Holy Cross Church, 1890


The Early History of Holy Cross Church Congregation

The consecration of a new Church at Salvage Bay (Eastport) on Tuesday, September 16th, 1890 by the Lord Bishop of Newfoundland, the Rt. Reverend Llewellyn Jones, marked the beginning of an important chapter in local Church history. The Church was dedicated to the Holy Cross Holy Cross Day being September 14th. At 3:30 p.m. that same day a Confirmation Service was held and fifty-one candidates assumed their baptismal vows.

Although September 16th, 1890 is an important date to commemorate in Church History, it must be remembered that a building in which Christians worship is only one way to define a Church. A Church is also a body of individuals who believe in Christ. Thus the opening of a place of worship is merely one way to examine the beginning of a Church congregation and such a beginning has mainly formal and ceremonial significance. Another type of origin can be dated from the arrival of the first ordained clergyman or missionary, or from the performance of the first service or rite. Perhaps the most important beginning of all to identify is the arrival of the faith itself, however that may have occurred.

The origins of the Anglican Church in the Eastport-Happy Adventure-Sandy Cove area, that is, Holy Cross Congregation, began with the arrival of the first settlers in the area. Most of the early pioneers had been previously baptized and raised in the Church of England tradition and undoubtedly desired the same for their children and descendants. To a large extent the Church roots stem back in time to the mother communities whence the founding families came. These older communities included mainly Salvage, Barrow Harbour and Keels. Most families in Salvage Bay came from Salvage; Happy Adventure was largely populated with settlers from Keels; and Sandy Cove was settled primarily form Barrow Harbour. Regarding the links with Barrow Harbour there is an interesting comment by the Rev. Charles Rock West of Salvage written in June 1870. He observed that

The Mission, or Parish, of Salvage extends from Barrow Harbour to Gooseberry Island inclusive; the inhabitants of the former place (Barrow Harbour) having chiefly removed to Salvage Bay (Happy Adventure and Sandy Cove) regular services are not held there as formerly, but at Salvage Bay aforesaid
Previous to 1862, Salvage formed part of King's Cove Mission. Flat Island and Gooseberry Island were in the Greenspond Mission. In 1862 Salvage welcomed its first resident Missionary, the Reverend Charles Rock West. The visiting missionaries to Salvage, Barrow Harbour and vicinity before 1862 were based in King's Cove and these included from 1841 to 1862 - Benjamin Smith, John Moreton and William Kirby. The Reverend Wm. Kirby performed the first recorded baptism in our area on September 26, 1858 when he christened Mary Ann Powell (born Nov. 26, 1855) and Jane Powell (born April 11, 1858). Both children were the daughters of Richard and Isabella (nee Hancock) Powell of Little Happy Adventure. This entry is found in the Register Book for Salvage Mission containing Baptism 1841-1878.

In this same source baptisms to children in the Eastport-Happy Adventure-Sandy Cove area occur with regularity from the late 1860's. At this time also Salvage was without a resident clergyman and the Rev. Wm. Kirby again visited from King's Cove. Among those whom he baptized were:

    April 21, 1867 Jesse Squire son of George and Ellen born December 19, 1865 at Salvage Bay (I believe this is also the first birth recorded for Salvage Bay).
    June 6, 1867 Martha Ann Dyke daughter of Joseph and Susannah, born December 31, 1866 at Salvage Bay.

When he came on March 9, 1868, the Rev. Mr. Kirby baptized four children born at Salvage Bay.

These were: Clara Burden daughter of Henry and Mary William Brown son of William and Susan Hannah Crisby daughter of Joseph and Mary Rosanna Dyke daughter of Joseph and Susannah

The earliest recorded baptism for a child born in Sandy Cove was Henry Thomas Powell. son of Robert and Charlotte on January 22, 1870. The next children baptized in Happy Adventure were James Turner son of William and Elizabeth and Martha Turner daughter of Abraham and Mary Ann on January 30, 1870. In their own specific ways these events and dates signal important sign-posts in the beginnings of Holy Cross congregation.

Chapel-School 1870-1890

Until May 1870 services and baptisms were held in private homes. Couples wishing to get married had to travel to Salvage, King's Cove or Greenspond. From now on however the area was provided with a public place of worship. Inside the front cover of the oldest Register Book for Salvage Mission, is a brief report describing the consecration of St. Stephen's Church at Salvage on September 28, 1865. At the bottom of the page is another narrative detailing the opening of a school and chapel at Salvage Bay.

    A Chapel-school having been erected in Salvage Bay by the inhabitants of that settlement and those of Happy Adventure, an opening service was held there on the Feast of the Ascension, May 26th, 1870, at which the Reverends C. R. West and W. R. Smith officiated. The sermon being preached by Rev. C. R. West from Gen. 28:16. The Holy Communion was administered to 17 persons and the offertory amounting to 13s/6d was applied to the Building Fund.

The building referred to was the famous little old School House which was destroyed by fire caused by an overheated stovepipe in 1895. It was the building after which the "School House Pond" near Bradleys is named, and it stood near the present-day rectory. It was a small one-room structure, designed to accommodate about forty students but frequently had many more. The text of the sermon at its opening as a Chapel from Genesis 28/16 reads:

    "And Jacob awakened out of his sleep and he said, Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not".

The Communion service held on May 26th, 1870 was probably the first public Church service held in Salvage Bay. The first Confirmation service and first visit by a Bishop occurred on September 6th, 1873. That day Rt. Reverend Edward Field, Lord Bishop of Newfoundland, arrived from Flat Island and held "Matins with Sermon at Salvage Bay, with Confirmation of 5 males and 4 females". He was attended by the Rev. Henry Maynard Skinner, who was incumbent missionary at Salvage. The first ten baptisms in the Chapel were:

Nov. 30, 1870 Henry Hancock, s. James and Ann, Happy Adv.

Nov. 30, 1870 John Squire, s. George and Ellen, Salvage New (born Oct. 21)

Dec. 01, 1870 Eliza Napper, d. Samuel and Jane, Salvage New (born Feb. 18, 1865)

Dec. 01, 1870 Adam Napper, s. Samuel and Jane, Salvage New (born Oct. 17, 1867)

Dec. 01, 1870 Mary Napper, d. Samuel and Jane, Salvage New (born June 16, 1868)

Dec. 31, 1870 William Wells, s. William and Mary, Happy Adv. (baptized by James Hancock, layman)

Mar. 03, 1871 James Burden, s. Henry and Mary, Salvage New (born Feb. 9)

Mar. 12, 1871 Martha Turner, d. Abraham and Mary Ann. Happy Adv. (born Mar. 12)

Mar. 22, 1871 Catherine Jane Dyke. d. Henry and Catherine. Salvage New (born Feb. 14)

May 07, 1871 Frederick Moss, s. John and Mary, Happy Adv. (born Feb. 19)

(For a few years Salvage Bay was renamed Salvage New, possibly by Rev. N. M. Skinner; also sometimes Sandy Cove seems to be included under the name Salvage Bay or Salvage New).

The first three couples to exchange matrimonial vows in the School-Chapel each did so on the same day, November 24th., 1873. They were:

    William Moss and Catherine Turner, both of Happy Adventure
    Edward Matchim of Sandy Cove and Mary Wells (widow) of Happy Adventure
    Benjamin King of Sandy Cove and Elizabeth Turner of Happy Adventure.

The next two marriages established two more well-known families in our area

    William Penny of Keels and Priscilla Squire of Salvage Bay, October 26th., 1874; and Joseph H. T. Moss and Elizabeth Dyke, both of Salvage Bay, October 29, 1878.

The first services for the repose of the dead were held on behalf of:

    Benjamin King aged 59 years (born at Barrow Harbour, died at Sandy Cove, buried at Salvage Bay) Oct. 30, 1872.
    John Turner aged 67 years (son of Abraham, born at Keels, died at Happy Adventure) May 4, 1873.
    Isabella Powles (Powell) (wife of Richard, born at King's Cove, daughter of James and Ann Hancock, died at Happy Adventure) June 9, 1873. Note: she was mother of the first children baptized in Happy Adventure mentioned earlier.

In September 1878, the Rt. Rev. Llewellyn Jones, Lord Bishop of Newfoundland, made his first visit to Salvage Mission. On Tuesday, September 17th., he travelled to Salvage Ray in a steam launch owned by Mr. James Burden. merchant, who also was establishing a major farming enterprise in the area. The Bishop preached at a service read by his Chaplain but did not have a confirmation. He was accompanied by the Incumbent Missionary of Salvage, the Reverend Frederick J. I. Smith.

The little School-Chapel gave the Church of England a firm establishment and an important presence in our area. Assisted by laymen, the missionaries of Salvage held services and performed Church rites The congregation however soon outgrew the capacity of the building. The parish records kept for the old Chapel provide fascinating facts about the earliest pioneers in our area and offer documented evidence of their origins. Some of the older settlers were born early in the 19th century. Among those who passed their three-score and ten years were:

    Joseph Moss aged 72 years of Happy Adventure (born in Keels 1807) buried Dec. 21, 1879.
    Thomas Turner aged 72 years of Happy Adventure (born in Keels 1809) buried Dec. 18, 1881.
    Joseph King aged 80 years of Sandy Cove (born Barrow Harbour 1809) buried Jan. 17, 1890.

Construction of Holy Cross

By the late 1880's there were 50-60 families in the Church congregation and the population was expanding fairly rapidly. The exact start on the new Church is unrecorded. However, a note published in the Diocesan Magazine January 1890, (written by School-teacher Mr. Wm. Tulk of Salvage several months earlier) makes known that it was now nearing completion. It read:

    At Salvage Bay a New Church is almost finished, built entirely by the people. Considering the few who built it, it is a credit to the inhabitants and the Clergyman in charge.

The Clergyman in charge was the Reverend Christopher Wood a very forward looking and progressive missionary. Mrs. Wood was also an inspiring leader in promoting the status of women. She later founded the Womens Institute.

Another excerpt taken from the Diocesan Magazine February 1890 makes mention of the arrival of a new organ for the Church at Salvage Bay. Temporarily the organ was installed in St. Stephen's.

    A new American organ has just been procured for the Church at Salvage Bay, which is at present unfinished. The organ has meantime been put in the Church at Salvage. The instrument belonging to that Church is not very serviceable.

All the basic materials for the Church were hewn from the local forests, which at the time ranked among the best timbered lands on the island. All the framework, the ceilings, roof and floor boards were cut and sawn by hand. The large wooden pillars and seat-boards came from the huge white pines that formed part of primeval mature woodlands that flourished on parts of the sandy glacial soils. In this respect the Church reflects the natural heritage of its environment.

At the time of its consecration it was noted not only that it had been built through the exertions of very few people but also that being debt-free is could be dedicated and consecrated on the same day. The latter testifies to the fact that the Church reflects the heritage of faith of its people. The labour of construction was provided freely by parishioners who also raised the money needed to pay the foreman and to purchase incidentals. The only recompense was the assignment of a family pew and the privilege to worship in their faith.

The construction of the Church was supervised by Mr. Marshall. Marshall came from St. John's and was a master-builder employed by several congregations in the 1880's and 1890's through-out the diocese. When he finished Holy Cross he went on to build new Churches at Port Rexton, Trinity (St. Paul's) and Change Islands (St. Mary's). These Churches bear striking architectural similarities to Holy Cross, which makes one suppose that the plans of these Churches were provided by the Diocese. Indeed it is well-established that from the time of Bishop Field, Church construction was regulated as to layout and design.

When completed and consecrated the Chaplain of Bishop Jones had great praise for the Church of the Holy Cross. "It was", he said, "the most beautiful Church in the North".

The beautiful new Church was a remarkable achievement and undoubtedly a source of pride to those who had raised it as a symbol of their faith. It was also a Landmark symbolic of the spiritual unity among the residents of Salvage Bay, Happy Adventure, and Sandy Cove. This was the first Church ever built in Newfoundland, planned and centrally sited to serve three communities. The Bishop's Chaplain proudly proclaimed this co-operation. "The people" he wrote "are all of one heart and one mind".

When opened the Church building was not nearly as large as it is today. It consisted of the current nave, the north and south aisles, and a chancel. The original chancel was later removed when the north and south transepts (wings) were added on together with a new chancel. This work was completed in 1913-1917 and transformed the building into a cruciform (cross-shaped) structure with seating capacity for about 700 people.

Although it was not the impressive building it later became, Holy Cross Church in 1890 was nevertheless a striking and imposing edifice. In style it reproduced much that was Gothic Revival and High Victorian - architectural designs which symbolized man's striving to attain God's promises. In its presence whether inside or outside, the eyes, the mind and the spirit are lifted upward, heavenward, to contemplate the awesome grandeur and power of the Divine Creator. The inspiration is intended to be reciprocal for the faith that constructed the building is the faith that the building was designed to inspire and perpetuate.

On the very day of its consecration the Church of the Holy Cross became an important focus for Christian witness, worship and ritual. As mentioned fifty-one candidates were confirmed. Many of these were the parents, grandparents or great-grandparents of those who after a century continue to use the Church as their spiritual home. Unfortunately no list of names of those confirmed appears to survive. On consecration day 1890 were married James Hancock 24 years and Sara Turner 25 years both of Happy Adventure. Before years end two other couples exchanged their matrimonial vows. These were:

    Edward Dyke, 24 years, son of Henry of Salvage Bay and Sarah Jane Hunter, 22 years, of Salvage on December 12, 1890 and;
    John Napper, 27 years, son of Samuel of Sandy Cove and Martha Carpenter, 23 years, of Cannings Cove, B.B. on December 15, 1890.

The initial baptism in Holy Cross was recorded for Catherine Elliot. daughter of Charles and Elizabeth of Happy Adventure on September 28, 1890 (born August 22). At the next christening December 14, 1890 two children were presented - Edwin Dyke son of Henry and Susannah of Salvage Bay and Sarah Priscilla Squire daughter of William and Harriet of Salvage Bay.

The rites of burial were first read in Holy Cross on November 24, 1890 for a young woman Melinda Lane, 20 years old. Formerly Melinda Machim (Matchim) of Sandy Cove, daughter of Joseph, her marriage to Charles Lane a farmer, of Salvage Bay aged 26 years was recorded November 6th., one year earlier. Sorrowing hearts but the promise of resurrection and new life in Christ next followed for:

    The infant Elizabeth Hancock, 3 months of Happy Adventure Feb. 22, 1891
    The young man William Crisby, 19 years, of Salvage Bay Feb. 28, 1891.
    The child Sarah Priscilla Squire, 7 months, of Salvage Bay May 28, 1891.
    The elderly widow Mrs. Hannah King, 76 wars, of Sandy Cove And the child Amelia Elizabeth Turner, 1 year, of Happy Adventure

These etchings into the early record of Holy Cross Congregation begin the pilgrimage of faith associated with a building for which we now celebrate a centennial.

During it's 100 years Holy Cross has been served by more than 30 clergy and approximately 40 Lay Readers.

Reprinted with permission from: Holy Cross Church: Eastport, Newfoundland. Published Sept 1989. Copies available upon request.