Fire at historic Hamilton church leads to arson charges


Published November 15, 2023 at 7:46 am

Police have laid arson charges against a man after a Hamilton church nearly went up in smoke last month.

The incident happened around 7:00 a.m. on Oct. 5 when the Hamilton Police Service said officers were called to the First Unitarian Church of Hamilton on Dundurn Street South.

When officers got to the scene they found a smouldering recycling bin beside a gas metre, and said police and fire crews worked together to stop the “potential disaster.”

Investigators worked with the church’s property management team and community members to identify a suspect, and police say a 44-year-old man was arrested in connection to the fire last week.

Hamilton police have charged Robert Douglas, 44, of Hamilton with one count each of possession of incendiary material and arson – disregard for human life.

No additional details about the accused have been released.

Police thanked members of the Hamilton community for their assistance and said incidents of the fire “have a profound impact, emphasizing the importance of collaboration between police and residents in maintaining the safety and security of our cherished places of worship.”

“Our community’s safety is of paramount importance, and incidents like these underscore the vigilance needed to safeguard our places of worship,” police said in a release.

Investigators are urging anyone with information on this incident to contact the Hamilton Police Service by calling (905)-540-3819. You can also leave an anonymous tip by contacting Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or online at

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