St. Paul's Church (Halifax)

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St Paul's Church
St Paul's in the Grand Parade
Halifax - NS - St. Paul’s Church.jpg
St Paul's Church
44°38′51″N 63°34′29″W / 44.64750°N 63.57472°W / 44.64750; -63.57472Coordinates: 44°38′51″N 63°34′29″W / 44.64750°N 63.57472°W / 44.64750; -63.57472
Location1749 Argyle Street
Halifax, Nova Scotia
B3J 3K4
ChurchmanshipLow church
WebsiteOfficial site
Founded13 June 1750 (1750-06-13)
Architect(s)James Gibbs[1]
Architectural typeGeorgian
Completed2 September 1750
Official nameSt. Paul’s Anglican Church National Historic Site of Canada
TypeProvincially Registered Property
Designated7 November 1983
Reference no.00PNS0006

St. Paul's Church is an evangelical Anglican church in downtown Halifax, Nova Scotia, within the Diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island of the Anglican Church of Canada. It is located at the south end of the Grand Parade, an open square in downtown Halifax with Halifax City Hall at the northern end. Built during Father Le Loutre's War, it is the oldest surviving Protestant church in Canada and the oldest building in Halifax.[2] There is also a crypt below the church and the St. Paul's Church Cemetery. The official chapel of the church was the Little Dutch (Deutsch) Church.

Saint Paul's was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1981.[3][4] In 1981, it was designated a Municipal Registered Heritage Property by the former City of Halifax, and in 1983 it was designated a Provincially Registered Heritage Property both under the provincial Heritage Property Act.[1]


Richard John Uniacke, Jr. Monument by John Gibson, Via Fontanella Studio, Rome, c. 1830
Amelia Ann Smyth, d. 1817 (wife of acting Lt. Gov. of Nova Scotia George Stracey Smyth) - monument by Sir Francis Leggatt Chantrey (crypt, plaque)
Part of a series on the
History of
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Halifax Town Clock.jpg

It was founded in 1749 (the same year as the Halifax colony). The construction was begun in 1750 and is based on the ground plan of Gibbs' Marybone Chapel (later St. Peter's, Vere Street) in London, with later additions such as a larger tower. The Reverend William Tutty (1715–1754) opened the church on September 2, 1750.[5] Rev. William Tutty was the first minister (1750–54); followed by Rev. John Breynton (1754–91) and Rev. Thomas Wood (1752–64), who served at the same time.[6] The church also served as the site for the initial congregation of St. Matthew's United Church (Halifax) until this church was built.

During the French and Indian War (the North American theatre of the Seven Years' War), the church was the site of the burials of two prominent Nova Scotians: Governor Charles Lawrence. (d.1760) and Catholic Priest Pierre Maillard, the latter ceremony was attended by a large number of Mi'kmaq people. (Also during the war, the church was where Horatio Gates married Elizabeth Phillips in 1754.) Soon after the war, Vice-Admiral Philip Durell (d. 1766) was buried after having participated in the Siege of Louisbourg (1758) and the Siege of Quebec (1759).

During the American Revolution the church held burial ceremonies for Francis McLean (d. 1781) who defended New Ireland (Maine) during the war; Capt Henry Francis Evans (d.1781) who died in the Naval Battle off Cape Breton (1781); Baron Oberst Franz Carl Erdmann von Seitz Hatchment (d.1782) who was the commander of the Hessian soldiers that defended Lunenburg in the Raid on Lunenburg (1782); and Governor Michael Francklin (d. 1782), whose funeral was also attended by a large number of Mi'kmaq people.

After the American Revolution, with the creation of the Diocese of Nova Scotia in 1787, St. Paul's was given the Bishop's seat, making it the first Anglican cathedral outside of Great Britain. It served as the cathedral from 1787–1864.[7] The diocese included Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, St. Johns (now Prince Edward Island), and across Quebec and Ontario to Windsor, and Bermuda. For many decades it was one of the only places of worship in Halifax, and other denominations would thus hold services in the building.

The two most valuable sculptures/ monuments are by John Gibson (for Richard John Uniacke, Jr.) and another monument by Sir Francis Leggatt Chantrey (for Amelia Ann Smyth). Both Gibson and Chantry were famous British sculptors during the Victorian era and have numerous sculptures in the Tate, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and Westminster Abbey.

During the Halifax Explosion of 1917, a piece of wooden window frame from another building was lodged into the wall of St. Paul's Church, where it remains today.

Ministers (1749–1824)[edit]

The Crypt and Commemorations[edit]

The crypt contains the remains of 20 congregants which are listed below.[11] Also indicated below are those that have been commemorated in the church through a plaque, a hatchment or a window.

Founders of Halifax[edit]

American Revolution[edit]

French Revolutionary Wars (1792–1802)[edit]

  • Lieutenant General William Neville Gardiner, d. 1806, commander of the army in Halifax, Nova Scotia
  • Lieutenant Colonel David Meredith, d. 1809

Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815)[edit]

Second Boer War[edit]

John Wimburn Laurie's sons(plaque)
  • Stanley Banfield, d. , 2nd Canadian Mounted Rifles (plaque)
  • Capt. John Halliburton Laurie, d. 1901, son of John Wimburn Laurie (plaque)


Uniacke Family[edit]

The family of Richard John Uniacke dominates the plaques and monuments in St. Paul's Church. (On separate occasions, two Uniacke family members stood trial for murder.)


Notable events[edit]



Royal Visits[edit]

  • Saint Paul's has a royal pew, and many royal guests have visited, including the father of Queen Victoria, Prince Edward, and Princesses Michael (1984), Margaret, Alexandra, and Elizabeth (Queen Elizabeth II), and Prince Edward in 1987. However, HRH Prince George, later to become King George V of the United Kingdom, declined to use the royal pew during his visits to Halifax as the commander of HMS Thrush (1891).[33]

Halifax Explosion[edit]

Explosion Window - Silhouette of Jean-Baptiste Moreau (clergyman)
Airborne debris of the Halifax Explosion

St. Paul's Church played a significant role in the Halifax Explosion. Doctors used the church as an emergency hospital, using the two vestries to tend to the wounded, while the bodies of the dead were stacked on top of each other around the walls of the nave.[34] Most of the windows were smashed and there was wide cracks in the roof. It was the only church in the city considered safe enough to conduct a service the following day. All the congregations used the church to conduct burial ceremonies.

There remains two artifacts in the church from this disaster: the "Explosion Window", which. shattered to form a silhouette of a man's head and shoulders. The congregation concluded that the silhouette is the likeness of Abbe Moreau, who arrived with Cornwallis. There is also a piece of a steel window frame that remains embedded in the wall of the vestibule above the inside doors to the church.

See also[edit]



  • J. Philip McAleer. A pictorial history of St. Paul's Anglican Church, Halifax, Nova Scotia 1 edition Appendix 2, 1993
  • Thomas, C. E. (1974). "Tutty, William". In Halpenny, Francess G. Dictionary of Canadian Biography. III (1741–1770) (online ed.). University of Toronto Press.
  • Memorials at St. Paul's Church, Acadiensis, p. 58
  • History of St. Paul's Church. PART 1. Collections of the Nova Scotia Historical Society
  • History of St. Paul's Church. PART 2. Collections of the Nova Scotia Historical Society


  1. ^ a b St. Paul's Anglican Church. Canadian Register of Historic Places. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
  2. ^ It was the second protestant church ever established in Canada. The first was Cathedral of St. John the Baptist (St. John's), Newfoundland (1699).
  3. ^ St. Paul's Anglican Church National Historic Site of Canada. Canadian Register of Historic Places. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
  4. ^ St. Paul's Anglican Church National Historic Site of Canada. Directory of Federal Heritage Designations. Parks Canada.
  5. ^ Pound, Richard W. (2005). 'Fitzhenry and Whiteside Book of Canadian Facts and Dates'. Fitzhenry and Whiteside.
  6. ^ Breynton was absent from 1785–1791.
  7. ^ Baxter Emsley, Sarah (1999). St. Paul's in the Grand Parade. halifax: Formac Publishing Company Ltd. p. 4. ISBN 0-88780-487-X.
  8. ^ p. 81
  9. ^ The Church of England in Nova Scotia and the Tory Clergy of the Revolution By Arthur Wentworth Hamilton Eaton, p. 184
  10. ^ Thomas, C. E. (1979). "Wood, Thomas". In Halpenny, Francess G. Dictionary of Canadian Biography. IV (1771–1800) (online ed.). University of Toronto Press.
  11. ^ For the list see J. Philip McAleer. A pictorial history of St. Paul's Anglican Church, Halifax, Nova Scotia 1 edition Appendix 2, 1993. pp.142–143
  12. ^ While a display inside the church states that Buckeley is buried in the crypt, according to J. Philip McAleer, the evidence that Bulkeley was buried in the church is circumstantial. This circumstantial evidence rests on the fact that he helped establish the church and was an active member in it for 51 years. Also Buckeley is reported to have had the largest funeral ceremony ever to be in Halifax up to that date. Further, his wife Mary Rous has a headstone in the St Paul's Church Cemetery, while Buckeley does not. Rev Hill, however reports that Bulkeley's grave is marked by a rude stone in St. Paul's Church cemetery, presumably close to the gravestone of his wife Mary Rous. (See Collections of the Nova Scotia Historical Society, Vol. 2, p. 69)
  13. ^ p. 289
  14. ^ Colonel of the Hesse Cassel Garrison Regiment Von Seitz - see Hessian (soldiers). The Baron fought in the American Revolution, particularly on 16 November 1776, he captured Fort Washington; 1776-1778, Garrisoned New York; 1778-1783, Garrisoned Halifax. See "The Hessians of Nova Scotia" by John H Merz and Winthrop P. Bell entitled, "A Hessian conscript's account of life in garrison at Halifax at the time of the American Revolution". Collections of the Nova Scotia Historical Society, Volume 27, 1947
  15. ^
  16. ^ Canadian Biography
  17. ^ Barry Cahill, “The Career of Chief Justice Bryan Finucane,” Nova Scotia Historical Society Collections, vol. 42 (1986), pp. 153-69.
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^ 5 Mar 1813, Halifax, arrived the Sylph, Capt. Douglas, from Bermuda, having lost her boats and anchors in bad weather after parting from the Childers, and reports the Britannia, with whom she separated on 20 Feb., now arrived Halifax 11 Mar.
  21. ^
  22. ^ Captain John Mudge b. 1792 d. 1872 m. Sarah Jessie Henrietta Colton b. 1796 d. 1818. Dolphin, about October 1777, captured the 100-ton brigantine Salisbury (John Mudge). Dolphin was sent into Massachusetts, where she was libeled in the Massachusetts Court of the Middle District on 6 November 1777, with trial set for 27 November.46
  23. ^ Possibly the wife of Thomas Hardy, captain of HMS Triumph; daughter of George Cranfield Berkeley
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^ Collections of the Nova Scotia Historical Society. Vol. 1, p. 44
  27. ^ father of Edward Winslow (loyalist), his former home now belongs to the Mayflower House Museum
  28. ^ Winslow's tombstone is inscribed in part "his fortune suffered shipwreck in the storm of civil war", the "civil war" being the American Revolution, American Patriots fighting American Loyalists.
  29. ^ p. 786
  30. ^ a b
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^ Baxter Emsley, Sarah (1999). St. Paul's in the Grand Parade. Halifax: Formac Publishing Company Ltd. pp. 47–48. ISBN 0-88780-487-X.
  34. ^ C.E. Thomas. St. Paul's Church, Halifax, Revisited. Collections of the Nova Scotia Historical Society. 1961. Vol. 33, pp. 26-27.

External links[edit]