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Old Churches of Fairview

Submitted by Devonna Edwards

St. Johns Anglican Church on Kempt Road

St. John’s Anglican Church also known as the Three Mile Church It was located in St. John’s Cemetery on Kempt Road, near the Fairview Underpass and overlooking the Bedford Basin. It was built in 1841 on a beautiful site amid fields and woodlands, and landscaped by Titus Smith, “The Dutch Village Philosopher”.

The frame was made in Dartmouth and floated up the Basin and raised on the site at Three Mile House (Fairview). The church building was completed six weeks after the frame was raised and was described as rectangular with apse. The windows in the structure were of a pointed design.

Its wall material was made of wood, with hand hewn lap shingles on the side of the building and is insulated with birch bark. The roof was gable styled and had a tower on it facing the front of the church. The little church was 44 feet by 28 feet with seating capacity for 120 people.

The church was established as a chapel of ease to St. George’s Church and served the parishioners living at Dutch Village (Fairview) for 117 years. Two families who were direct descendants of the original settlers, the Deals and the Geizers supported and donated to the little church.

The church was built through the efforts of Rev. Robert Fitzgerald Uniacke, fourth son of the Richard John Uniacke. He died in 1870 and is buried at St. John’s Cemetery and on his memorial stone is written “The Children’s Friend”.

Though he had no children of his own he devoted himself to the children of the Protestant Orphans Home. Children from the home lie near him in a little corner of the graveyard. Rev. Uniacke was a venerable figure in the pulpit and deeply interested in his little church. He also was in charge of the Three Mile School and taught Sunday School where he originated Sunday School picnics. Both Rev. Uniacke and his wife Elizabeth devoted themselves to the sick during a serious small pox outbreak. Uniacke Square in Halifax is named after him.

At one time the worshippers were called to service by the ringing of a bell in the church. The bell had an interesting history as it was one of the bells from the chapel of the convent of St. Claire in Louisbourg. Cast by Bazen at Paris in 1729 and recorded in the French Archives, it was blessed and given by Louis XV in 1735. After the fall of Louisbourg, it was purchased from military stores at Halifax and for some years served in the Little Dutch Church, used for a while as a schoolroom by Mr. Uniacke, who removed the bell to St. John’s Church in 1842.

Over the years, the 52 ¼ lb. bell became cracked and the parishioners disposed of it. The bell was than displayed in the window of Godfrey Smith’s Drug Store on Hollis Street in Halifax. In 1896 it was sold at the price of a hundred dollars to a lady in French Canada, where it found its way to the Chateau de Ramezay in Montreal. Today, there is a bell dated 1895 which is on display at the site of the former St. John’s Church in St. John’s Cemetery. I believe that the bell must be the second bell to reside in the church.

Due to the growth of the community and the shifting of the population to the Dutch Village (Fairview) area and the heavy traffic on Kempt Road, posing a parking problem; the church became too small for the parish. It was decided to re-locate on the Dutch Village Road site. The old church which survived damage from the Halifax Explosion in 1917 and again in 1945 when
Hurricane “Edna” blew down the chimney, was demolished in 1959. A cairn has been placed to mark the position of the altar in its original location. A Columbarium was built on the site in 1994.

St. John’s Church Hall (First One)

The hall was described as a small white wooden structure that stood near St. John’s Church. It was used not only for church community activities, but also served as a school house known as the Three Mile House School.

St. John’s Church Hall (Second One)

When the church hall was demolished to make way for the expansion of the highway near the Fairview Underpass, another church hall was built on the bottom of Coronation Avenue in Fairview.

The church hall was also called St. John’s Hall and was used for many activities, especially the dances it held. The building burnt down in the early 1980s and today townhouses occupy the site.

St. John’s Anglican Church in Fairview (the second one)

The church complex was built on Dutch Village Road at the corners of Bayers Road and Howe Avenue (Joseph Howe Drive).
Mr. Henry (Harry) Deal donated his property in Fairview for the church. It was with the condition that his wife Katherine, remain in their house on a small section of the property until she expired, then the church would inherit the rest of the property. When she died in the 1960, the house was demolished and extra parking space was made for the parishioners.
It was designed by Keith L. Graham and Associates and was built by MacDougall Construction Co. Ltd. of New Glasgow.

The second St. John’s Anglican Church opened on February 26, 1960. It was constructed of steel and masonry with glass panels that were covered with a defusing tile screen in areas of direct sunlight. It was of contemporary design, the main body of the church, a church hall and Sunday School facilities were all under one roof. The seating capacity was for 400 worshippers.
When the sentences of consecration were revoked in 2007 the church property was sold and the complex was demolished.
Today a Shoppers Drug Mart stands on the site.

In 2013 a new St. John’s Anglican Church opened on Kearney Lake Road (later renamed Larry Uteck Boulevard) in the West Bedford development area.

The Church of St. John the Baptist

In 1840 the first Catholic Mass was held in the Doyle’s Cottage, located in the Arm-Dutch Village area. The priest travelled by horseback from Prospect to give Mass at the Cottage, to the few Catholic’s living in the area.

St. John’s Chapel, St. John’s Convent, Orphanage, Maryville School, St. John’s Rest, were all names that applied to the building that was first occupied by the Church of St. John the Baptist.

It was located on the corner of Dutch Village Road (Joseph Howe Drive) and Mumford Road, opposite Mt. Olivet Cemetery. It was the first Catholic Church in the Dutch Village (Fairview) and was built in 1847, exactly one hundred years before the erection of St. Lawrence Parish.

It was built by the first Archbishop of Halifax, Archbishop Walsh. William Walsh was born in Waterford, Ireland. When the chapel was first built he lived in the adjoining residence during the summer months. When his health began to deteriorate he stayed in a room in the tower of the chapel and had an opening made into the chapel, so that he could follow the church service from his sick bed. He died there in 1858 from Tuberculosis , he was only 54 years of age.

St. John the Baptist Church building stood in the middle of a beautiful pine grove and was described as a long narrow structure which contained a chapel, over which there was a tower. Adjoining the chapel was a residential section comprising a spacious living room, a dining room, and a kitchen on the ground floor and bedrooms above.

In the niche of the upper part of the tower, Rev. Walsh placed a carved oak statue of St. John the Baptist, which he had brought from Rome. St. John the Baptist served as a chapel of ease until the construction of St. Patrick’s Home on Mumford Road in 1885. The chapel at St. Patrick’s home was used for worship until St. Agnes Church was opened on Mumford Road in 1888.

St. John’s Convent also known as “House of Refuge” and “House of Mercy”

In 1862 Archbishop Connolly set up a home for wayward girls with the help of Patrick Power and Daniel Cronin. The residence of Archbishop Walsh was renovated for the purpose and Sisters Alexius Mooney and Mary Clare Connolly were in charge. The “fallen Women” were living in and out of prison, since there was no other facility for their care at that time. Sister Mary Clare’s Journal she says that the first arrivals were three white girls and one black and that they sat on the floor, swore, smoked tobacco and all the more because they could not get liquor.

After one year, the sisters had to abandon their work there for several reasons such as lack of water and difficulties in getting supplies in the winter time from Halifax to Dutch Village.


The facility was used as an orphanage in1872 when St. Mary’s Convent, which was started in 1849, became overcrowded.
The orphans were housed at St. John’s Convent for one year, until 1873 when St. Joseph’s Orphanage on Gottingen Street was opened. The orphanage on Quinpool Road was built in 1894.

Maryville School

There were two classroom added to the east end of the structure years later and a school was formed called Maryville School, taught by the Sisters of Charity. Sister Felix and was the superior, cook and teacher and Sister Pius, another teacher, spent most of her teaching career at this school.

The school started in 1873 as a Catholic School but in 1875 it changed to a public school. It closed in 1909 when the children were transferred to the newly erected Oxford School.

St. John’s Rest

The Sisters of Charity used the school building for a rest home from 1910 to 1916. They used it as a quiet sanatorium and a place of study in summer seasons. The Sisters added many conveniences to the house in those years. At that time they converted one of the large rooms into a chapel and the former chapel was used for other purposes.

Armed Forces

From 1916 until 1918 it was used by the armed forces during World War One. After 1918 it was occasionally occupied by a tenant.
In 1922 Chief Lone Cloud lived in the old parish.

Anne Veinotte, whose father owned G.W. Veinotte General Store on the corner of Frederick Avenue and Dutch Village Road in Fairview, told me that she remembered Chief Lone Cloud living there in that area when she was a little girl. She said that the Chief wore long, loose gowns and all the children in the neighbourhood were afraid of him. She never saw his wife or children.

On April 23, 1928 it was destroyed by fire. Three days before the fire Rev. P.F. Martin, Pastor of St. John the Baptist Parish, in Melville Cove, on the Purcell’s Cove Road, removed the old carved statue of St. John the Baptist from the niche, where it had been since 1847, and placed it in his church.

St. Lawrence Church

The church was located on Dutch Village Road in Fairview. It was built on the old Geizer property, Mark Geizer built his salt-box type of house, on a little hill there nearly one hundred years before the church was built. Several generations of his family lived there since that time, when there was only a few scattered homes, set in small farms on the Dutch Village Road. Miss Edith Geizer, Mark’s daughter, sold the property to the church in 1947. As a young girl, she attended Maryville School and continued to live in the house until she sold to the church. After the sale she abandoned the old homestead to make room for the new church and moved into the little cottage at the north-east corner of the church. The little cottage, once surrounded by woods and open fields, was demolished in 1949 after Edith died.

Work was started on the church in 1947 but until the church was built, mass was held in the auditorium of Fairview School on Main Avenue. On Christmas Day that same year, the year of the big snow storm, Father Laverman had taken the altar and vestment and started by car to the school. He got as far as the turn of the road, near the old Post Office on Main Avenue (corner of Main Ave. and Titus Street),when his car got stuck in a snowdrift. Pierce Burns, Fred Watts, and Nathan Kelly came to the rescue and helped him carry the altar and the vestment on foot through the snow to the school. Due to the snow that year in 1947 work on the building was temporarily stalled but finally the church opened on October 10, 1948.

Meetings for the church were often held at Brown’s Canadian National Railway Restaurant and at Smart’s Hall on Dutch Village Road (Joseph Howe Drive), both located near the Fairview Underpass.

St. Lawrence Church building started out as basement structure, made of cement and a frame construction painted white. The bell-tower was built directly behind the church. In 1950 a special room was made for parents with small children, in the south wing of the church.

A large window was made in the wall between the sanctuary and the room, so that the parents could see the altar and by means of a Public Address System, would hear the priest. Adjoining the room there was a washroom and facilities. The room could be entered from the main church or from the south entrance.

St. Lawrence Parish was established by Rev. John T. McNally, Archbishop of Halifax. The first pastor was Rev. A. Leverman.
It served 325 families in the area when it first opened, in the 1930s there were only twenty-seven Catholic families that lived in Fairview and St. Agnes was the only Catholic Church nearby. Many worshipers walked to church and others were taken by Nathan Kelly in his truck.

In 1959 or 1960 the Sisters of Charity supplied five Sisters to teach a parochial school (Sunday School) for about 400 Catholic children at the Church. One extra Sister a year was added until the school was fully staffed. In 1970 or 1971 construction on St. Lawrence Church changed the building from a basement structure to an A-Frame Style church.

St. Lawrence Church Hall

The hall was opened in 1948, built by paid labour during the day and by voluntary labour in the evening. The original kitchen in the hall was built on the north side and was donated by McDonald Construction. It was renovated and enlarged in the 1990s.

St. Lawrence Rectory (First One)

The first Rectory was located across the street from the church on Dutch Village Road. Over the years, the Rectory became too small and inadequate, so it was decided to build a new Rectory next to the church.

St. Lawrence Rectory (Second One)

The new Rectory was built in 1957, on the site of the old Geizer Cottage. Franco Consiglio designed the building and Dennis Thibault was the contractor.

It was constructed with 18,000 Glasco Roman Matex brown range bricks, used on the walls and chimney. All the cut stone trim, bands and window sills were made of Indiana limestone. Webb Engineering Ltd. made and installed the wrought iron railings and brackets. The building was a two storey structure with a basement and had 52 aluminum storm windows, 48 of them complete with screens. The glazing was done by Halifax Glass Works. A specially designed chip-glass was used for the doors opening off the main hall.

The Stone Wall

In 1951, thirty stone cutters and masons began the work of building a wall along the 250 feet frontage of the church property. Several of the men did not belong to the parish; some among them were not even Catholic but they all donated their labour. The stone was donated by James S. Coughlan.

The stone wall was a meeting place for the young men of Fairview for years. Regardless of the time of day, several of them sat on the wall chatting and watching the girls go by. When the church was remodelled in 1970, most of the stone wall was removed and only a small portion remained near the Laurentian Apartment building.

St. Lawrence Church, Hall and Rectory were all demolished in 2010 to make way for a building complex called St. Lawrence Place. The complex houses, condos, rentals, and business.

St. Pius X Church (First One)

The church was located on Coronation Avenue in Fairview. Mass was held in St. Pius X School prior to the opening of the new church. On Sundays, service was held in the school’s gym, folding doors were opened and the back of the gym became an altar for church service.

St. Pius X Church (Second One)

St. Pius X Church opened in 1960 across the street from the school. A house behind the church building was used as a Rectory. Today the church building is owned by the Freemasons.

Saint Benedict Church

The church is located at the corner of Dunbrack Street and Radcliffe Drive. It opened in 2010 and serves about 1,700 Roman Catholic families of the Fairview, Clayton Park, and Rockingham area.

Three Catholic Churches: St. Lawrence Church on Dutch Village Road, St. Pius X Church on Coronation Avenue and Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church on Melody Drive amalgamated to form St. Benedict’s Parish.

Fairview United Church

The first church was located on Ashdale Avenue in Fairview. Fairview Community Sunday School was organized at Smart’s Hall on Dutch Village Road (Joseph Howe Drive). Thirty-three pupils were enrolled. Church services were held once a month, Sunday School was held weekly until 1940. At that time the rent was considered too high and other accommodations were sought. The Fairview School Board agreed to allow the use of the Fairview School basement provided it was cared for by those using it and a small fee paid.

In order to defray expenses needed for hall rent and Sunday School supplies a “Ladies Circle” was organized in 1938 with Mrs. Enos Patterson as Secretary-Treasurer and Mrs. J.H. Faulkner as President. The Ladies Circle were given permission by the Trustees to purchase lots on Ashdale Avenue to build a Church. In 1942 at a meeting held in Fairview School plans were started to build a Church Hall on the property.

The new Church Hall was completed and opened on March 26, 1943 and Mr. Boyd Bishop, student minister at Pine Hill Divinity Hall, conducted the first service. In 1947 Rev. Harry Rackham was hired as Retired Supply Minister and a new Manse was built on Ashdale Avenue across from the Church.

In 1949 the Church Hall was converted into a Church. The front of the building was re-modeled and the steeple was added. In 1954, due to the growing congregation, an extension was added to the back of the Church which provided a kitchen and Chancel for the church.

In 1956, the Goodall property on Dutch Village Road was purchased as a site for the new church. The property was the original homestead of W.D. Piercey, who was born there. He was known as a developer of the “Dutch Village” and donated a piece of land to Fairview , which is called the “W.D. Piercey Sportsfield”, he also donated in his will, a sum of money to the Fairview United Church.

Mr. William (Bill) Stevens was the contractor who built the church, he remained a devoted member of the Church for the rest of his life. The new Fairview United Church opened in 1960 on Dutch Village Road in Fairview. C.C. Walls was the minister. The Rev. J. Allison Fraser was inducted to the pastorate of the church in 1961 after Mr. Walls retired. At that time there were about 380 members.

The United Church Manse

In 1947, a Manse was built on Ashdale Avenue, in Fairview, across the street from the church. The Manse became inadequate in 1972 so the property was sold. Property on Plymouth Street was then purchased for a new manse.

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