Believer’s Pavilion

Looking at the 1895 Niagara-on-the-Lake tourist map on the wall at the Niagara Historical Society, I noticed near the waterfront a small area marked ‘Believer’s Pavilion’.

Having caught my attention, I began to ask Sarah and Amy if they knew what this was. Apparently it wasn’t something well-documented. I began to search for information about it and came up with nothing.

If I recall correctly, a research request sent to my email shortly after began to connect the dots. The individual was looking for more information on the Niagara Bible Society and I began to look into it.

Turns out that there were large gatherings in Niagara-on-the-Lake around this time, where people preached, interpreted and studied The Bible. I discovered that the Niagara Bible Society was also known as the Believer’s Society for Bible Study (or something along those lines). This altered my search terms in the museum’s database, and in the index of relevant books.

Soon I had uncovered some approximate dates for this society’s gathering’s in Niagara along with their location, at the Queen’s Royal Hotel, which was attached to the original Believer’s Pavilion in the same 1895 map. I was close.

Flipping through the pages of the extant Queen’s Royal ledger book, I encountered a page with scribbled handwriting tallying the materials required to construct a pavilion at the hotel that was being financed by the Believer’s Society and alas, we discovered another forgotten part of Niagara-on-the-Lake’s history.

On June 25, 2012 Sarah Ferguson’s article about the discovery was published in the Niagara Advance, along with my photo, and I felt like a local historical hero.

Looking for Clues

With the Memories of Niagara project successfully wrapped up and on-display, I was able to continue some volunteer work at the Niagara Historical Museum.
I really looked forward to my weekly shift, where I would catalogue material or interact with researchers by phone, email or in-person and provide assistance if possible.

Driving into NOTL was pleasant, and the relaxed atmosphere at the museum was a stark change from my previous work experiences. I loved it.

The interest people had in finding historical information was pretty steady. They contacted the museum wanting to find out more about their home, their family history, or general interest in military history, economics, community organizations etc. As I looked into each request, a snowball effect occurred. Looking for a specific document or photograph, my attention would be caught by unrelated material stored nearby. Anything I thought remotely useful or interesting I copied down, vowing to look more deeply into the subject if time allowed.

Slowly, I built a repertoire of historical information and became increasingly informed about the museum’s holdings.

Soon, I was being paid for my work, landing a job in the summer of 2012. This coincided with the War of 1812 Bicentennial, which meant I was kept very busy for the next few months.