Brantford's Black History
The Baptist Church & Reverend William Ree
The first baptist church in Brantford was established in 1833 following the arrival of Reverend William Ree’s to the village of Brantford. In 1834, the First Baptist Chapel was erected on the west side of Bridge Street (formerly West Street) between Darling and Wellington Streets. Early baptisms took place in the Grand River nearby and pews in the church were rented at six, eight and ten dollars per year in 1835, with a few rows at the back of the building for use free of charge. It is likely that some of the early Baptist members of the Black community in Brantford may have occupied these free pews on the sabbath. By 1855 a new church was constructed on the west side of West Street to accommodate the growing congregation-this building remains extant as the First Baptist Church on West Street today. Fire struck the church in 1857 and it was reconstructed that same year.
A Baptist Church was formed in the East Ward of Brantford in 1875. The East Ward Baptist Church, later known as Calvary Baptist Church, was associated with the First Baptist Church in 1874 before operating independently in 1878. This new Baptist Church in the East Ward served the local community, many of whom were part of the Black community in the City of Brantford.