The Religious North End

Churches of the North End (photo source: Halifax, Nova Scotia and its Attractions, Howard & Kutsche, ca. 1902).

The North End could be defined as a city of churches. In just a few city blocks from the mid-1860s to the early decades of the 20th century there were 15 places of worship. These institution provided their communities with places to socialize as well as places to worship for much of the late 19th century. Of the 15 churches that populated this neighbourhood only three are still in active service and today only one of the steeples towers over the buildings and shops below. As the inner city changed and populations moved further North, into the West End of Halifax and/or out into Armdale, Fairview and Rockingham these congregations suffered declining attendance and for the most part closed or relocated. Today we are seeing that same trend throughout the city’s churches giving proof to the suggestion that history repeats itself.  The churches of the North End:

The Church of the Holy Redeemer, Brunswick Street, ca. 1899 (NS Historic Places Initiative)

– Church of the Holy Redeemer, Universalist Unitarian Church, Brunswick Street – opened 1874 sold in the 1940s and converted to apartments in the 1980s.

– Saint Patrick’s, Roman Catholic Church, Brunswick Street – opened 1843.

– Saint George’s Round Church, Anglican, Brunswick Street – opened 1802.

– Brunswick Street Methodist Church, Brunswick Street – opened 1834.

– Little Dutch Church, Anglican, Brunswick Street – opened 1756.

– Presbyterian Church, Brunswick Street – opened, moved in 1917 to Windsor Street.

– Park Street Presbyterian Church, North Park Street – opened in 1880s, destroyed by fire 1940s.

– Cornwallis Baptist Church, Cornwallis Street  – opened 1840s.

– African Episcopalian Methodist Church, cor of Gottingen and Falkland Street – demolished 1950s.

– North Baptist Church, Gottingen Street – 1860s- ca. 1913.

Underneath Scotia Square, the Trade Mart Building and the Cogswell Interchange

Garrison Chapel, Brunswick Street, burned 1910 (NS Museum)

– Poplar Grove Presbyterian, Poplar Grove – 1793-1884 (relocated to North Park Street).

– Salem Chapel Baptist Church, Argyle Street – 1845.

– Chalmer’s Church, Presbyterian Duke and Barrington 1849-1905.

– Trinity Free Church, Jacob Street (congregation moved to Garrison Chapel in 1907).

– Garrison Chapel, corner of Cogswell and Brunswick Streets demolished in 2008/09.

Over the next few weeks and months we will highlight the history of each of these institutions and how the impacted the local community. The first church in our study will be the North Baptist Church which was located between Falkland and Cornwallis streets on Gottingen.


9 thoughts on “The Religious North End

  1. The building identified as Brunswick Street Presbyterian Church was actually Methodist, its congregation having been founded by William Black in 1792. The original church building was known as Zoar Methodist Chapel, and was located on the site of present day Scotia Square. Old Brunswick Street Church was built in 1834 and destroyed by fire in 1979. It was notable for its magnificent carved pulpit and splendid gallery with gorgeous ogee shaped arches.
    (I left a similar message on another page- an error I could not seem to correct)

    Thank you for this very interesting site. I look forward to seeing more entries in the future.

    • Hi Garth! Thanks for the message – yes I agree that is a mistake on my part – the church in the photo that is identified as Brunswick Street Presbyterian (1834) is in fact the Brunswick Street Methodist church… Thank you for pointing that out.

  2. I believe the corner stone on St John’s United Church, Windsor St., says St John’s Presbyterian Church. Couldn’t have been two St John’s Presbyterians??? That picture just might show Grafton St Metodist later The Presbyterian Church of Saint David.

    • Hi – no the two churches were similar in design but there was definitely a St. John’s Presbyterian Church on Brunswick Street – it joined with Park Street Presbyterian and one other church to form the congregation that built St. John’s United which opened after the Halifax Explosion.

      • The St John’s United Church on Windsor Street replaced the old building on Brunswick Street so badly damaged in the explosion, as the blogger says above. Grafton Street Methodist (now St David’s Presbyterian) was designed by the Scottish born architect David Stirling in 1868. The old St John’s Presbyterian did have a similar design, but it wasn’t a Stirling design. The present day St John’s United was designed by Andrew Cobb, whose architectural legacy is most evident around Dalhousie and Kings.
        To the blogger, atlanticrevolution, I would say how much I wish this interesting site were continued and further developed!

      • Thank you for your comment Garth! I have been busy the last two years with work and it has led me to relocate to Alberta… but it hasn’t stopped me from researching. I have a few posts up my sleeve and I hope to continue, though intermittently, post some new content soon.

      • Thanks so much for your reply. I hope your relocation to Alberta is going well!
        I think your site is excellent, and I’d love to see more entries. I also think you have the makings of a wonderful book here. The background photo alone is fascinating. Driving along this portion of Barrington Street today, one would never imagine the rich architectural heritage that once existed there. I think of the many generations of Haligonians who knew this neighbourhood intimately, who if they returned today would be shocked to see so much change. My friend Bill Naftel recently produced a marvellous book of vintage images of ‘old’ Halifax. I think it’s worth exploring not just the lost architectural heritage of our city, but the many stories of lives lived in those vanished places. My late friend, Margaret Campbell wrote a very personal history of Brunswick Street United Church that conveys some of that. The people who once walked the same paths we now tread. Don’t you find that fascinating? I sure do! My great grandparents who lived in the lovely brick apartments on Morris Street just above Barrington St surely knew some of the topography of our city, but in a rather different iteration.
        Anyway, it’s very kind of you to reply. I applaud your efforts with this blog, and look forward to reading future entries.

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