The Little Dutch Church was established in 1753 by German-speaking settlers in Halifax’s northern suburb (just beyond the city wall that once ran down roughly where Cogswell Street is now). It is placed at the corner of a graveyard, land that was given by the colonial government to that German community for the burial of their dead. The church itself is placed over a mass grave of those German settlers that died of epidemic disease in the first years of settlement.
Between 1750 and 1752, approximately 1500 German-speaking settlers, so-called “Foreign Protestants,” mostly drawn from villages near the Rhine river, were brought to Halifax as part of the Board of Trade and Plantations’ plan to establish five fortified, Protestant settlements (Halifax, Dartmouth, Bedford, Lawrencetown, and Lunenburg) that the British could use to challenge French power in what would become eastern Canada.
Consecrated to Saint George on Easter Monday, 1761, Little Dutch Church itself was a focal point of that German-speaking community. When the community began to outgrow the small building in the 1790’s, plans were made for the construction of a much larger, more architecturally ambitious house of worship one block south on Brunswick Street: Saint George’s Round Church.
From the completion of the Round Church until 1887, the Little Dutch Church served as home of Saint George’s Sabbath School, and then Saint George’s Charitable School. In 1887, Saint George’s Charitable School moved to a newly-constructed building on Maitland Street, opposite the Round Church. That building (many renovations later) is still in use as the church hall.
Today, the Little Dutch Church is used for worship during the summer months. We are currently in the middle of a multi-year project to restore the historic dry-stone wall that borders the Brunswick and Gerrish Street sides of the graveyard.