The wooden frame church was built between 1822 and 1824 and dedicated to St John the Evangelist in 1828. The first rector, the Reverand Jonathan Shortt served the church with great energy from 1836 until his death in 1867.
The church grew quickly, requiring two major expansions. The first, in 1842, extended the church to the east and added galleries to three sides of the nave. In 1852 a second expansion included transepts to the north and south sides and installation of a Willis pipe organ, imported from England. But by 1855, it was again too small and required too much maintenance. Growth in Port Hope was occurring on the west side of the Ganaraska River, with the church building on the opposite side of the town. In 1865, a new location was purchased on Pine Street and a new Anglican Church of John the Evangelist opened in 1869. The frame building was used as a Parish Hall until 1871, then abandoned in disrepair.
In 1872, a group of parishioners petitioned the Diocese of Toronto to reopen the church as a new parish. After a quick restoration, the church was dedicated to St Mark’s in 1873. In 1925, the church was damaged in a devastating fire. St Mark’s rectory at 50 King Street was gifted to the church in 1949 but later sold and the current rectory at 51 King St purchased in 1956. The first Parish Hall opened in 1957. St Mark’s has survived a major fire, economic hardship and threatened closure thanks to parishioners such as the Right Honourable Vincent Massey who supported the church from the 1920s until his death and burial in St Mark’s cemetery in 1967.
To this day the church remains active in many areas–liturgical, architectural and in local outreach activities. For more of the church’s interesting history click here.