Portland - Saint John
According to the sermons the minister
preached, the Sabbath was supposed to be a day of rest, but this didn’t
apply to Mum. She always seemed very rushed on Sunday mornings getting
ready to get to church on time.
Since there were oil lamps in the Kirk, I had a good idea. They could
hold the service in the evening but no one heeded my suggestion as
children were to be seen and not heard.
By the way, a little flock of Church of England worshippers at
Portland, were without a minister from 1823 to 1827, yet they met
together in the
evenings with their Bibles and Prayer Books and they gladly welcomed
visits from the Reverend Grays.
By 1827, the Reverend J. W. D. Gray, who assisted his father at Trinity
Church in the present day uptown Saint John, commenced to regularly
Sunday services in Portland. - probably in the homes of Mr. Waterbury
Paradise Row and Mrs. Israel Merritt in Indiantown - until the Grace
Church opened on August 16, 1829 at the corner of Simonds and High
Street. It was stated in 1888 that this was the first church in Canada
to hold continuous evening services.
There are several ‘firsts’ associated with Grace Church. The
first Sunday School was organized in December of 1833 with three
teachers and six scholars. The first church report, published in
December of 1834, showed the
number of scholars to be 211 with 14 teachers. The first Children’s
Service was held on the afternoon of October 8, 1834, with 129 scholars
each child was presented a book. This was the pioneer Church of England
School in New Brunswick, if not in all of Canada, whose sessions were
in the afternoon. It was the first Free Church of England in New
Brunswick - wholly supported by voluntary subscriptions - where
the sittings in the church were free. The first rector, the Reverend
Gilbert L Wiggins, served at Grace Church from 1833 until 1836 and he
was also the first native-born Church of England minister in New
When the Grace Church became too small for the congregation, St. Luke’s
Church opened on December 23, 1838. The building was 75 x 50 feet and
cost more than two thousand pounds.
In 1841 the Grace Church edifice was taken down and removed to Wall
Street and re-erected, where it was known as the “Valley Church”.
On May 28, 1875, St. Luke’s was destroyed by a fire that was first
discovered in the barn in the rear of Keltie’s brewery, off Main
Street. A burning
shingle flew up from the brewery, crossed the small lane adjoining and
in the belfry of St. Luke’s. Fanned by a strong wind, the fire spread
and soon covered more than 20 acres with eighty dwelling houses being
and leaving 163 families turned out of doors. By June, plans for a new
building had been accepted and a building committee chosen. The church
service in the Sunday School Room in January of 1876.
To commemorate the fiftieth anniversary in 1889 of St. Luke’s Church, a
200-page book titled, “A Review of the First Half Century
History of St Luke’s Church, Portland”, edited by the Rev. L.
G. Stevens with information on the rectors, curates and members of the
The footnotes and biographical details in this book remind one of the
exchange of news that often takes place as members of church
near the doorstep following the service. Fortunately this type of
was included in the publication and may provide interesting notes for
For example, Mrs. Richard Scoles who died at the age of ninety-eight
years, was first married to Hugh Phillips of Fermanagh, a shoemaker in
Regiment who made fine boots and slippers for Napoleon. She lived on
Island of St. Helena during the last four years of Napoleon’s
there. A few years before her death, she gave a coffee-cup that
to Napoleon to the rector of St. Luke’s.
During the half century of St. Luke’s of 1838 to 1888, there were 2906
baptisms, nearly 700 confirmations, 1038 marriages and 1420 funerals.
By the way, you will find the residences given, are not only of
Portland - now part of Saint John but Loch Lomond, Ten Mile Creek,
Kingston, Hampton and other localities.
“A Review of the First Half Century History of St Luke’s
Church, Portland”, edited by L. G. Stevens is available at
Saint John Free Public Library and the New Brunswick Museum and can be
read online at http://www.ourroots.ca/e/toc.aspx?id=3295.
records of St. Luke’s Church 1833 - 1911 are at the Saint John Free
Library and at the Provincial Archives, Fredericton.
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Microfilm of St. Luke's Church
Baptisms - 1833 -
1874 1875 - 1911
Marriages - 1833 -
1875 1875 - 1911
Burials - 1833
- 1841 1877 - 1911
Confirmations - 1876 - 1911
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