S.R. Drake Memorial British Episcopal (B.M.E.) Church

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Address: 165 Murray Street


The S. R. Drake Memorial Church, located at 165 Murray Street, is situated on the north side of the street between Darling and Dalhousie Streets, in the City of Brantford. This two-storey brick building was designed with elements characteristic of the Loyalist style and was constructed in 1856. 

The property was designated for its historic and architectural significance by the City of Brantford under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act (By-law 188-85).


The S. R. Drake Memorial Church is associated with the Underground Railroad. Some American run-away slaves fled to Upper Canada via the Underground Railroad system and settled in groups along the Grand River. The Black Settlement of Ontario began after the American Revolution when a group of free blacks, who fought alongside the British, journeyed to Canada, with other settling Loyalists. Those who belonged to the African Methodist Episcopal Church formed the Society of Coloured Methodists, and as early as 1834, they worshipped in private homes. Later, a parcel of land was purchased and a frame church was built. In 1896, the existing brick building was constructed. 

In 1856, the denomination changed their name from “African” to “British” to give their place of worship a greater Canadian identity. The new name also protected the congregation from fear of being recaptured by American slave owners or their bounty hunters. During 1956, in honour of the Centennial of the Canadian British Methodist Episcopal Church, the Brantford church was named the S.R. Drake Memorial, in honour of the Revered S.R. Drake, who was the pastor from 1902 until 1909. Rev. Drake was responsible for the incorporation of the British Methodist Episcopal Church, in 1913. 

The S. R. Drake Memorial Church was built with elements characteristic of the Loyalist style. The original church, a simple frame building, was constructed for temporary use. It was replaced, in 1896, by the current yellow-brick building. The church is box-like and the gabled roof is steeply pitched. The round top windows on the upper level have rock-faced brick voussoirs, which are mirrored by a small rectangular two over two sash window, on the lower level. A date stone exists on the Murray Street facade indicating the church's founding of 1856, as well as the church's construction of 1896. 

Source: City of Brantford By-law 188-85.


Character defining elements that contribute to the heritage value of the S.R. Drake Memorial Church include its:

- exterior facades 

- round-top windows with rock-faced brick voussoirs 

- rectangular two over two sash windows on lower level 

- round-top transom over the front double doors with rock-faced brick voussoirs 

- small arched window and date stone above the entrance doors 

- front gabled roofline


City of Brantford 100 Wellington Square P.O. Box 818 Brantford, ON N3T 5R7

"S.R. Drake Memorial Church." Canada's Historic Places. Parks Canada.


"S.R. Drake Memorial Church." Canada's Historic Places. Parks Canada.

Ibbotson, Heather. "Heritage Church needs repairs." Brantford Expositor. Oct. 3 2009.






B.M.E. Church, Brantford, Brant (branbran00_001)

Venue Views: 

S.R. Drake Memorial Church - Front View

"This image captures the rock-faced voussoirs above the curved windows, 2007.

City of Brantford, Department of Planning, 2007."

Parks Canada. "S.R. Drake Memorial Church." Canada's Historic Places.

Image Date


S.R. Drake Memorial Church - Plaque

"The date stone and church name are pictured in this photo, 2007."

Parks Canada. "S.R. Drake Memorial Church." Canada's Historic Places.

Image Date


Stratford’s Opera House





Address: 140 Colborne Street, Brantford ON

"Stratford Opera House: Beginning as a music hall in 1866, the building that once sat at 140 Colborne St. (now the site of Harmony Square) was purchased by local merchant Joseph Stratford and turned into an opera house in 1881. One of its most famous guests was the brilliant Irish playwright Oscar Wilde, who stopped there on his North American lecture tour in 1882. The opera house was destroyed by fire on Jan. 10, 1908."

Ibbotson, Heather. "City has lost many historic buildings." Brantford Expositor. 5 April 2012. Accessed 20 June 2017.