Nestled in the trees along the North shore Kempenfelt Bay sits a moderate size church, that has stood since the cornerstone was laid in 1838. It took roughly four years to finish the construction of one of the most unique structures in Simcoe County, before the church was officially opened on February 27, 1842.

Mud Church

What makes this church so interesting is method of construction. St. Thomas’ Church is build with mud, also known as “Rammed Earth”. Maybe not mud in the traditional meaning of the word. It’s not just dirt and water, it is a mixture of wet clay, and chopped straw. Once mixed together the mud was then packed into forms. After the mixture had a chance to cure, it was covered in a layer of plaster to protect the building for the weather. Church of the Holy Cross (Stateburg, South Carolina) is the only other known example of the cob or “rammed earth” style church that can be found in North America.

The Land for the church was donated by Edward George O’Brien, who had moved from Thornhill to “The Woods” (later to be named Shanty Bay) in 1832. O’Brien’s move was prompted by his job as emigrant agent for Oro Township. During his time as emigrant agent for Oro he played a large role in the African Methodist Episcopal Church located about 10km from Shanty Bay, but more on that at a later date.

St. Thomas’ is located just south of Ridge Rd. In Shanty Bay is listed as a Historical Site of Ontario. The plaque stand about thirty feet from the South East corner of the church.