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St. Thomas Church

4029 South River Rd, Salmon River Lake, Nova Scotia, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1998/05/11

Side elevation, St. Thomas Church, Salmon River Lake, NS; Heritage Division, NS Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2009
Side elevation
Looking toward altar, showing paint scheme, St. Thomas Church, Salmon River Lake, NS; Heritage Division, NS Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2009
Interior with altar
Front and side elevation, St. Thomas Church, Salmon River Lake, NS; Heritage Division, NS Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2009
Front and side elevations

Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2009/12/22

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

St. Thomas is a white clapboard Roman Catholic church located at Salmon River Lake, Guysborough County, Nova Scotia, on the South River Lake Road. The church is of wood- frame construction, rectangular in shape, with no protruding chancel. There is a cemetery on two sides of the building as well as a paved parking lot. This municipal designation covers the building and surrounding land.

Heritage Value

St. Thomas Church is the second Roman Catholic church built in this parish, the first being a log structure in nearby Bantry, a now abandoned community. St. Thomas Church is a monument to the Irish heritage of the community, reflected in the shamrock tracery of the Gothic windows and shamrock finials in the four dormers of the steeple, and to its builder, the well-known church carpenter, Thomas O'Neil. Mr. O’Neil built this church in 1865 on land donated by his parents. O’Neil was a master craftsman who built many churches in Nova Scotia as well as the Magdalene Islands.

This church incorporates Gothic elements, most noticeable in its window style and placement, with less common Neo-Classical elements seen in its wide, unadorned façade and wide front tower with windows on each storey. The wide cornerboards and pilasters with dentils are also evidence of this style.

Source: Municipality of the District of Guysborough Heritage Property files, number 508.

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of this property are in its construction and cultural association, including:

- Gothic Revival elements such as the locally constructed Gothic windows with shamrock tracery and recessed entrance on the front façade;
- Neo-Classical elements such as the wide decorative cornerboards, pilasters and dentils, Palladian windows elements;
- the exterior decorative trim and mouldings;
- original, locally produced clapboard siding;
- the four steeple dormers decorated with shamrock finials and vents in the steeple roof;
- square frontispiece and steeple, housing a bronze bell and three non-operating clocks set to the hour of 11 o’clock.



Nova Scotia

Recognition Authority

Local Governments (NS)

Recognition Statute

Heritage Property Act

Recognition Type

Municipally Registered Property

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Building Social and Community Life
Religious Institutions

Function - Category and Type


Religion, Ritual and Funeral
Religious Facility or Place of Worship


Architect / Designer



O'Neil, Thomas

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Municipality of the District of Guysborough, P.O. Box 79, Guysborough, N.S., B0H 1N0.

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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