Some notes on time past by B. H. Gregg – September 1978


“I am but a stranger here, Heaven is my home.” This was a hymn sung during our first service in St. Andrew’s Church. It was evensong. My mother, sister, and I had arrived from England by sea the previous afternoon.

I have compiled, from the minute book of the Annual Meeting, a list of rectors, wardens, etc., up to 1978. Prior to 1939, the Rector of St. Andrew’s was the Rev. Morris Taylor (retired), the father of Mrs. Duncan Campbell and Miss Ethel Taylor. Rev. M. Taylor came to Hantsport in 1930 from Weymouth North. In earlier days, he had been an officer of the Army in India and his father a Governor of the Punjab. Rev. Morris Taylor died at the age of 92 on the 25th of January, 1959. On January 26, India became independent.

The Rev. John Sherren of Falmouth (Hantsport was a Mission Church) was in charge of St. Andrew’s during the late 1930s until 1940 when he became a naval chaplain during the second World War.

Rev. M. Taylor again ascended the‘Pulpit in 1941, until 1942, when the Rev. Hunt took over until 1944. Mr. Hunt was a retired bank manager who was subsequently ordained. He was very active.

In 1944, the Rev. John Godfrey (father of Rev. F. H. Godfrey, a naval chaplain who came to Hantsport in 1964) was the incumbent. He and Mrs. Godfrey lived in an apartment opposite the Church (the Hancock home, now owned by Curtis MacKinnon). It was an ideal arrangement for them and both they and the congregation were happy with his Ministry. He was from Prince Edward Island originally and supremely content in Hantsport. “I am glad to be back,” he said when I saw him the day after his vacation.

Up to this time, as far as I can see, most of its congregation came from outside the town, namely, Hants Border, Mount Denson, etc., but it was at this period that people began to come out of Halifax to live, among them were the Batemans, Robinsons and Sillerys, etc. George Bateman made a great contribution as choir master and lay reader and from this time the choir developed in strength under his leadership and discipline.

In 1949, St. Andrew’s became a self-supporting Parish. Archdeacon Weldon Mosher became rector and much work was done under the Church. A parish hall had begun there by Rev. John Sherren in 1939, which until then had been nothing more than a furnace room with an earthen floor. The present hall has evolved from this and, during the early 1950s, hacking old stone and pouring cement was much in evidence by the “slave labour” gangs, as we called ourselves.

In 1951, the Rev. W. Mosher went to Kentville and in 1952 the Parish was vacant. This was the time when the keystone of maintaining a Priest in Hantsport was a Rectory and this we had not got.

Somewhere around 1953, a start was made in providing a rectory when a house on Main Street, owned then by Garnet McDade, was bought. It was occupied by the Rev. Howard Greer. Previous to that, Rev. Digby Buxton, a bachelor, had boarded in the town. The Rev. H. Greer left to join the staff of Kings Collegiate School in Windsor. In 1956, a very old house that stood on the west side of the Church was bought and later the other home was sold. Now the problem was what to do with it. There was continual discussion (a) to build a new home or (b) to remodel the old. By talking for plenty of time the Congregation finally decided, in agreeable fashion, to build a new house. In 1958, the ancient building was moved away intact to a site on Willow Street and in 1959 a new rectory was occupied by the Rev. Gordon Pyke and his family. At the time of his arrival he was a deacon but, on completing his studies, was ordained a Priest in St. Andrew’s Church here.

The vacancy of eight months during 1958 was filled by St. Andrew’s lay readers and visiting clergy to celebrate Holy Communion and, if I remember rightly, was satisfactory in many ways.

In 1963, the Reverend Gordon Pyke was succeeded by the Rev. F. H. Godfrey, son of the former Rector, Rev. John Godfrey. Rev. F. H. Godfrey had completed twenty-five years as a naval chaplain. In May, 1977, due to ill health, he retired to live in Windsor, Nova Scotia, and was succeeded by Rev. Arthur E. Cuzner as Parish Priest.

The advent of the second World War in September, 1939, brought in a period of change. Previously, the simple rural way of life was prevalent and money relatively scarce as cash, but, with the printing presses beginning to roll and large borrowings, money became more in sight. In the 1930s the congregation used to get up plays for a one night production in the Foresters Hall (now the Union Building). The house was usually filled (and it was no use putting it on two nights). In preparation over about four weeks, attending rehearsals in various houses during the late winter, kept the small congregation in touch. Ticket of admission on play night was, at first, twenty-five cents and later was doubtfully raised to thirty-five cents. Cost of production was nil except for the books.

Until the coming of oil heating, keeping the church warm in winter was a great problem. Grates would burn out, the chimney would cause the furnace to smoke at times. In fact, one Easter service had to be cancelled due to smoke in the Church. To warm up the Church one had to start early and in those days we owed it to Messrs. Morgan, Veino and Hyson. There may be others I do not know, but I do know that R.P.V. was one of them and Warden for twenty-seven years.

Another antique that eventually became cantankerous was the organ (built by Kahn of Woodstock, Ontario). I do not know when it was installed but, sometime in the fifties, it was replaced by a Minshull Electronic (and no pumper was needed) which, soon after, was also replaced by the present Baldwin. The Kahn had no salvage value, but the decorative “organ pipes,” which were solely for appearance, were, after much discussion, retained. For this I am glad. They are one of the last original pieces put in by the founding fathers and mothers and mark the transition to electricity and the memory of those countless young and old people who laboured through the services behind closed doors at the pump handle.

In those days it was too often uncertain if an organist could be found for Sunday. I recall Mesdames Coffill, Kewley, Pope, Haliburton, and Dr. J. E. Pollard, until, in the late 1930s Miss Ethel Taylor arrived to play for many years and into the electric age.

Historically, I cannot detail the work of the various Church Guilds. Their importance is close to that of the vestry and the maintenance of Church worship would not have succeeded without their dedicated help.

Some of the families, it is interesting to note, who were of the congregation in the 1920s and are still represented in 1978 are: Alley, Burns, Chesley (represented by Oldershaw and Brown), Coldwell, Cunningham, Francis, Frittenburg, Gregg, Hicking, Haliburton, Morgan, Smith, Stevens, Veino, Webb (Mrs. Aliston Riley), and Whitman (Mrs. R. P. Veino and Mrs. K. Yeaton).

Of these families, Robert Burns and Thomas‘Morgan were prominent when St. Andrew’s was built. In 1968, after a successful career as a marine engineer and dockyard superintendent, George Burns, the grandson, retired to the original Burns’ home in Hantsport. For St. Andrew’s he built, in his basement, the Memorial Pulpit as well as many other additions to the work begun by his grandfather.

This concludes my historical sketch. The notes do not claim to be a complete record. Any  enlargement must be done by others, who remember with more specialized knowledge of the times, events and people. When one wearies of an age of plastics it is a relief to turn to solid oak.

B. H. Gregg

September 1978