Description of Historic Place
St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church is located on the No. 4 Highway in Tracadie, Antigonish County, Nova Scotia. This Gothic Revival style church was built between 1865 and 1879. There is a cemetery located adjacent to the church. The building, cemetery and property are included in the provincial designation.
St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church is valued because it symbolizes the history of Acadian settlement on the Northumberland Strait Shore. The church is also valued because of its close association with Father Vincent de Paul and his founding of the nearby Trappist Monastery.
Although there were probably a few Acadians in the Tracadie area before the Deportation, the Acadian settlement we know today began in the late 1770s with the arrival of the Benoit and Delore families. They were followed by other Acadian families, and by both white and black Loyalists after the American Revolution. In 1803, the first priest, Father Amable Richard came to minister the forty or so families.
St. Peter's third priest, Father Vincent de Paul, who came from France to the American continent to found a Trappist monastery, is the most well-known historical figure associated with the church and community of Tracadie. Father de Paul was born in Lyons, France in 1768 and took his vows as a Trappist in 1805. Father de Paul was the founder of the Trappist Monastery at Monastery, the adjacent community to Tracadie.
Father de Paul had charge of St. Peter's Parish from 1818 to 1823 and then from 1825 to 1835. Father de Paul died at Tracadie in 1853 and was buried at the Trappist Convent cemetery. In 1903 his remains were taken up and interred in the Monastery cemetery. His remains were removed to St. Peter's Cemetery at Tracadie again in 1927.
St. Peter's Church is the third church erected by the largely Acadian congregation. The first church was a log building erected at Cemetery Point, East Tracadie. The next church was built at what is now known as the old Chapel Shore. The erection of the present church commenced in 1865 and was completed in 1870. The formal opening by his Lordship Bishop Cameron took place in July of that year.
The architecture of St. Peter's Church is a fine example of the Gothic Revival style of Roman Catholic rural churches in Canada of the nineteenth century. It has the traditional symmetrical configuration, a central steeple with octagonal belfry and spire, Gothic window arches and some distinguishing Classical detailing.
St. Peter's Church is the oldest parish in Antigonish County and the fourth oldest in the Diocese of Antigonish. Situated in an open area near Tracadie Harbour, St. Peter's Church is a prominent landmark in this rural setting. The church still holds regular services.
Source: Provincial Heritage Program property files, no. 103, 1747 Summer Street, Halifax, NS.
Character-defining elements relating to the Gothic-Revival style architecture of St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church include:
- rectangular, wood frame structure;
- symmetrical configuration;
- central steeple with octagonal belfry and spire;
- Gothic window arches;
- setting in a prominent open area in the heart of the community;
- adjacent cemetery with original grave markers.