St. Paul's Memorials in Glass

Photograph Collection. P-0200.

Interior of the re-built St. Paul’s United Church, November 20, 1933.


One of the most eye catching aspects of St Paul’s United Church is the abundance of stained glass windows encompassing the historic building. Among the twenty-four stained glass memorial windows, the church has panels that were salvaged from the original building from 1855, from the rebuilding of the church in 1933, and others more recent. Among the various memorials is a three paneled scene which commemorates fallen soldiers who lost their lives in various battles of the First World War, otherwise known as the First World War Memorial Window.

The memorial window, which occupies the first high window on the south side of the building, includes Christ Knocking at the Door, The Scene at Emmaus, and Sowing the Seed. However, the original window, which was completed in 1919, only includes the first and the second panels. The first two panels were saved from the fire in 1931 that destroyed most of the old church.

The original stained glass window had a much different appearance than that which we see today. Completed just a year after the end of the First World War, it included the inscription “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life” Revelation 2:10. The names included on the panel include Aimers Bertram, James Knowles Bertram, Goldwin McCausland Pirie, and Robert Sterling.

Among the striking differences between the original stained glass panels and the newer panel is the position of the “In grateful memory of those who fell on the field of honor in the Great War 1914-1919 in defense of righteousness, justice, and liberty”. We can see the differences between the positioning of the inscription “Be thou faithful…” and between the throne portions on the top of each of the stained glass panels. If you look closely you can see differences in styles between the two original panels and the newer panel.

After the end of World War One, many churches in both North America and Europe commissioned stained glass memorial windows, and it comes as no surprise that Dundas followed suit. Some followed the style of traditional Gothic revival designs, whereas others went for a newer approaches. Some churches would commission actual war images to appear in their memorial windows, such as soldiers fighting, airplanes, and other common warfare images.

To learn more about the fire in 1931, the First World War Memorial stained glass windows, or to check out the panels for yourself, visit the Dundas Museum and Archives and St. Paul’s United Church!



St. Paul’s United Church, St. Paul’s Sanctuary – Images & Reflections, 2003.


This post was written by Claudia Palermo, our Curatorial Assistant, a position made possible by a grant from Young Canada Works in 2014.

We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada (Youth Employment Strategy) through the Department of Canadian Heritage for the Young Canada Works Program. Nous reconnaissons l’appui financier du gouvernement du Canada (Stratégie emploi jeunesse) par l’entremise du ministère du Patrimoine canadien pour le programme Jeunesse Canada au travail.