The history of St. Peter’s Anglican Church

The fate of the over century-old St. Peter’s Anglican Church in Sheguiandah is up for debate by the Northeast Town council. Photo by Kevin Dunlop

EDITOR’S NOTE: As the Northeast Town council debates the fate of St. Peter’s church, an oft heard tale in all corners of this province following the decommissioning of country churches, The Expositor reflects on the history of this Sheguiandah place of worship.

SHEGUIANDAH—In light of the Northeast Town council’s recent decision to look at tearing down Saint Peter’s Anglican Church in Sheguiandah and explore the possible construction of a replica church (utilizing the church’s bell, pews and stain glass windows) on the Centennial Museum of Sheguiandah grounds, The Expositor contacted the museum’s curator, Heidi Ferguson, to find out more about the little church which is getting big attention.

“St. Peter’s Church was built in 1883 by the Stringer, Keatley, Atkinson and Dunlop families, as well as other pioneers,” explained Ms. Ferguson, noting that her source of information is courtesy of the Manitoulin Genealogy Club’s book ‘Reflections’ and information located in the museum’s files. “A long shed at the back was protection for the horses while they rested during church services. It was also used by the community through the week. Being beside the municipal hall, the shed was used for all events in the hall, from meetings, dances, card parties etc.”

“The personage for St. Peter’s was at the east end of the village, a large cement building with four bedrooms, located at site No.15 on the Sheguiandah Walking Tour,” continued Ms. Ferguson. “The property was enhanced by lovely evergreen trees planted by Mr. Hardyman, a lay reader from England who was clergy for many years. He also planted the evergreen trees around St. Andrews Church at Sheguiandah First Nation. At that time, St. Peter’s had three charges including St. John’s at Bidwell and St. Andrews church. At one time, Little Current was also a charge of the St. Peter’s Parish.”

“During the years, the congregation has gone up and down,” she added. “When the silica quarry was in operation, and more people were around, numbers were up. Church services were held about four times a year until it finally closed.”

“St. Peter’s was decommissioned in 2005, and ownership transferred to the Northeast Town under the care and control of the Centennial Museum of Sheguiandah,” continued Ms. Ferguson.

After a number of Northeast Town councillors expressed support for the idea of building a replica church, Northeast Town Mayor Al MacNevin suggested that council’s representative on the Museum Advisory Committee, Dawn Orr, take the idea to the committee to ensure that there is indeed interest.

Mayor MacNevin also noted that since there are no funds budgeted for the church’s demolition or replica in the 2014 budget, that the topic be brought up again during council’s 2015 budget discussions this fall if there is interest from the advisory committee.