Description of Historic Place
The Church of the Good Shepherd, built in 1892, is a modest, wooden, country Anglican church sitting prominently on its original site at a bend in a rural road near Tidnish Crossroads, Nova Scotia. Flanked by a playground and a small cemetery, the gable end of the church faces the road, fields and homes of year-round and summer residences by the Tidnish Dock Provincial Park. The simplicity of its Maritime Vernacular style contrasts with its Gothic Revival elements and its deep red colour and white trim. The municipal designation includes the building, land and cemetery.
The Church of the Good Shepherd is valued for its original architectural details, and for having a style unique among late nineteenth century churches. Value is also found in its connection to the community and the history of the area.
The Church of the Good Shepherd no longer holds regular services and is only open in the summer. It was originally built to serve the spiritual needs of the construction workers of Henry Ketchum’s Chignecto Marine Transport Railway. The Tidnish Dock Provincial Park, across the road from the church, is the site of the project’s Northumberland Terminus. Ketchum was a prominent entrepreneur, master mariner, shipbuilder, and inventor who envisioned ships using a cross-land route between the Chignecto Bay and the Northumberland Strait. Ketchum’s plan was to have two parallel trains pulling a huge flatbed rail car that would carry a ship across the Isthmus of Chignecto. The 800 kilometer voyage around Nova Scotia from New England to the Gulf of St. Lawrence would be shortened to just 27 kilometers. Ketchum’s dream was nearing completion in 1892 when a shortage of money and government opposition ended the project. Ketchum and his wife, Sarah, summered nearby in a still-standing cottage, and she laid the cornerstone at the opening of the Church on July 13, 1892.
The Church of the Good Shepherd is a Maritime Vernacular style building modified with Gothic Revival elements. Maritime Vernacular buildings were typically simple, practical buildings that were symmetrical in shape and had clean lines and little ornamentation. This church is unusual in that its main body and tower are of two contrasting styles. The main body of this church is symmetrical. The church’s asymmetry was created in 1897 by the addition of the square, three-storey bell tower. The windows and back door of the main church are in the characteristic pointed-arch Gothic Revival style, and are accentuated with prominent drip mouldings. The windows and the main entry in the tower are simply rectangular. The vertical lines of the main church are accentuated by the board and batten siding, while the tower’s horizontal siding is a combination of regular and fish-scale shingles. The eave and frieze of the entire church are decorated with rosettes. All the trims, rosettes, bands, corner boards and mouldings are emphasized by being painted white. The open belfry of the tower is crowned by a distinctive bell cast roof. Robert Baxter and Jacob Baxter have both been credited with building the church.
Source: “Heritage Properties County, Church of the Good Shepherd” File, Cumberland County Museum
Character-defining elements of the Church of the Good Shepherd include:
- wood construction;
- original site, size and massing;
- board and batten siding;
- corner boards;
- Maritime Vernacular element of symmetry in original section of building;
- asymmetric shape created by a large square bell tower added to right side;
- contrasting styles in main body and bell tower;
- entry in bell tower;
- bell tower decorated with bands and fish-scale shingles;
- bell tower topped with open belfry and bell cast roof accented with brackets;
- rosettes decorate frieze and eave of church and tower and the bands of the tower;
- body is painted red with contrasting white trims, rosettes, bands, corner boards, mouldings and brackets under bell tower roof;
- stained glass windows;
Character-defining Gothic Revival elements of the Church of the Good Shepherd include:
- steeply pitched roof and gables;
- lancet windows accented with prominent, pointed-arch drip moulding along sides of church;
- large pointed-arch window with drip moulding in front gable;
- pointed-arch back door with drip moulding;
- triangular stained glass window in back gable.