St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church

“Churches By The Sea” by M. Allen Gibson
Published 27 Jun 1959 – The Chronicle Herald

Excepting the work in the Shubenacadie area there was, until less than five years ago, but one Roman Catholic church in Hants County. That was the church of St. John the Evangelist which, since its construction in 1898, has fulfilled an important role in the religious life of the town of Windsor. During the past few years, however, two other churches have been built in the county. Significantly, both of these, one at Mount Uniacke and one at Hantsport, are the result of the outreach of the Windsor congregation and its energetic pastor, Rev. A. J. Laba.

Rev. Joseph Flemming was, for many years, the parish priest at Windsor. When failing health curtailed his activities, Rev. Ronald Doherty took up the parochial duties and to him belongs the credit for extending the witness of the Roman Catholic Church to Hantsport. At first, the Mass was celebrated in private homes but later, the facilities of the town’s Memorial Centre were used for that purpose. The congregation’s need for a church dedicated exclusively to divine worship was not long in becoming apparent and steps to secure such a building were taken without delay.

The site of the church is centrally located near the wee burn that marks the boundary between Hants and Kings Counties. The land was a gift of Hantsport industrialist and philanthropist, Mr. R. A. Jodrey. However, in order to provide parking space and room for future expansion the congregation purchased some of the surrounding land to make a total holding of about seven acres.

The work of building proceeded throughout the Summer months and into the Autumn of 1955. The W. Eric Whebby Construction Company of Dartmouth, was the builder. Although the formal dedication of the structure was not held until November 13, 1955, the church was sufficiently completed to permit Father Laba to celebrate the first Mass within its walls on Sunday morning, October 16. This was a Mass of Thanksgiving for successful completion of the church.

Although this has not the appearance of a large edifice, it is surprisingly roomy. There is accomodation for well over a hundred worshippers and the basement has been completed as a hall for social and other congregational gatherings. A belfry and cross lend an ecclesiastical air and announce to all who pass by that this wayside building has a distinct character and mission. For the tower speaks of the uplift that the church would give men and the cross, in whatever form it may be presented, is the eternal sign of God’s suffering love and His redemptive plan.

In naming the new church, tribute was paid to the Virgin Mother of our Lord. The Mother of Jesus is unquestionably the most outstanding and distinguished woman in the history of mankind. There is, then, no honour too great to be bestowed upon her, a fact which was recognized when, in humble adoration, a devout people associated her name with the place of worship which their hands had made. Here then, in a busy community is a little church which, by its very name, would remind a calloused world of the faith and love of one who stood with John, the disciple, beneath the cross of Jesus.

Photo 2014

Avon United Church (formerly St. James United; originally Trinity Methodist Church)

“Churches By The Sea” by M. Allen Gibson
Published 2 Mar 1957 – The Chronicle Herald

Methodism had its beginnings in Hants County with the arrival of immigrants from Yorkshire in 1773. These early comers settled in the vicinity of Newport. Among them was one John Smith, who, in the homes of the settlers conducted the first Methodist services in that part of Nova Scotia.

The work grew and Methodism spread into adjacent communities. The years between 1839 and 1843 saw extensive revivals which so strengthened the cause in Hants and Kings counties that new circuits had to be organized. The circuit that included Hantsport was organized in 1839 and, for a time, received the pastoral oversight of the second man at Windsor. Indeed, Falmouth and Hantsport continued to be supplied from Windsor until 1864 when Falmouth appears in the records as head of a circuit over which Rev. Andrew Gray was the pastor. This circuit name was changed to Hantsport in 1873.

It was during the ministry of Rev. Andrew Gray that the Methodist church was dedicated in Hantsport. That was in August 1865 and the name Trinity Wesleyan Church was adopted.

The Presbyterian cause in Hantsport was never very large. The first Presbyterian minister to visit and hold services in the town appears to have been Rev. John Logan Murdock who served with distinction during his forty year pastorate in Windsor. Following his retirement in 1870 he continued to live in Windsor until his death eight years later. He was laid to rest in the cemetery at Windsor where a handsome obelisk commemorates his life and work.

During the latter part of the nineteenth century, theological students spent their summers ministering to the Hantsport Presbyterians who were members of the Windsor church. Then, just before the turn of the century, the work was strengthened by the coming of several new families to the town.

In 1899, a Presbyterian congregation was organized in Hantsport and in 1900 a church was built under the leadership of Rev. Henry Dickie, the Presbyterian minister at Windsor. In 1911, Rev. A. B. Dickie settled in Hantsport and continued as pastor there until 1925.

On the tenth day of June, 1925, the two congregations in Hantsport became one. The same thing was happening all across Canada. For several years a movement toward a united Canadian Church had been irresistibly gaining impetus. The consummation of the movement was attained in 1925 when Canada’s Methodists, Congregationalists, and a large segment of the Presbyterians entered into the fellowship of the United Church of Canada.

Since 1925, Hantsport’s united congregation has been worshipping in the former Methodist church. The Presbyterian church was disposed of and converted for other purposes. At the annual meeting in 1942, the congregation chose the name of St. James.

Today’s minister of St. James’ Church also cares for the churches at Mount Denson and Falmouth. Sunday after Sunday he journeys from one community to another as did the pioneer ministers who preceded him. There is much that has changed in this busy industrial and agricultural area. But there is also much that is the same. To him, as to the first ministers, the errand and the message are as unchanged as the gentle hills which dip down to the tides and currents of the Avon.


UC Church At Hantsport Marks 100th Anniversary
published 30 Sep 1965 – The Chronicle Herald

HANTSPORT – On Sunday, a centennial anniversary service was held in the St. James United Church on Prince Street here.

The speaker was the Rev. Neil A. MacLeod, Fairview, former pastor of the congregation. Rev. H. H. Blanchard, Hantsport, also took part in the service.

At the reception which followed in the church hall greetings were brought by Rev. F. H. Godfrey, Rector of St. Andrew’s Anglican Church. R. J. McGrath, representing St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church, brought personal greetings from Rev. Father Joseph E. Mills, who was unable to be present. G. MacDonald and C. R. Manning brought greetings from the Mount Denson and Falmouth churches, which are a part of the Hantsport charge.

Letters of greetings were read from Rev. Gordon Gower of the Hantsport Baptist Church and from Rev. Thomas W. Hodgson, Rev. John W. Barbour, Rev. Walter G. Davies, and Rev. John Jarvie, former ministers of the congregation.

Hantsport Baptist Church

A history of the Hantsport Baptist Church by W. A. Porter was published in 1894.