The Presbyterian congregation in Richmond Hill is one of the oldest in York County. The Sunday School, which began meeting in 1811 in a log schoolhouse erected by James Miles, is second oldest in Ontario. As the Sunday School was often the sole source of education for children of pioneers, this was an important addition to the fledgling village of Richmond Hill.
Until the arrival of Reverend William Jenkins in 1817, various itinerant ministers served the congregation, which met in Abner Miles' store and tavern. In 1821, the first frame church was built in 1821 on land allocated to the church on Miles family property, by James Miles. The church buildings at the site included the frame church, a manse, which was moved to Black Creek Pioneer Village in Toronto in 1978, and a drive shed. The Miles family burial ground also became part of the church site. The 1806 grave marker of Abner Miles, James' father is the oldest in the present day cemetery. William Jenkins is said to have selected his own grave site there, two weeks before his death in September of 1843. In 1840, James Miles deeded land to the congregation, with the official transaction being registered in 1844 with a payment of 300 pounds to James' heirs, Elizabeth and John Arnold.
In 1849, Reverend James Dick came from Emily, Ontario to serve
Richmond Hill. Under his leadership, the congregation became the largest in
Upper Canada in both number and financial position and maintained this status
into the 1870s. In 1877, Reverend Isaac Campbell in time to occupy the new
manse built the year before. During his ministry, the church building currently
standing was constructed in 1880 and opened for services in May 1881. The
building was constructed of the buff brick used in St. Mary's Anglican and the
Richmond Hill Methodist Churches. It possessed a unique squared-off steeple
design, unlike those of the three other churches on the skyline at the time.
The interior of the church has changed somewhat from the 1880s, notably with
the addition of a fine organ in the 1920s.
A new Sunday School hall was added in 1957, which was named the
George Francis Memorial Hall in 1963, in memory of the Sunday School
superintendant of the time, who was killed in a plane crash near Montreal. A
further addition to the church was added in the 1980s, and the meeting hall was
renovated in the 1990s and renamed William Wallace Hall after the long-serving
To browse through the cemetery, click here.