Description of Historic Place
Saint Anne's Mission Church is located on Indian Island, a small island off Kings Head in Merigomish Harbour, Pictou County, Nova Scotia. Located on the property are a wood frame church built in 1897, a wooden glebe house built in 1891, and a cemetery. The buildings, cemetery and property are included in the provincial designation.
Saint Anne's Mission Church is valued as a representation of the long history of Indian Island as the spiritual home for the Mi'kmaq of eastern mainland Nova Scotia.
Indian Island had long been a spiritual home for the Mi'kmaq of eastern Nova Scotia, however it was not until circa 1835 that construction of a small chapel was begun and completed in 1858. By 1891 there was a need for a new church. Father Roderick MacDonald, who was both an Indian Agent for the area and parish priest at near-by Ferrona, used donations to build a new a church with a vestry. Using wood from the old chapel, MacDonald also had a glebe house built. Unfortunately the church was destroyed by a storm in 1894 before it could be completed. Father MacDonald immediately applied to the Department of the Interior for assistance in building a new church and hired Slyvester O'Donaghue to draft plans and specifications for the new project.
O'Donaghue was an experienced builder, designer and stonemason from Halifax. A number of churches and other religious buildings in eastern Nova Scotia were designed by him. Builders Angus MacDonald and Son of Truro were hired to construct the new church. Daniel Forbes and Allan MacDonald of New Glasgow were hired to build the foundation. Many members of the congregation worked closely with the builders and provided much of the physical labour for the digging of the foundation, hauling stone, grading and much of the carpentry work. The exterior of the church and the floor were completed by 1897 and the church was blessed by Bishop John Cameron in July 1897.
Saint Anne's Mission Church still holds services, though not regularly; however it continues to hold importance to its congregation. The principal service in the church takes place on the Festival of St. Anne, annually on July 26th. Saint Anne is the patron saint of the Mi'kmaq people of eastern mainland Nova Scotia
Saint Anne's Mission Church is a simple wood frame building with a gable roof and partially inset bell tower, which also forms an entrance vestibule. The round-headed windows and curved profile of the bell tower roof typify the Romanesque Revival style. Also of architectural note are the rose and trefoil windows in the bell tower and the Classical entrance design, with pilasters and pediment.
The nearby glebe house is a wooden structure made from the wood of the original 1835 church. The cemetery contains two statues; one of Jesus Christ on the cross and one of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The cemetery is no longer active.
Source: Provincial Heritage Program property files, no. 162, 1747 Summer Street, Halifax, NS.
Character-defining elements of Saint Anne's Mission Church include:
- wood frame construction;
- gable roof;
- partially inset bell tower;
- round-headed windows;
- rose and trefoil windows in the bell tower;
- Classical entrance design with pilasters and pediment.
Character-defining elements of the glebe house include:
- wood frame construction, made from wood taken from the earlier church structure.
Character-defining elements of the cemetery include:
- original and historic grave stones and monuments, with their surviving inscriptions;
- grass-covered interment areas;
- two statues, one of Jesus Christ and the other of the Virgin Mary.
Character-defining elements relating to the entire property include:
- protected location on an island;
- location in a setting long considered scared ground for the Mi'kmaq of eastern mainland Nova Scotia.