Dr. William Armstrong Hunter was born in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada, in 1855. He attended the University of Toronto and was awarded the gold medal in mental and moral philosophy upon graduation. He earned a Master of Arts at Union Theological Seminary in New York, and after ordination spent 18 years serving churches in Ontario. He earned his doctorate at Wesleyan University in 1896 and his thesis, “Evolution and Christianity,” was one of the first to espouse the scientific theory of evolution and urge the church to adopt it.
Poor health sent him to Denver seeking a warmer climate. There he obtained a Doctor of Divinity and served a local church for 10 years. In 1909, he moved further south to Riverside, where he became minister at Calvary Presbyterian. His residence, The Arches, on Mount Rubidoux Drive was the scene of ongoing hospitality for congregants and he conducted communicants’ classes for young people in his study.
Hunter had a deeply ecumenical spirit and held joint meetings of his congregation with Baptists and Congregationalists for summer evening services. Concerned about the deleterious effects of liquor and gambling on society, he urged the governor and the president of the state university to prohibit drinking at class functions. In 1918, he supported a request to federal legislators to enact Prohibition. Hunter’s health continued to deteriorate and he died in 1920.