Thursday, January 1, 2015

Molly Brant, Founding Member

St. George's Anglican Cathedral, Kingston.

Did you know that Molly Brant, the subject of my upcoming biography, was the only female founding member of St. George's Anglican Church in Kingston. Ontario?

The idea of such a thing would've have been beyond the wildest imaginings of the Native girl, born in 1736 in poverty, in the Mohawk Valley of New York State. But here's how it came about:

The Rev. John Stuart, a Loyalist refugee from New York and a missionary to the Mohawk community there and later, in Montreal, petitioned for land at Cataraqui in December 1783. He applied to become chaplain of the troops stationed at old Fort Frontenac.

Stuart arrived in the spring of 1784, around the same time as Molly Brant, then about forty-seven years of age, and her family. The Canadian government, in recognition and appreciation of the service Molly had given this country during and after the American Revolution, was building Molly a comfortable house in the town, and saw to her relocation from her former home on nearby Carleton Island.

There was no church building in Cataraqui (Kingston) when Stuart and Molly arrived, and the commanding officer allowed Stuart to use a large room in the garrison as a place of worship. Soon the local inhabitants, including Molly, began turning out for Sunday services.

Shortly, Stuart was writing his bishop that his congregation had grown so large that the room they were using above the barracks could scarcely hold them all. The Reverend began to raise funds for a new church, starting by donating the first ten pounds himself.

Among the names of those who contributed to the building fund was that of Molly Brant. She was the only woman in the 1792 founding charter of the first St. George's Anglican Church. A memorial plaque inside today's magnificent Cathedral Church of St. George tells the story.

You can read more about this remarkable woman in Molly Brant, Mohawk Loyalist & Diplomat, to be released in April of this year.

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