Her Majesty's Chapel Royal of the Mohawk


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Christ Church, Tyendinaga, is a church with a particular honour--it is one of six Chapels Royal that exist outside the United Kingdom.  It is one of two Chapels Royal that are located in Ontario (the other being St Paul's Church in Brantford, another church associated with the Mohawk) and is the only one that functions as a parish church with regular services throughout the year.

When the Mohawks, who were loyal allies of the Crown, left New York State in the midst of the American Revolution, they travelled north to Canada.  Settling for a brief time in Lachine, Quebec, they eventually settled in Tyendinaga on the shores of the Bay of Quinte and along the Grand River in south-western Ontario.  The Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte, under the leadership of Captain John Deserontyon and others, arrived here on 22 May 1784.  They founded a church, St George's, just north of the landing site.  Eventually, the original log church was replaced by a stone church, Christ Church, in 1843, which was located at the crest of the hill north-west of the original church.  Today, the Cairn commemorates the landing site and gives a general indication of the location of the original church.

Since the Mohawk church at Fort Hunter had been called "Queen Anne's Chapel" there was a sense that the Mohawk church was closely tied to the Crown.  Although the foundation here was not formally a Chapel Royal in the sense that it is today, since it was a congregation of the Church of England in Canada (and latterly, the Anglican Church of Canada) and because the Mohawks were among the earliest group of Loyalists to settle in Upper Canada (now Ontario), it is easy to see why the church acquired this special status.  Over the years, the Incumbent of Christ Church has generally been appointed as "Chaplain to the Mohawks" and at times has had a ceremonial role in the community, for example, as the leader of prayers at the inauguration of a new Band Council.

To commemorate the special relationship between the Chapel Royal at Tyendinaga and the Crown, there are a number of royal gifts that have been given over the years.  These include:  a footed paten, chalice and flagon given by Queen Anne in 1711; a bell, the triptych (a three-panelled mural depicting the Apostles' Creed, the Ten Commandments, and the Lord's Prayer in the Mohawk language) and the original royal coat of arms (destroyed by fire in 1905) given by King George III in 1798; the Bible given by Queen Victoria in 1842; the current royal arms given by King George V, and the Bicentennial Chalice given by Queen Elizabeth II in 1984.


Royal Gifts (L-R; click on pictures to see larger version)
Queen Anne Silver Communion Service with Queen Elizabeth II Bicentennial Chalice,
Triptych, Bible, Royal Arms
 

In 2004, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II bestowed upon Christ Church the dignity of being a Chapel Royal.  Although it enjoys this honourable status, it is not a Chapel Royal under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of London and Dean of HM Chapels Royal, but is under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Ontario in whose diocese it resides.

In August 2007, the Bishop of London presented Christ Church, Her Majesty's Chapel Royal of the Mohawk, with the Order of St Mellitus, an honour of the Diocese of London, in commemoration of the upcoming three-hundredth anniversary of the visit of the four ambassadors ("Indian Kings") to the Court of Queen Anne at St James's Palace in April 1710.  To read more about the presentation of the Order, please click here.

At the Annual Meeting of Vestry on Sunday 1 February 2015, the Vestry passed a motion to worship from henceforth at All Saints' Church.  After a few years of endeavouring to get the congregation of the Chapel Royal on track in terms of finances and attendance, it was clear that the congregation was no longer viable.  The two congregations of the Parish of Tyendinaga now worship together and Christ Church will be the responsibility of the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte, who own it, to maintain and operate.  The Parish will use the church as required for weddings, funerals, and occasional celebrations such as the Mohawk Landing.

We are a parish of the Anglican Diocese of Ontario in the Anglican Church of Canada
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