From house of worship to home for seven

Detail of the stained glass window above the former altar area.

This weekend’s Spectator featured an inspiring front-page story: Tao Drayton and Andresa Sisson, the new owners of St. John’s Anglican in rural Haldimand, are converting the 130-year-old church into a home for their family of seven.

Exterior of St. John’s Anglican Church in the village of York. Photo: Cathie Coward.
Tao Drayton and Andresa Sisson walk through a section of the cemetery that they now administer. Photo: Cathie Coward.

From J.P. Antonacci’s article:

“The workmanship that would go into a building like this now would be substantial, let alone 130 years ago,” Drayton said.

Located steps from the Grand River on an acre of green space, the church closed in 2008 due to dwindling attendance, with parishioners finding new spiritual homes in nearby Caledonia and Cayuga.

Despite sitting idle since then, the space still casts a spell.

“There’s a certain smell of a church. There’s a quietness. You don’t hear the road,” Sisson said. “And it was well-loved. So calm. The ceiling and the light and the openness was just magic.”

Drayton, a contractor, had always dreamed of living in a converted church.

But that was out of the question.

“Don’t even say it,” Drayton said, recoiling at the suggestion.

“This is over 100 years of people’s goals and prayers and love,” Sisson added. “So much happened here.”

Spectator print edition: “A village church resurrected” (March 5, 2022, A1, A8–9) | online: “A village church resurrected: Toronto family turning shuttered Haldimand County place of worship into home”

The Hamilton Spectator (est. 1846) is published by Metroland Media Group, a division of Torstar.

Photos: Cathie Coward.

Tao Drayton and Andresa Sisson in the church they have purchased to convert to their home in York. Photo: Cathie Coward.
The large stained glass window at the back of the church. Photo: Cathie Coward.
Andresa stands at the island in their partially constructed kitchen. Tao, who has his own renovation business, found the large kitchen at a Habitat for Humanity ReStore and is adapting it for their new home. Photo: Cathie Coward.
Tao and York resident Mike Kolne who is a volunteer grounds keeper for the cemetery that they now administer. Photo: Cathie Coward.
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