Description of Historic Place
This church is located prominently on Church Street in Alberton. The building has a rectangular configuration with a large square entrance tower with four finials on its roof. There is an array of large pointed arch Gothic windows on the facade. The bell tower has louvres and round oculus windows. The gable roof has large eave returns. The registration includes the building and its lot.
The church is valued for its association with the history of the Presbyterian and United churches in Alberton; for its Gothic style architecture; and for its contribution to the streetscape.
This church was built in 1857 to replace an earlier structure which had been destroyed by fire. It was moved to this location in 1927 from its original spot - some 150 metres east. This occurred in the wake of the 1925 formation of the United Church of Canada, when this building became home to the new United Church - while those non-conforming Presbyterians left to worship in the former Methodist church building. It, too, was moved so that in essence, both buildings exchanged sites!
The church became known in its history as the "Old Dock Church" likely because it was located near the Dock River. Alberton natives, Reverend George N. Gordon and his wife, left the area in 1856 to serve as missionaries in the New Hebrides in the South Pacific. In 1861, they were murdered by the indigenous population. Tragically, George's brother, Reverend James D. Gordon, volunteered to take their place there, and he, too, was killed at Erromanga in the New Hebrides in 1872. In memory of this sacrifice, the church was renamed the Gordon Memorial.
Local historian and active member of the congregation, Alice (Gordon) Green (1908-1980), made a visit to the South Pacific Island of Erromanga, where the Gordons had been martyred, in 1968. Representatives from the area later made a friendship visit to PEI in the early 1970s.
A minister of the church was Rev. David MacDonald from 1962-1965. He later served as MP for Egmont and Secretary of State for Canada, Minister of Communications, and Minister responsible for the Status of Women. He also authored books on human rights in Latin America and the tragic events in the short lived African nation of Biafra.
The church retains many of its original Gothic elements, even though the exterior has been clad in vinyl siding in recent years. It continues to be a landmark in Alberton.
Source: Culture and Heritage Division, PEI Department of Communities, Cultural Affairs and Labour, Charlottetown, PE C1A 7N8
File #: 4310-20/A14
Character-defining elements that reflect the heritage value of the church include:
- the rectangular massing with gable roof and eave returns
- the Gothic pointed arch windows
- the large double staged entrance tower with louvres, oculus windows, and four finials
- the additions to the back of the building
- the location of the church on landscaped grounds on Church Street in Alberton