Description of Historic Place
This well preserved and maintained English Gothic style church is a prominent landmark in the Grand River and Malpeque Bay areas where it is a focal point on the landscape of the surrounding countryside. Originally constructed in 1839, its architectural features were enhanced by an 1890 renovation. Its features include a tall central square entrance tower, clerestroy windows, and faux buttresses.
The church is valued for its fine English Gothic style; for its historical association with noted Island architect, William Critchlow Harris; and for its contribution to the community of Bayside or Grand River.
Roman Catholic Scottish Highlanders from the island of Barra arrived in this area in 1792. They were encouraged to come to Lot 14 by Father Aeneas Bernard who helped them settle on land owned by Mr. Cambridge, the proprietor of Lot 14.
The earliest church on the site was a log structure built in 1810. It served as both a church and a residence or presbytery for the priest. By 1818, this crude structure was replaced by another church and the nearby cemetery was consecrated on St. Patrick's Day.
The Grand River ferry was located near this area, which made it a logical and stategic place to build a church. In pioneer days, people travelled across the water and ice of the Grand River and Malpeque Bay.
The current church was begun in 1836 and opened in 1839. Its interior was finished in 1844, the same year that a new presbytery was built nearby. Meacham's 1880 Atlas of PEI shows an engraving of both of these buildings.
In 1890, notable Island architect, William Critchlow Harris, was hired by the parish to enlarge and embellish the church. The result was magnificent and highly ornate. The building was lengthened on the east end, giving an additional side window. The square entrance tower was given a new octagonal spire with four niches featuring quatrefoil windows. A cross was placed at the peak of the spire, the Meacham engraving shows a rooster vane on the former spire. Faux buttresses were applied to the nave or body of the church and on the tower. Gothic pointed arch windows replaced the square and rectangular ones. A variety of cladding was applied to the exterior including board and batten, shingle, and clapboard.
The rich texture of surfaces on the church exterior have been painted in contrasting colours to bring out the decorative elements of Harris' work. The church remains an important architectural and cultural resource and continues to contribute to its community.
Source: Culture and Heritage Division, PEI Department of Tourism and Culture, Charlottetown, PE C1A 7N8
File #: 4310-20/S39
The heritage value of the church is shown in the following character-defining elements:
- the rectangular nave
- the wood frame and wood shingle, clapboard, and board and batten cladding
- the gable roof
- the brick chimney
- the Gothic arch windows with decorative moulding
- the faux buttresses
- the central square entrance tower which clips the front gable
- the oculus window
- the octagonal spire with four niches each having quatrefoil windows
- the cross at the apex of the cross
- the vestry or sacristy at the back of the church with gable roof