History

  • 1st Anglican Priest in Area: 1750
  • 1st Recorded Service: 1752
  • Church Erected at West Amherst: 1822
  • Consecrated: 1827
  • Church Moved to Present Site: 1846
  • Consecrated: 1847

Brief Historical Sketch

In 1750, one year after the founding of Halifax, the Society for the Propogation of the Gospel sent an Anglican priest to Fort Lawrence and the Amherst area. The first recorded visit dates back to June, 1752, when the Rev. Thomas Wood held a service in the Chignecto area attended by 400 people, at which 27 children were baptized.

One of the stories told of an early missionary, which demonstrates the frontier spirit, is that of the Rev. John Eagleson, who came to the isthmus and region in 1769. He remained in the area for approximately two decades. first as a Presbyterian minister, and then as an Anglican priest. Ever fond of a “drop”, merry tales are quoted of pranks played on him by the officers of Fort Cumberland. In 1776 Mr. Eagleson was taken prisoner by a party of Eddy rebels and taken to Massachusetts Bay. Sixteen months later he escaped and returned to minister to the congregations of Westmorland and Cumberland until 1781. Having learned of a plot to recapture him, he walked, in the dead of winter and in over two feet of snow, to Halifax, where he “in due course arrived safely though greatly fatigued”.

The Rev. John Burnyeat was instrumental in having the first church built in Amherst, located at the site of what is now the Anglican cemetery on West Victoria Street. The church was built by George Revelle, and completed in 1822. James S. Morse was the chief benefactor and the inscription on his tombstone reads “erected on this ground a church to the worship of Almighty God at Amherst, at an expense of $3,200.00”.

On September 22, 1827 :Christ Church was consecrated by the Right Rev. John Inglis, Bishop of Nova Scotia. He was the son of the Rt. Rev. Charles Inglis, first colonial bishop, whose jurisdiction included all British possessions
in North America and who was the onetime rector of Trinity Church in New York. In his day one reached Amherst by sailing via Canso and the Northumberland Strait, disembarking at Baie Verte and driving to Sackville and thence to Amherst.

Christ Church has been noted for some lengthy rectorships. Among them was that of the Rev. George Townshend, who at the age of 23 years was assigned, on August 15, 1834, to minister to the Amherst parish. His ministry spanned a period of 61 years. In 1846, during his rectorship, Christ Church was relocated at its present Victoria Square site, on land donated by Kniffen Purdy. The original bricks and building materials were incorporated into the exterior
of the structure. The cornerstone was laid by the Chief Justice of Nova Scotia, Sir Brenton Haliburton.-at the first service on Christmas Day, 1846.

The relocated Christ Church was consecrated by Bishop John Inglis on June 27,1847. In 1877 the Church was enlarged, improved and the beautiful chancel was added. Christ Church became known throughout the diocese as one of the model and resplendent churches of the province.

The altar is a memorial to the Rev. Canon George Townshend, dedicated in 1896, and is one slab of Tennessee marble, supported by columns of numidian marble from North Africa. The reredos is in memory of Mrs. George Townshend (Elizabeth), daughter of the Hon. Alexander Stewart, C.B. Both were designed by P.W. St. George, C.E., Canon Townshend’s son-in-law, and the city engineer of Montreal. The carving and detailed workmanship was done by the internationally recognized sculptor Harry Beaumont of Montreal, distinguished for his work on the Canada Life Building. The reredos is made of Caen stone from France, quarried near that town in Normandy.

The present organ is a tracker-action organ built by Casavant Freres, which was given by Beatrice Knight Carter and dedicated on March 15, 1964 in memory of those “who sacrificed their lives during the two World Wars.” The St. George window located at the entrance to the nave is also a war memorial in memory of all those who served their country. The stained glass windows dating back to 1843 were given as memorials to the Townshend, Stewart, Dickie and Bliss families, all active members of Christ Church. The oldest window dated 1843, came from the original church in West Amherst, and was moved to the new structure.

The pulpit and lectern were given by parishioners in memory of the Rev. A.J. Cresswell and Canon Townshend, respectively.

Christ Church Cemetery, located on West Victoria Street, was purchased in 1826 from Charles Baker for the sum of £45, and consecrated on July 28, 1835.

Among the interesting inscriptions in the cemetery is a tombstone erected to Col. Joseph Morse, a soldier of the French and Indian Wars which reads: ” …supply officer at Oswego 1750. Taken prisoner and sent to France, recaptured by a British Cruiser. Presented at court when King George II presented him with a sword and other marks of honour.”

The parish hall was designed by William Critchlow Harris, A.R.C.A. renowned architect of many Anglican churches in the diocese. Some of these include All Souls’ Chapel, Charlottetown, P.E.I.; All Saints’ Anglican Church, Springhill; St. James’ Anglican Church, Mahone Bay; and St. Thomas’ Anglican Church, Long Creek, P.E.I. The cornerstone of the Parish House was laid August 28th, 1895 by Mary Smith “relict of the late Robert K. Smith, 86 years of age and the oldest communicant of the parish” and dedicated on December 30th, 1895 by the Rt. Rev. Frederick Courtney, Bishop of Nova Scotia.

“Christ is made the sure foundation. Christ the head and cornerstone.”

Missionaries in the Chignecto Area

The first resident missionary in Amherst was the Rev. John Eagleson.
Thomas Shreve, Parrsboro 1791
E.C. Willoughby 1794
John Millege 1798
Roger Aitken 1818
William Twining 1818
John Bumy~t (Builder of the first Christ Church)..1820

Rectors of Christ Church

The Rev. J.W.D. Gray 1823-1827
The Rev. W.W. Walker..
The Rev. W.B. King.
The Rev. Richard B. Wiggins 1828-1829
The Rev. George Jarvis 1829-1830
The Rev. Richard B. Wiggins 1830-1834
The Rev. Canon George Townshend 1834-1895
The Rev. Canon V.E. Harris (Vicar) 1883-1895
The Rev. Canon V.E. Harris (Rector) 1895-1900
The Rev. A.J. Cresswell 1901-1911
The Rev. C. Quinton Warner 1911-1912
The Rev. Horace E. Dibblee 1913-1938
The Venerable J.E. Sheehy 1939-1965
The Rev. Canon S.J.P. Davies 1965-1969

The Rev. H.M.D. Westin 1969-1974

The Rev. David S. Myles 1975-2002

The Rev. Charlotte Ross (Associate) non-stipendiary 2002-

Archdeacon Glenn Eason 2003-