St John's, Sandwich, Windsor, Ontario

Trivitt Memorial, Exeter St John the Evangelist, Kitchener Christ Church, Meaford St John's, Sandwich Old Saint Paul's, Woodstock
The Nativity - A Young Mary
3305 Sandwich Street Windsor, N9C 1B2   519-253-4824

The Rev. Bill Bradley

Sunday Services:
8:00am and 10:00am
Midweek Service:
Wednesday at 10:00am

If you were asked what parish has been in, or is responsible for, the Dioceses of Quebec, Toronto, Michigan and Huron, there is only one answer possible. That would be the parish of St. John's, Sandwich, not far from the Detroit River in Windsor. St. John's, Sandwich, is the mother church of no less than eight other parishes, including the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Detroit, Michigan. Seven of those eight parishes are still open and holding worship services on a regular basis.

The story of St. John's goes back as far as 1759 and the Battle of the Plains of Abraham. In 1774, the Quebec Act placed all British possessions west of New York, north of Ohio and east of the Mississippi into the old province of Quebec. The area in the west of this province was divided into four areas: Kingston, York, Niagara and Detroit. In 1788, a one square mile of ground was purchased across the Detroit River from Fort Detroit, was surveyed divided into one acre lots for settlement. This was to become the town of Sandwich.

Even though the Treaty of Versailles in 1783 had established that the southern boundary of Canada would be the middle of the Great Lakes, Britain still laid claim to the territory west of the Detroit River, claiming that it was Indian Territory and did not belong to the United States. By the terms of Jay's Treaty in 1794, Britain gave up its claim on this area, and by 1796, the government offices had been moved from Detroit to Sandwich. Since many of the 2,200 residents of Detroit wanted to remain subjects of the British Crown, they took up residence on the Canadian side of the Detroit River.
The Crucifixion - An Older Mary

Although an Anglican minister had, after visiting Detroit in 1786, requested that he be sent there as a missionary, his request had been denied. Sheriff Richard Pollard, a layman (ordained deacon in 1802 and priest in 1804), gathered people together in government buildings and read the Church of England services. He eventually became responsible for a territory 240 miles in circumference.

As the Anglican population grew, the Diocese of Toronto was created, and St. John's was in that geographical area, and again, in 1857, the parish came under the jurisdiction of Benjamin Cronyn and the Diocese of Huron.

The Church Today

St. John's remains a vital parish today. There is the food bank, the Mission to Seamen and the seniors' housing project. While the town of Sandwich has virtually disappeared as an identifiable town separate from the city of Windsor, its history as the first settlement created as a result of the American Revolution is still profound and interesting.

The interior of the present church is beautiful, and the stained glass, besides being of the calibre found in many Anglican churches, superb, also has an interesting twist to it. If you study the various faces of the Blessed Virgin as depicted in the windows, starting with the Nativity, you will discover that the face ages as the story unrolls in glass. The Nativity window shows a very young-looking Mary, and by the time we get to the Crucifixion, Mary has aged considerably.

St. John's is the only diocesan church I have visited which still has a dossal screen around the high altar, and the cross hanging over the altar is carved from a single piece of wood. While the side chapel is not large, it contains stained glass windows depicting some of the saints of the early church, including: St. Helena, St. Boniface, St. Martin of Tours, the Venerable Bede and St. Augustine. The cemetery is as old as the parish, containing many historic tombstones and markers. At one point in time, the cemetery was vandalised.

In a true community effort, the congregation, friends of St. John's, the administration and the community of the City of Windsor came together and funded the work of restoration, which was completed in 2004.

St. John's, Sandwich, mother church to dioceses and cathedrals, is proud of its history and the role it has played in the community in which it is found. Many thanks to the Rev. Bill Bradley and to Bob Maynard for the time they spent with me talking about the parish and touring the building and grounds. They and the rest of the congregation are custodians of a proud history and a promising future.

Looking east from the west door

The cemetery with church in background

May 2007 photostory by
Fr. Michael Atkins (former rector of
St Luke's Broughdale, London, Ontario )

Parish Historian: Mr. Bob Maynard

In front of the church is a
Archaelogical and Historic Sites Board of Ontario
Commemorative Plaque