St. Paul's Church (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

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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.

The church is modelled after Marybone Chapel in Westminster, London, which was designed by controversial architect James Gibbs, the architect of St Martin-in-the-Fields at Trafalgar Square.

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. Close to the church is 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]


St. Paul's Church 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 (d.1762), 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 funerals 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 few places of worship in Halifax, and other denominations would thus hold services in the building.

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.

Prominent monuments[edit]



Silver communion service[edit]

Queen Anne silver Communion Service by Francis Garthorne, St. Paul's Church, Halifax, Nova Scotia[9]

The service originally consisted of five pieces: four pieces have the mark of King George I (2 flagons, a Chalice and an alms receiver[10]). Two of these pieces also have the mark of Queen Anne (a flagon and the alms receiver), which are dated 1713. The fifth piece – the paten – was damaged and melted down around 1819.[11] All the pieces are made from Britannia silver. In 1783, Governor Parr had the service given to St. Paul's.[12][13]

The silversmith Francis Garthorne (1641–1729) marked all of the pieces with a "G" encircling a small Roman capital A. Garthorne's work is in the collections of Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Royal Collection Trust. He created five of the ten Ceremonial maces now on display in the Jewel House at the Tower of London.


Some of the monuments in the church showcase sculptures by England's leading sculptors during the nineteenth century. All of whom exhibited their work at the Royal Academy of Arts and have their work in the National Portrait Gallery (London), the Tate, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts State House, Trafalgar Square, St Paul's Cathedral, Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey.

There are two stone carvings by Samuel Nixon, one of a shipwreck and the other of the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Nixon was commissioned by the City of London to create a statue of King William IV (1844), which Gentleman's Magazine called "a masterpiece" and an example of "artistic genius."[14]

Another sculpture was created by Sir Francis Leggatt Chantrey (for Amelia Ann Smyth). Chantrey's most notable works include the statues of King George IV (Trafalgar Square); King George III (Guildhall), and George Washington (Massachusetts State House). He also executed four monuments to military heroes for St Paul's Cathedral. (Chantrey's sculpture of Sir Walter Scott was commissioned for Victoria Park, Halifax, Nova Scotia.)

There is also a sculpture by Richard Westmacott III (for Sampson Salter Blowers).[15][16] Westmacoott was the son of Sir Richard Westmacott. Among Westmacott III's most notable works is the pediment of the Royal Exchange (London); the monument commemorating Sir John Franklin (Greenwich Hospital). (Westmacott's uncle architect John Westmacott (d. 1816) is buried in the Old Burying Ground in Halifax, Nova Scotia.)

There is a sculpture in St. Paul's Church by John Gibson (for Richard John Uniacke, Jr.) and a monument by William F. Woodington (Henry Hezekiah Cogswell's monument to his children). Woodington's work includes statues on Westminster Bridge, Nelson’s Column (Trafalgar Square), St. Paul’s Cathedral, and the House of Lords.

Ministers (1749–1824)[edit]

The crypt and commemorations[edit]

The crypt contains the remains of 20 congregants which are listed below.[28] 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 Colonel David Meredith, died 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, died 1901, son of John Wimburn Laurie (plaque)



Prominent families[edit]

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.[citation needed]

Almon Family[edit]

The memorials to the family of Dr. William James Almon also dominant the church. There were four generations of doctors in the family that had a significant impact on the field of medicine in the province.

  • Amelia Rebecca (Almon) Ritchie – daughter of William Bruce Almon – memorial plaque
  • John Egan Almon, died 1917 (plaque)
  • William Bruce Almon (1875–1940) (plaque)

Cogswell Family[edit]

The memorials to the family of Henry Hezekiah Cogswell also dominate the church. There are monuments placed to four of his children, three of which died while Henry was alive. His son Rev. William became a celebrated orator and author.

Ritchie Family[edit]

The memorials to the family of Hon. John William Ritchie also dominant the church. There are memorial windows placed for a son and five of his daughters. His twelve children donated money for the memorial window on the south side of the church.

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).[65]

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.[66][67] Only one stained glass window was broken in the church; however, most of the other windows were smashed, and there were 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 funerals.

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 (ed.). Dictionary of Canadian Biography. Vol. 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
  • C.E. Thomas. St. Paul's Church, Halifax, Revisited. Collections of the Nova Scotia Historical Society. 1961. Vol. 33, pp. 26–27.
  • Harris, V, The Church of St Paul, Halifax, Nova Scotia 1749–1949 (Toronto: 1949)
  • The Chancel of St. Paul's Anglican Church, Halifax, Nova Scotia: Form Follows Convenience by J. PHILIP McALEER RACAR: revue d'art canadienne / Canadian Art Review, Vol. 17, No. 1 (1990), pp. 46–53, 99-101


  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. ^ a b "Acadiensis; a quarterly devoted to the interests of the maritime provinces of Canada". St. John, N.B.
  9. ^ Charles Vernon. Early Days of the Church in Nova Scotia. 1910.
  10. ^ "Glossary of Terms".
  11. ^[bare URL PDF]
  12. ^ Tinker McKay. Francis Garthorne. Lent 2014. St. Paul's Journal, pp. 5-6
  13. ^ "Chapel Plate for Nova Scotia" by Lauretta Harris and Tinker McKay is in the British magazine "Silver Studies" #28 published in 2012.
  14. ^ Samuel Nixon. Obituary. Gentleman's Magazine. Vol. 42, p. 406
  15. ^ A Biographical Dictionary of Sculptors in Britain, 1660-1851
  16. ^ Harris, V, The Church of St Paul, Halifax, Nova Scotia 1749-1949 (Toronto: 1949)
  17. ^ p. 81
  18. ^ "Biography – BREYNTON, JOHN – Volume IV (1771-1800) – Dictionary of Canadian Biography".
  19. ^ A sermon
  20. ^ Loyalist from Salem
  21. ^ Collections of the Society, Volume 2. Protestant Episcopal Historical Society. 1853. p. 315. Retrieved 19 July 2019. rev. wingate weeks. St. Michael's church, marblehead, mass.
  22. ^ "Collections of the Nova Scotia Historical Society". Halifax, Nova Scotia Historical Society. 1880.
  23. ^ The Church of England in Nova Scotia and the Tory Clergy of the Revolution By Arthur Wentworth Hamilton Eaton, p. 184
  24. ^ "A sermon, preached in St. Paul's Church, Halifax: on the occasion of the death of the Revd. William Cogswell, A.M., curate of said parish, on Sunday, 13th June, 1847" / by Robert Willis.
  25. ^ Nova Scotia and Nova Scotians [microform] : A lecture delivered before the Literary and Debating Society of Windsor, N.S. And afterward at the Temperance Hall, Halifax, in behalf of the Athenæum. 1858. ISBN 9780665227394.
  26. ^ "Biography – WILLIS, ROBERT – Volume IX (1861-1870) – Dictionary of Canadian Biography".
  27. ^ Thomas, C. E. (1979). "Wood, Thomas". In Halpenny, Francess G (ed.). Dictionary of Canadian Biography. Vol. IV (1771–1800) (online ed.). University of Toronto Press.
  28. ^ 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
  29. ^ 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)
  30. ^ p. 289
  31. ^ 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
  32. ^ "Collections of the Nova Scotia Historical Society". Halifax.
  33. ^ Barry Cahill, “The Career of Chief Justice Bryan Finucane,” Nova Scotia Historical Society Collections, vol. 42 (1986), pp. 153-69.
  34. ^ Harris, V, The Church of St Paul, Halifax, Nova Scotia 1749-1949 (Toronto: 1949), p. 288, 291
  35. ^ A Sort of Conscience: The Wakefields By Philip Temple
  36. ^[bare URL PDF]
  37. ^ 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.
  38. ^ 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
  39. ^ Could also be wife of Captain Thomas Hardy of HMS Quirrel and HMS Greyhound (St. Paul's History, 1949, p. 295
  40. ^ Will of Reverend, Doctor Edward Woodcock, Doctor of Laws, Vicar of Watford, Rector of the United Parishes of Saint Michael Wood Street and Saint Mary Steyning in the City of London of Watford , Hertfordshire
  41. ^ p. 45
  42. ^ p.117
  43. ^ [Capt. John Okes Hardy halifax saint albans p.1075]
  44. ^ "John Oakes Hardy".
  45. ^ "Calendar of wills on file and recorded in the offices of the clerk of the Court of appeals". New York [The Knickerbocker press]. 1896.
  46. ^ p.146
  47. ^ "The Naval chronicle : Containing a general and biographical history of the royal navy of the United kingdom with a variety of original papers on nautical subjects". 1799.
  48. ^ p.212
  49. ^ p.145
  50. ^ Susan Woodcock, p. 399
  51. ^ marriage to Susan Woodcock, p.404
  52. ^ p.383
  53. ^ "St. Paul's Church (Halifax) - Sunday School - MemoryNS".
  54. ^ Rebecca “Becca” Byles Almon Find A Grave
  55. ^ Canadian Biography
  56. ^ [• Online Books by William Cogswell]
  57. ^ p. 343
  58. ^ Collections of the Nova Scotia Historical Society. Vol. 1, p. 44
  59. ^ father of Edward Winslow (loyalist), his former home now belongs to the Mayflower House Museum
  60. ^ 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.
  61. ^ p. 786
  62. ^ "Winslow memorial : Family records of the Winslows and their descendants in America, with the English ancestry as far as known. Kenelm Winslow". 1877.
  63. ^ "Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society". 1792.
  64. ^ "Collections of the Nova Scotia Historical Society". 1880.
  65. ^ Baxter Emsley, Sarah (1999). St. Paul's in the Grand Parade. Halifax: Formac Publishing Company Ltd. pp. 47–48. ISBN 0-88780-487-X.
  66. ^ C.E. Thomas. St. Paul's Church, Halifax, Revisited. Collections of the Nova Scotia Historical Society. 1961. Vol. 33, pp. 26-27.
  67. ^[bare URL PDF]

External links[edit]