The Church of the Good Shepherd

The Church of the Good Shepherd

The Church of the Good Shepherd

Tidnish, Nova Scotia

Laying of Cornerstone: July 13th, 1892

First Recorded Service: August 21st, 1892

Consecration: October 25th, 1892

Several years prior to the death of Canon George Townshend in 1895, Vicar V.E. Harris of Amherst saw the necessity of having a place of worship for the workers during the construction of the Chignecto Ship Railway, which commenced in 1888 with the dream of Canadian engineer, H.G.C. Ketchum, Master Mariner and Shipbuilder.

A letter, bearing the signature of Miss F. Townshend of Bushey, Herts., England, stated ”A church at the opposite end of the railway (Tidnish) is sorely needed. At present some of the people meet in a kitchen to worship God. They have among themselves raised in various ways 100 pounds and a site has been given, but 400 pounds are needed before the work can be commenced. Then the church must be furnished with altar, font, etc.”

“In a short time the population of Tidnish will doubtless be tenfold what it is at present. Today is the church’s opportunity … to lay a good foundation for the time to come.”

So the foundation stone of the Church of the Good Shepherd was laid on July 13th, 1892 on land which was given by the Hon. Robert B. Dickey, a Father of Confederation, and a member of the Canadian Senate. The laying of the cornerstone was performed by Mrs. Ketchum, wife of H.G.C. Ketchum, the promoter of the Chignecto Marine Transport Railway then under construction. Addresses were given by local dignitaries, including Stephen Oxley, Councillor of the County of Cumberland. The document was signed by Frederick Courtney, Bishop of Nova Scotia. The building committee was comprised of Edward Church and Robert Baxter, with Jacob Baxter as the master builder.

The first recorded service was August 21, 1892 with lay reader H. I. Lynds from Joggins officiating. A prededication announcement prepared by the Rev. V.E. Harris stated in part: “None of the seats in the Church of the Good Shepherd will be rented or sold, for every Church like God’s love, like Christ’s religion, like the gifts of the Holy Spirit, like Heaven itself, should be free and open to all.”

The consecration of the Church of the Good Shepherd occurred on Tuesday, October 25, 1892, by the Rt. Rev. Frederick Courtney, with Matins at 11 o’clock. At 3 p.m. a service of Confirmation and the Eucharist was celebrated, there being 20 communicants. Within the parish of Amherst’s records there has been written: “The beautiful little church was crowded at the time of its consecration and the services were most impressive.”

The Amherst Daily News edition of September 8th, 1896 carried the following headline -“H.G.C. Ketchum, C.E., Dead” -“The citizens of Amherst were astounded this afternoon that H.G.C. Ketchum, the indefatigable promoter of the Chignecto Marine Railway, has dropped dead at the Amherst Hotel. It appears that Mr. Ketchum had been in his usual health until about 3:30 p.m. o’clock this afternoon. While sitting in front of the hotel he complained of feeling unwell. Dr. McQueen was summoned but was just in time to see Mr. Ketchum give one or two gasps and suddenly expire.”

goodshepherd2Mrs. Sarah (Milner) Ketchum, his widow, was named an executor of his will. The bequests in his will were many and philanthropic in character. Five hundred dollars was left to “The Church of England at Tidnish, Nova Scotia, for a Bell and Tower … All of these bequests to be carried out within six months of his death.”

The bell for the tower was cast by the Menelley Bell Company at Troy, N.Y., and was a memorial to H.G.C. Ketchum. Inscribed upon the bell is the biblical sentence from Proverbs, Chapter 10 verse 7: “The memory of the just is blessed.” The consecration service was conducted by the Rev’d Cecil E. Wiggins, Rector of St. Paul’s Church, Sackville, N. B., and St. Anne’s Church, Westcock, N.B., during June 1897. The memorial window, above the altar, portrays “Christ The Good Shepherd”, and was dedicated later.

Mr. Ketchum bequeathed to his trustees his freehold lot of land at Tidnish, where he desired to be buried “in front of the scene of my labors and I wish care to be taken of the place and that the said lot may not pass out of their hands or control during their lifetime.” Some years later, due to the erosion of the land by the tides, his body was reinterred in the Memorial Cemetery at Sackville, N.B., where Mrs. Ketchum is buried.
The interior of the church is finished throughout -side walls and ceiling -with fine oak and cedar sheathing beautifully panelled. The electric lights, installed a few years ago, are hidden above the crossbeams and shed a warm and soft atmosphere. The original oil lamps remain on the side walls and chancel and are still used at the Evening Prayer services.

The altar, solid and secure, is believed to be the design of Robert Baxter and Jacob Baxter.

One of the church walls was rebuilt in September 1964 which necessitated the removal of the cornerstone. The original paper deposited there had almost become illegible due to the elements. Another copy was made, attached to the original paper and replaced in the cornerstone on September 28th, 1964, bearing the signature of John Earle Sheehy, Rector of Christ Church, Amherst, N.S.

“The place where you are standing is holy ground.” (Ex. 3:5)