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Free Church of Scotland

8794 Rte. 19, DeSable, Prince Edward Island, C0A, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2010/03/26

Front elevation; Province of PEI, F. Pound, 2009
Front elevation
Spire; Province of PEI, F. Pound, 2009
Side elevation; Province of PEI, F. Pound, 2009
Side elevation

Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2012/01/24

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Free Church of Scotland in DeSable is a rural maritime vernacular church built in the meeting house style with New England architectural influences.

Heritage Value

The Free Church of Scotland in DeSable is valued for its age, its construction and its connection with the McDonaldite Church movement and the Free Church of Scotland.

This church is one of a number of churches established in the province by Scottish-born Rev. Donald McDonald (1783-1867). This church in DeSable was the largest west of Charlottetown, capable of seating 500. Ordained as a Church of Scotland minister, McDonald worked as a missionary minister in the Highlands of Scotland and Cape Breton prior to relocating to Prince Edward Island in the 1820s. McDonald experienced a deep spiritual awakening and ministered to the followers of his church, or "McDonalites" as they were known, for 40 years. McDonald lived amongst his adherents, having no home or family. Another long-serving minister was Rev. John Goodwill who led services for 40 years.

The current church was built in 1855 by Silas MacFarlane replacing a circa 1822 church on the same site. A spire was added some years later. In 1946 the original roof shingles were removed and replaced. In 1988 the sandstone foundation was replaced with concrete and in 1990 vinyl siding covered the building except for the spire and carved ornate woodwork on the tower. The original pews were replaced in 1931. The interior of the church is unique in the province in that the floor plan has a raised pulpit on the north side of the nave, similar to New England meeting house architecture.

The Free Church of Scotland is an impressive building visible from land and sea. A landmark in the area, the church is a symbol of the province's early Scottish settlement.

Source: Culture and Heritage Division, Department of Tourism and Culture, Charlottetown, PEI
File #: 4310-20/F2

Character-Defining Elements

The heritage value of the church is shown in the following character-defining elements:

- the pointed-arch Gothic windows
- the square tower with carved wood graphic details over the window
- the roof pitch
- the wood-shingled hexagonal spire with various shingle patterns, eave brackets and eight gabled niches
- the thistle motif weathervane
- its location overlooking the DeSable River



Prince Edward Island

Recognition Authority

Province of Prince Edward Island

Recognition Statute

Heritage Places Protection Act

Recognition Type

Registered Historic Place

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




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Source: Culture and Heritage Division, Department of Tourism and Culture, Charlottetown, PEI File #: 4310-20/F2

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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