A HISTORY OF THE ANGLICAN COMMUNITY OF COLE HARBOUR
Anglicans have been worshiping in Cole Harbour since 1794, first under the direction of the Reverend Joshua Wingate Weeks. Our history as a community, however, had it’s origins 44 years earlier when the British founded Halifax.
Needing agricultural settlements to support the population, the land where now stands Lawrencetown was cleared in 1752. Subsequently, it is believed that a road was cut through the Cole Harbour area in 1754 for the first settlers. The present day Cole Harbour Road follows approximately the same route. The farmland, however, was better in the Cole Harbour area so vast land grants were given to influential citizens. For example, in 1765, Benjamin Green and others received a 3,000-acre land grant. In 1781, George Bissett was given a license to occupy land on the harbour. Today, Bissett Road attests to his family’s presence. Other settlers included the family names of Conrad, Giles, Turner, Morash and Settle. These families are still to be found in Cole Harbour and many landmarks testify to their significant presence.
It was to this community that Mr. Weeks came to serve as an extension of his mission as the first Rector of St. John’s Parish in Preston. In 1794, he reported to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel that 12 families were living here.
Needing a roof under which to worship, local tradition holds that Col. John Stuart made available a sheep barn for a school in the early 1800’s. The school was also used for services and this became the Anglican community’s first home. The Reverend Charles Inglis, Rector of Christ Church in 1817, reported that as many as a hundred people crowded into this small building for services.
The Rectors of St. John’s served this area until 1826 when Cole Harbour became part of Christ Church, Dartmouth. Soon thereafter, the Anglican community was able to worship in their second home, the Meeting House on the crest of Long Hill. While it appears to have been the Methodists who provided the driving force in building the little church in 1830, all denominations worshipped there. According to Mrs. Nickerson (nee Turner), Sunday School was at 10 o’clock in the morning, Methodist services were always in the evening and the Church of England service was a 3 o’clock in the afternoon. One Sunday a month there was no service in the Meeting House and everyone went to the evening service in the Church of England, often gathering in a neighbour’s house after church for a singsong around a piano and perhaps a meal.
The ministers were paid very meagre sums and often the offerings were in kind. Mrs. Rosemary Eaton of the Cole Harbour Heritage Society tells us that one minister was reported as having remarked that one year “was a terrible year for turnips”, there being little else. In 1835, George Morash, Jas. Bissett Jr. and W. Lawlor were appointed to raise money to help support the minister of the parish. A memorandum records that Cole Harbour was assessed 5 pounds as their contribution towards parish expenses.
This association with Christ Church meant even greater distances to be traveled by the ministers. In 1831, the Reverend M. B. Desbrisay conducted services at Cole Harbour and other churches. He would travel from Dartmouth to Eastern Passage to Cole Harbour and thence home; a horseback ride of 20 miles in all weathers. It was on just such a long journey to visit a sick parishioner that Mr. Desbrisay died as a result of a fall from his horse.
The Reverend Emery Harris recorded in his History of St. Andrew’s Anglican Church that by 1869, the people of Eastern Passage, Cow Bay and Cole Harbour decided the Parish of Dartmouth was too large for one man to handle and that a new parish should be formed. On July 13, 1870, the resolution to become the Parish of Eastern Passage was passed. With the approval of the Bishop, the new parish became a reality with the Reverend Charles Burn as the first Rector.
Early 1871 saw the cornerstone of the new church building being laid at the corner of what is now Cole Harbour Road and John Stuart Drive. On November 24, 1872, the building was consecrated and given the name of St. Andrew’s Church. Finally, after 78 years of worshipping in a school and then the Meeting House, the Anglican community of Cole Harbour had its third home which was it’s own.
In 1950, St. Andrew’s became part of the Parish of Westphal and then passed to the Parish of the Holy Spirit in 1957. It was not until 1982 that St. Andrew’s became a Parish in it’s own right. It’s first Rector, Father Wayne G. Lynch, became the first full time priest to minister at St. Andrew’s, beginning with us in 1980.
As the community of Cole Harbour grew, so did the Anglican community. The farmland once occupied by those early settlers fast disappeared with the development of BelAyr in 1959, Colby Village in 1970 and Forest Hills in 1971. In order to accommodate this growth, St. Andrew’s was forced to seek a fourth home. In 1980 the Family Eucharist and Christian Education classes were moved to Col. John Stuart School, once again giving evidence of our links with the past. Further evidence of these historical ties is the home of Mrs. Margie Bishop, which stands on the same site where Col. Stuart once lived.
We worship today in our fifth home, dedicated to God on June 6th, 1987. Three years later, in 1990, Father Melvin Langille arrived as our second Rector. He was followed by Father Peter MacDonald, who served as Priest-in-Charge for a year before Canon David Reid’s arrival in January 1998.
The face of St. Andrew’s has changed greatly as it struggled to grow to meet the needs of its’ worshipping community. One thing should never change … the faith and strength of the earliest worshipping community must stand as a model for us today. As the early pioneers settled the land and built their community through faith and hard work, our Anglican community today must continue to build the Family of God through faith and loving ministry.
History of The Church of Saint Andrew
The Anglican community in Cole Harbour started a mission in 1794. At that time and for many years later, the worship and Sunday School were held in several places.
Moving from individuals’ homes, to community school, to the farming communities’ hall, which still stands today overlooking the Cole Harbour dyke area, our Anglican community finally acquired land and built our own church building in 1871. This is located at the corner of Cole Harbour Road and John Stewart Drive and is used regularly for services throughout the week. At the time of construction, we were part of the Parish of St. Peters, Eastern Passage and remained with them until 1950 when we became attached to St. Luke’s, Westphal. In 1957 we again moved to become part of the Parish of Holy Spirit in Dartmouth.
During the 1970’s a rapid growth period was experienced in our residential community and the resulting parish needs were addressed on February 3, 1980, when the Diocese assigned a full time priest. Our membership consisted of 113 families and it seemed we were not only finally in control of our own destiny, but the physical and spiritual growth we were experiencing was such that the contemporary service moved to the gymnasium of John Stewart School. The contemporary service, containing guitars, new music and the new Eucharistic rights, attracted a large and very enthusiastic congregation.
As a result, it is now our main family service of the week. The 8:00am said Eucharist and the 11:00am Book of Common Prayer service continued in the regular church building. With the onslaught of new members, lay participation became a necessity and we saw significant changes in the service with servers, readers and two choirs. Committees responded by becoming very active meeting the needs of our new mission. The Baptism Committee for example, now became involved in heightening the awareness and importance of this Sacrament to all, including instruction to parents, spouses and members to be baptised.
Our numbers had reached about 170 identifiable givers by the date of our incorporation, March 1, 1982. Our boundaries were now clearly defined with the mutual consent of our neighbouring parishes and the Bishop. Growth in the area and in our own Christian community continued to escalate. As a result of our members, and the good stewardship of our congregation, we finally adopted a budget, January 1, 1984, free of grants from the Diocese. This meant we reached a self supporting stage of our parish life, a feat which has not been equalled by some of the older, well established parishes in our Diocese. The last significant historical event to date was on November 30, 1984 when we installed our first rector, the Rev. W.G. Lynch.
PRELIMINARY OUTLINE OF CHURCH HISTORY
1750 St. Paul’s records show that the first church services in Dartmouth were conducted by Mr.Tutty. In the fall of 1750, officiating in the open air. This continued until May 1751 when Indian raids forced him to stop. In 1751, he reported having administered Holy Communion to those palisading Dartmouth. This appeared to have continued until “the territory of Dartmouth, Preston and Cole Harbour was set apart in 1792 as a separate parish” (14).
1780-1781 Dr. Breynton, St. Paul’s reports a drop in inhabitants suggesting many have moved to
the fishing villages or agriculture districts of the province. Do records from St. Paul’s
suggest any movement to Cole Harbour?
1788-1791 rev. J.W. Weeks resided in Halifax and assisted at St. Paul’s. According to the latter’s
history, he held occasional services in the territory that would become the Parish of
St. John’s (14).
Sept. 1792 Rev. J.W. Weeks commenced work in “Parish of Preston” (11).
Nov.3, 1792 Preston, Lawrencetown and Dartmouth officially erected as one parish.
Summer 1793 Bishop Inglis formally inducts Rev. Weeks as rector of new parish.
Feb.21, 1794 S.P.G. in London formally approves Bishop Inglis’s decision.
May 1, 1794 Rev. Weeks wrote to S.P.G. reporting “the mission consists of four towns, Dartmouth is
the principal which consists of fifty families; Preston has 15, Cole Harbour 12 and
Lawrencetown 15” (11).
St. John’s history states that he wrote reporting that he served these areas, thus
implying active involvement. Christ Church’s history appears to quote from actual
letter as above. Meaning is quite different.
“Despite the fact that nominally the parish was supposed to include Dartmouth,
Preston, and Lawrencetown, the latter community was not visited by Rev. Weeks
until July 1794, ‘thro an almost impassable road and preached there to 70 or 80
persons’. Weeks thought the crowd would have been larger but bad weather kept
many at home. While there he baptized 12 children, which was the first time that
sacrament had ever been performed in Lawrencetown. He promised that
congregation that he would try to minister to them as soon as possible, but the poor
roads made it extremely difficult for him to reach them and utterly discouraged the
people of Lowrencetown from going to St. John’s.” (7).
“That winter...Inglis now realized that the parish of St. John’s was a total failure...
people too poor to contribute to its upkeep...the church was built in such a poor
location that the people of Lawrencetown could not use it and the situation was not
much better for the people of Cole Harbour. The people of Dartmouth found it more
convenient to attend services conducted by St. Paul’s clergy then to go to St. John’s ,
thus leaving the church only useful for the people of Preston. But even for them...
almost inaccessible in winter. Bishop Inglis thought it would be best then for the
Weeks family if he were to close the mission.” (17)
Dec. 1795 Rev. Weeks moved to Guysborough Parish.
1795 or 1796 Rev. Benjamin Gerrish Gray inducted in Parish of St. John. (11)
1796 Rev. Gray wrote to the S.P.G. that he had 95 families in the parish: “forty-eight Church
of England, twenty-five Roman Catholic, twelve Presbyterian, five Quaker and four Sandemanian.” (7) “most of them being outside the Preston area.” (7)
“main job was to be the missionary to the Maroons, for which he received one hundred
pounds a year. The role of missionary to the Parish of St. John’s was only given to him
because he was in the area...he received only thirty pounds a year for this position. (7)
Rev. Gray’s first report to the S.P.G. stated that, like his predecessor, he was having
trouble reaching Lawrencetown and Cole Harbour, and , in fact, had not visited them yet. (7)
1798-1799 “...there were seven regular communicants at St. John on the Hill...Gray informed the
Society that it was still extremely difficult for him to reach Lawrencetown and in the
Winter of 1799 he was unable to perform services in Dartmouth due to there being
No place available for such a purpose.” (7)
August 1800 The Maroons sailed for Sierra Leone, therefore Rev. Gray lost his salary as their
Missionary. His 30 pounds from the S.P.G. would not be enough for him to live on.
Late 1801 Bishop Inglis closes the mission and sends Rev. Gray to Windsor. “Indeed, there was no sense, at this point, in keeping the parish going, even if there had
been a better financial situation. St. John on the Hill was called a parish church, yet it
could only effectively be used by the people of Preston. The people of Lawrencetown
could essentially not reach it without great difficulty and the parishioners in Cole
Harbour were in a similar plight.” (7)
1801-1817 Parish of St. John’s remained closed. Anglicans would have to travel to Dartmouth
where St. Paul’s clergy performed services about once a month.
Sept.24, 1817 The first baptism refistered in the records of Christ Church, Dartmouth was John Joseph
Bissett of Cole Harbour. “...this service was performed before the church building was
completed and therefore must have taken place in the home.” (11)
1818 Christ Church completed.
1820 “According to Rev. Ingles report to the S.P.G. in 1820, the majority of people who were
attending Christ Church were not residents of Dartmouth but were coming from a
distance of 2-7 miles away.” (7) Christ Church history mentions Preston about 7 miles
1821 Rev. Ingles attends Eastern passage on alternate Sunday afternoons with Cole Harbour,
the latter at which congregations often number over 100. (SPG-PANS)
1822 John Inglis reports Rev. Ingles “has not been conducting services in Preston for some
time. The reason for this according to Ingles himself is primarily that the Anglicans in
Preston could attend worship services at Cole Harbour or Dartmouth with relative ease.
“At about the same time, calls were being heard from the Anglicans in Preston to build
a new church on the Lawrencetown Road which would service the people of Preston,
Cole Harbour and Lawrencetown.” (7)
“The congregation at Cole Harbour was now having Evensong said every 3 out of 4
Sundays by Rev. Ingles, but despite this, a number of them were also going to Preston
to hear the morning service.” (7)
“Rev. Ingles reports to S.P.G. he has extended his pastoral visits to Cole Harbour in
the summer months. The Sunday School at Cole Harbour is kept by Mr. Glen.
1823 Rev. Ingles takes an evening service at Cole Harbour “12 miles away”, held in the
Schoolhouse which is sometimes crowded out. The settler’s poverty is an obstacle to
them enlarging it.
1826 Christ Church consecrated. Rev. Benwell preaching at all five of the stations within
1827 The Census shows 39 families in Cole Harbour. (12)
1828 Second St. John church consecrated “specifically built to service the congregations from
Cole Harbour and Lawrencetown as well.” (7)
1835 Evidence of worship exists in Christ Church records when George Morash,
James Bissett Jr. and W. Lawlor of Cole Harbour were named to help raise by
subscription the Cole Harbour portion of fifty pounds required for the support and
maintenance of the minister of the parish. This was due to the S.P.G. reducing the
amount paid by them towards rectors stipends in the “better established missions” (11)
1836 Rev. Parker reports St. John’s congregation extremely small, but other stations healthy,
most congregations between 20 & 50 people.
June 3, 1855 “Rev. Shreve made a 38 mile journey to visit all the stations in his parish. On that day,
25 had worshipped at St. John’s, 23 at Eastern Passage, 24 at Porter’s Lake and 34 at
“In the reports of Dr. Shreve we read that on Trinity Sunday, 1855, he celebrated
Communion in St. John, Preston with 4 present and this was the first time that this
service had been administered in the new(3rd) church. Later he gives a list of 25
communicants at Preston...Dr. Shreve also enumerates at this time, 23 communicants
at Eastern Passage, 24 at Porter’s Lake and 34 at Three Fathom Harbour and
1865 Original parish of St. John, Preston divided into St. John and Seaforth (Three Fathom
Harbour, Porter’s Lake and Lawrencetown.)
1866 Parish of St. John officially changed to Christ Church Parish.
July 13, 1870 Parish of Eastern Passage began. “The church in this parish was St. Peter’s Church and
it’s first rector was Rev. Charles Burns. A parsonage and church at Cole harbour was
made possible by money received from the Diocesan Church Society.” (7)
1871 St. Andrew’s ready for use by late in the year, probably Nov. (3)
Nov.24, 1872 St. Andrew’s consecrated with Bishop Binney officiating.
1950 St. Andrew’s incorporated into parish of Westphal which included St. Andrew’s.
Port Wallis, St. John’s, Westphal, and St. Luke’s.
April 1, 1957 St. Andrew’s incorporated into Parish of Holy Spirit.
March 1, 1982 St. Andrew’s becomes the Parish of St. Andrew, Cole Harbour.
Nov. 30, 1984 St. Andrew’s Parish installs its first rector, Rev. W. G. Lynch.
1990-1996 St. Andrew’s Parish installs its second rector, Rev. M. Langille.
1996-1997 Rev’d Peter MacDonald was Priest in Charge.
1998-2005 Canon David Reid was Priest in Charge.
Dec.6, 2002 Walter Beazley was ordained Deacon.
Sept.15, 2003 Walter Beazley was ordained Priest, and is now Assistant Priest at the
Church of St. Andrew .
Jan.16, 2005 Louise MacHardy was ordained Deacon, and remained Deacon at the
Church of St. Andrew until June of 2008.
Sept. 2005-present Rev’d Katherine Bourbonniere is the third rector.
Nov. 2006-Oct. 2007 Rev’d Kirby Walsh was Priest in Charge during maternity leave for Rev’d
Nov.21, 2007 Construction began for the addition of a Kitchen and Storage Room.
April 26, 2009 Ribbon cutting ceremony for the opening of the Kitchen.