees. The journey started then is now our journey to continue. It is our role to merge the past with the future, just as the founders did over two hundred years ago.

Inside view of Old Hay Bay Churchfrom balcony

Inside view from balcony






  • Restoration Phase 1 - 1

- - - - - - RESTORATION PROJECT PHASE 1 and 2 UPDATES - - - - - -

Final inspection is done, and Phase 1 is now completed except for painting 1792 numbers over the front entrance,
which will be done as we are able in 2020.
We are looking forward to Phase 2, the Interior Renovation may be started in 2020 but the majority will be rescheduled for 2021, conforming to Covid-19 guidelines.

Over the next couple years, the wood will grey down, at which time we will seal the colour at the right time.

It's Happening, but we need $300,000 to do it!

Back in the 70’s, The Board of Trustees of Old Hay Bay Church commissioned the restoration of the Church, focusing mainly on the wood clad siding. Here we are, decades later, and again we see that much needs to be done to preserve the Church, inside and out, as well as our sixty-five year old custodians’ cottage. This Grand Old Lady has endured for 225 years and, as Trustees, it is our responsibility to maintain it, for future generations, but we need your help. The Restoration Committee is seeking grants and private donations to enable this to happen.

“This simple church, built in 1792 by United Empire Loyalists, recalls the early days of Upper Canada settlement. The Methodists’ evangelical zeal was expressed, not only in religious practice, but also in their contributions to Upper Canada’s early social and political development. Stationed on the earliest Methodist itinerant circuit, this site was the location of the first camp meeting in Upper Canada in 1805. The church was enlarged in 1835, and remains the oldest surviving Methodist building in Canada.” – Parks Canada

Donate Now Through CanadaHelps.org!

You can also donate by sending a cheque or post-dated cheques, made payable to:
Old Hay Bay Church
c/o Harvey Nikkel
1400 Benn's Point Rd.
Napanee, Ontario K7R 3K7
Donations of $20.00 and over will receive a tax receipt.

Restoration Questions and Information: Click here to contact us.

General Information about Old Hay Bay Church: Click here to contact us.


March 2021 - Canada's History - Unadorned Sanctuary
June 2020 - Press Release re: Covid-19
Spring 2018 - Community Heritage Ontario
February 25, 2018 - Kingston Whig
February 7, 2018 - Napanee Beaver

Welcome to Old Hay Bay Church

Old Hay Bay Church is the oldest surviving Methodist building in Canada. It was erected in 1792 by settlers, including United Empire Loyalists, who had recently arrived and established the community of Adolphustown (in modern-day Greater Napanee). Here, one can imagine, travelling saddlebag preachers thundered forth in their sermons. Here local residents gathered for worship and fellowship at Canada's first Methodist camp meeting in 1805.

The building was enlarged in 1835, used as a farmer’s barn when the congregation built a new church in Adolphustown, c. 1860, and reacquired for church use in the early 20th century by the Methodists, (continuing, after union in 1925, as The United Church of Canada). In 1957, the church was officially recognized as an Ontario Historic Site, and later in 1992 received the American Methodist designation. Likewise, the church, land, and its nearby cemetery were designated as a National Historic Site of Canada in 2001.

An annual worship service is held in the church on the fourth Sunday afternoon every August.
2017 marked the 225th Anniversary of Methodism with a special celebration.

ohbc_homeancestralroofs findusonfacebook

Goal Thermometer - Mar31-2021

Click here to view past historic bulletins


OPENING DAY - Friday July 2
The church will be open weekends in July and August for Friday, Saturday and Sunday and including the holiday Mondays, July 5th and August 2.

will take place on Sunday, August 22 at 3pm. Format to be announced at a later date.

Supporter – Kawartha Branch of the UELAC

The Kawartha Branch of the United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Canada (UELAC) has decided to make a small donation to your $300,000 restoration project.  It is fitting that since the Old Hay Bay Church was built by United Empire Loyalists in 1792, that Loyalists of today donate to continue the legacy that our Loyalist forefathers started. We have many Loyalist ancestors in our Kawartha Branch, including many who were given land grants in the Cataraqui Townships; particularly Ernestown, Fredericksburg and Adolphustown (Dafoe, Embury, Ketcheson, Weese, Holcomb, Ross, Fraser, Finkle, Parks, Hough, Sharp, Van Alstine…….etc.etc.)

We wish you and your trustees great success in this restoration project. We will be attending your August 26 service, at 3 pm as we have done for the last several years.

Supporter – Ruth Crawford: Wellington, ON

Thank you for sending me the information about the restoration of the Old Hay Bay Church. I’m so pleased that I can help! I wish to honour the memory of my 3x Great Grandmother Elizabeth Roblin Canniff. For years I have felt a special affinity towards her and her involvement in that community, and am always searching for stories about her amazing life.

In Memory of Margaret A. Fitzgerald

“to honour those of my ancestors who attended the original church. So many of the Founders have a space on my family tree.”
Kathleen Pechmann

Supporter & Custodians – Jim & Joan Smiley, Lindsay, ON

We have been Custodians since 2011 and are now proud members of the Board of Trustees. Old Hay Bay Church, with its Methodist/UEL history, Meeting House uses in the 1800’s, its unique architecture and its part in the creation of Upper Canada causes us to want to do our part to sustain this important glimpse into our past. In addition, the Church serves as a spiritual retreat while enjoying the sharing of its history with the many visitors we encounter every summer.

Supporter – Valerie Ruttan: Harrowsmith, ON

In honour of my husband’s Ruttan family connections.

Supporters – Four Winds Presbyterial

Four Winds Presbyterial donated and challenges other Presbyterials to do the same.

Visitor: Ron Orr

We first attended on Aug 26, 2018 for the Annual Pilgrimage Service and was intrigued with the history. Wishing you every success in your restoration project.

Custodian – Marion Egan, Enterprise, ON

I became involved with Old Hay Bay Church because of a love of history of the area that I wanted to know more about, i.e. the United Empire Loyalists and the love of my church.

In Memory of Joyce & Garth Legge

Margaret (Peggy) Milson via Canada Helps

In honour of Rev. Kenneth James Crawford

In honour of Rev. Kenneth James Crawford, former trustee and loyal supporter of Old Hay Bay Church – by Stuart & Mary Crawford

Visitor – Nancy Payne, Lindsay

Nancy Payne, Lindsay: “I’m so glad I finally visited Old Hay Bay Church earlier this summer. It’s a beautiful, historic spot, but as a lifelong United Church member who’s visited many historic churches, it felt truly special to experience a part of my own church’s history. Thank You!”

Supporter – Jean Rae Baxter: Kingston, ON

As a writer, I honour our Loyalist heritage through fiction. A more concrete contribution to the preservation of our heritage is this modest donation to maintain the Old Hay Bay Church.

Supporter – Mae Vaivods: Chatsworth, ON

Enclosed find 5 cheques in the amount of $XX each as my contribution to repairs of Old Hay Bay Church. My ancestors were the Ruttan brothers who were two of the founders of the church.

Custodians & Supporters – Sandra and Paul Sales, Ottawa, ON

My husband, Paul Sales, had heard of Old Hay Bay Church because of his travels through the Bay of Quinte area for the United Church of Canada. On one of these trips, I went with him and happened to sit beside Kathy Staples at lunch after a church service in Adolphustown. In talking to Kathy, I told her about my family research into an ancestor who had joined the Methodist church in the 1830s and that I would like to know more about the history of Methodism in Upper Canada. She told me about Old Hay Bay Church and the volunteer custodians who welcome visitors every summer. Kathy then offered to drive us to the church so that we could see it. From that point, I was hooked. I had a number of years’ experience working at a historic site in Kitchener and felt that Paul and I could help out, so two summers ago, we spent our first week at Hay Bay.

We enjoyed the visitors we met. Old Hay Bay Church is off the beaten track, so visitors who arrive there often have made a point of finding it because of a family connection, or a love of the United Church, or they like searching out historic sites. They often already have a basic knowledge of Methodism, United Empire Loyalists, and/or the founding families of the Hay Bay Church. Even if visitors are hearing the history for the first time, it’s not unusual for us to find ourselves talking to them for an hour. Because Paul and I think this historic site is a valuable symbol of a social movement that built community in remote settlements, and played a large part in the type of politics and education adopted by Upper Canada, we are not hesitant in sharing our enthusiasm for the church’s long history and making clear that we would value visitors’ financial support. Once they spend time in the building and begin to understand its role in Upper Canada history, they usually oblige. The two of us are convinced that we are making a valuable contribution and are looking forward to our third year on the edge of Hay Bay.

Supporters – John Grenville & Sue Bazely

We met when I was working for Parks Canada and we did the national historic site plaque unveiling ceremony in September 2001.

I have always seen the Old Hay Bay Church as one of those places that had a special impact on me, partly because of what the site evoked but, I think, mostly because of the dedication of the people. My wife . . . did some work on the cemetery in the 1990s while working with the Cataraqui Archaeological Research Foundation.

We would like to support the conservation efforts.

Supporter – Wanda Stride

I wish you and the board all the best as you work so hard to preserve a part of Canadian history, and our own spiritual story.

Wanda Stride, Presbytery Chair, Bay of Quinte Conference, United Church of Canada

Custodians – Rosella Donaldson and Kevin Macfarlane, Belleville, ON

Kevin feels it’s important to preserve original old buildings of Ontario, of which there are very few, and to interpret local church history, and genealogy. I became a volunteer because I knew I would be a capable interpreter after years of Farmers’ Markets and now a B&B – I like people!

Supporters – In honour of Paul Huff

The Huff Family Association contributed in honour of Paul Huff who donated money and land for the building of OHBC.

Supporter – Cloyne and District Historical Society

Our organization was most interested in the story about your restoration project for this historic church which was in the Napanee Guide.

Part of our mandate is “preserving the past for the future”. We generally confine our efforts to artifacts and archival items for our local area, but this is not just a provincial, but a Canadian historic site.

We wish you every success with this endeavour.

Shirley Sedore, President
Cloyne and District Historical Society

Elaine Farley: Athens, ON

When I approach the Old Hay Bay Church I am reminded of and connected with my ancestors. The cemetery is a quiet place to sit with the spirit of a paternal ancestor who helped build the church. As I look out over the bay I am reminded of the tragedy that two more of my Loyalist families endured. This ‘meeting house’ is part of a spiritual legacy that I will work to honour for future generations. It is home.
Custodian, trustee, chair of the Restoration Committee

Supporter – Patricia Brush

The article from the U.C. Observer arrived on Facebook. Such a beautiful church! All blessings to you as you proceed through this restoration.

Supporter – Trinity U.C. AOTS Men’s Club: North Bay, ON

At our Saturday meeting we had a presentation on Old Hay Bay Church by one of the custodians of Old Hay Bay Church.

Supporter – Hastings County Historical Society, Belleville, ON

The Hastings County Historical Society firmly supports the project launched by the trustees of the Old Hay Bay Church National Historic Site to repair and refurbish the church building to ensure its long-term viability.

There is no question, in our minds, that Old Hay Bay Church is a key asset to our region and must be maintained. Equally, being a 225-year-old wooden structure, it naturally requires renovation. The trustees are working very hard to meet these goals and their efforts warrant the full support and financial assistance of our whole community.

Richard M. Hughes, President

Local Volunteer – R. Staples

I hope the community really steps up and gets the funds together. We need to start celebrating who we are and where we came from. The Hay Bay Church is a really great monument to the origins of rural life in brand new land!

In Memory of Owen Ketcheson of Moira, ON

“Owen was an active community worker and had served as reeve, mayor and county warden. He was a 4-great grandson of William Ketcheson, one of the original sponsors of Hay Bay Church.”
Gayle & Grant Ketcheson

Supporter – Robert D. Watt

Thank you to you and the other trustees for taking on this big project and helping to ensure the life of this important building for generations to come.

Captain Peter Ruttan, one of the Founders who served with the Loyalist Regiment, the 4th Battalion of the New Jersey Volunteers, and who came to Adolphustown in 1783, was my sixth great grandfather on my mother’s side, and I am making this donation in memory of his contribution to the building of the Church.

With best wishes for the success of the campaign and with renewed thanks for your own work.

Robert D. Watt, LVO, AIH,
Rideau Herald Emeritus in the Canadian Heraldic Authority,
Chancellery of Honours, Rideau Hall

Supporter – Mary Houston, Niagara Falls

Mary Houston, Niagara Falls, writes “My husband and I had a delightful tour given by the guide assigned for the week. We had visited the OHBC twice before while on a camping trip but learned so much more this time. All the best with the restoration of this architectural and religious gem.”

Supporter – Kathy Staples: Kingston, ON

I have been a Board Trustee since 1991. During that time I have organized the custodians’ schedule; booked tours and weddings; and have been Treasurer.
Old Hay Bay Church is an important part of Canada’s heritage as well as being an integral part of Adolphustown, Ontario’s history. Being Chair of this area’s Bicentennial Celebrations in 1984 I saw how important these roots were to people. The church is a special, sacred space where many souls experience renewing, energizing and a sense of hope for the future as they see how past generations survived.

Deputy Reeve – Marg Isbestor

One of our “historic gems” in Greater Napanee/Lennox and Addington. I was sorry to miss the kick off….can’t seem to be more than one place at once….support this cause when and where you can…many thanks to those who are working hard to restore such an important building and story.

Custodians – Jan and Dave Orr, Lansdowne, ON

From the peaceful feeling inside the church, to the wonder of God’s nature all around the property, my husband and I renew our spiritual selves each year when we are caretakers at Old Hay Bay Church.

Supporter – Dennis Mills, Napanee

Dennis Mills, Napanee: “I saw the notice in the L&A Historical newsletter – a good reminder for me that this is a very important part of our cultural heritage!”

Custodians – Ed and Judi Rose, North Bay, ON

Judi and I enjoy welcoming tourists who discover a little about Canada’s history, visiting with the people who come from near and far to visit the area to learn a little about their ancestors, Methodist history in Canada or to just see a building that was built in 1792.

Supporter & Visitor – Margaret Cobourn Robinson: Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, USA

We enjoyed the reunion last summer. Because of this I wanted to donate to the beautiful Old Hay Bay Church.
My grandfather Dr. David Allison grew up in what is now the UEL Museum. I toured it years ago with my Mother – as we would vacation every summer at Graham Manor in Bath.

Custodian – Kathy Staples, Kingston, ON

Old Hay Bay Church is an important part of Canada’s heritage as well as being an integral part of Adolphustown, Ontario’s history. The church is a special, sacred space where many souls experience renewing, energizing and a sense of hope for the future as they see how past generations survived.

In Memory of: Jack, Elsie and Roger Sears

My family is related to the German family through Tunis Snook and Hannah Buck. Stophel “Christopher” German U.E.L. and wife Catherine German (Van Order), sister of Elizabeth Van Order, U.E.L, mother of Mary Snook (Burnett). Their children John German (21), Jane German (19) were victims of the Hay Bay Drownings of 1819.

Andrew Sears, Scarborough

Supporter – Harriet Lehman

Donation in honour of Elizabeth Roblin and Solomon Huff – 6th Great Grandparents of my son, Theodore Fennell.

Supporter – Centreville Memorial U.C.

Centreville Memorial U.C. moved their July service to OHBC and had a picnic lunch. Their donation is appreciated.

Supporter – Sally Rhyndress: Napanee, ON

Each year I look for a charity to which I can donate at Christmas to honour some relatives and friends. Most of us of a “certain” age do not need more “stuff” and a donation to a charity seems a worthwhile way of remembrance. When I saw your notice in this month’s Observer, I knew that your “repairs” fund would be perfect for our brother-in-law – one of your Trustees who handles maintenance.

Local Student Volunteer – Colby S.

Upon helping to close up OHBC for the winter, a group of visitors arrived. He reopened the church & when asked why, gave this reason:
Showing people history is important. I often read about history and am amazed at the parallels to what’s happening right now. Showing an old church to a couple of people might not be a lot, but sometimes in history, you need a spark to light the flame.

Supporter – Sandra F. Seabrook

In memory of my brother, Ross Cameron Clark.

Custodians – Barb and Gene Refausse, Trenton, ON

I like meeting people from far and wide who come there to learn more about their ancestors or just the history of the church and area. Apparently I (Barb) am related to one of the founders, namely Daniel Dafoe.

Supporter – Randy Anderson: Kimball, MI, USA

As a direct descendant of Andrew Embury and Jane Bell I am privileged to support this project.

Supporters – Addison United Church, Addison, ON

The Addison United Pastoral Charge has been offering its support to the Old Hay Bay Church for many years.

Congregation members have planned day trips to the church when the congregation’s members Ray Bower and Elaine Farley have been there as custodians and I am sure that this is reflective of previous and current custodians. Addison is also pleased to have its member Elaine on the Board of Trustees and its current fundraising campaign.

Several of the pilgrimage services have been attended by members and their families. The one that was most memorable was the 2017’s 225th Anniversary of the church which was preceded by the Bay of Quinte’s UCW Presbyterial 55th Service and Communion. We even organized a bus and members of other United congregations joined us on that day as well.

The charge has also done a Sunday service around the history of Methodism and the church and receives updates on events of the OHBC church.

When the United Church Women put out a call to support the rebuilding of the windows, the UCW and the congregation responded by making financial donations.

The Addison United Pastoral charge supports the historic significance of the Old Hay Bay Church. We need to do all we can to preserve our roots and faith and will continue to attend events and support the efforts of the Hay Bay Board of Trustees.

Robin Hoy, Admin Chair on behalf of the Addison United Church Council and its congregants