History of Laidlaw

Laidlaw Memorial United Church is named in memory of the Reverend doctor Robert J. Laidlaw, who was the minister of St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church from 1878 to 1893. He died in 1895. The Presbyterian Church established a mission with his name on Mary Street in Hamilton. Some years later, it was decided to close that mission, and give the proceeds from the sale of assets to the Ottawa Street Mission, which was the group that formed the core of a new church in the east end of Hamilton. It was decided that this new church would be called Laidlaw Memorial Institutional Church.

The new church had its first meetings in Phoenix Hall on Kensington near Barton Street, and then in a large tent at the corner of Barton and Ottawa Streets. The cornerstone of our present building was laid on November 2, 1912, and the new church was dedicated on July 13, 1913. By 1917, the congregation had grown to over 200 members.

In 1925, the congregation voted to join the newly formed United Church of Canada, which was made up of former congregations of the Presbyterian, Methodist, and Congregationalist Churches. A large number of members left Laidlaw at that time and formed a new congregation now known as St. Enoch’s Presbyterian Church. Despite this setback, by 1929, Laidlaw Memorial United Church, as it was now known, had 521 members.

The original cost of the building was $21 000. The first mortgage was for $10 000, with the rest of the cost being paid from the sale of the Laidlaw Mission, and with contributions from Hamilton Presbytery. For many years, especially during the Great Depression, it was all the congregation could do to pay the interest on the loan. The 700 Club was formed of people who made special contribution to meet the $700 annual interest charges.

In 1942, the “Cent-A-Day Club” was formed of people willing to contribute a penny a day toward the reduction of the mortgage. At the 37th Anniversary Dinner on October 24th, 1949, the mortgage was burned, and over 400 church members rose and sang the Doxology, offering thanks that the debt had been paid.


Return to Laidlaw Home Page