A Short History

St. Paul’s Anglican Church

Corner of Grafton, Church and Prince streets, Charlottetown, PEI.

You are now in the parish church of what was once the Parish of Charlotte and is now the Parish of St. Paul’s. We invite you to look around the church, to sit and pray for a while in its quietness. Perhaps then you can leave refreshed in mind and ready to continue your sightseeing in Charlottetown. The Rector, Church Wardens, Parish Council and congregation wish you a happy holiday.

On June 28, 1769, the Island of St. John was established as a separate colony. The Order in Council stated that "one hundred pounds be apportioned for the stipend of a clergyman" and in August of the same year the Rev. John Caulfield was appointed rector of the Parish of Charlotte, a position he held for four years without ever setting foot on the Island.

In 1768 and 1773 the Rev. John Eagleson, a missionary of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, conducted services in many parts of the Island. Eagleson provided the first opportunity for citizens to hear a Protestant clergyman since the Island became a separate Government.

Theophilus Desbrisay was appointed rector of the parish on September 21, 1774. While on his way in 1775 to take over his charge he was taken prisoner at Canso by American revolutionary privateers who had plundered Charlotte Town. Released without his possessions, he journeyed to Charlotte Town to find that there was no church and that no provision had been made for housing, food, or payment of his stipend. He took service on one of His Majesty's ships of war as chaplain for more than two years, visiting the Island as opportunity offered. In 1777, the British Government guaranteed payment of his stipend and he assumed his parish duties. The first entry in parish records bears the date August 21, 1777.

Services were held in Richardson's Coffee House Ballroom until 1790 when Lieutenant Governor Fanning bought a house from Captain Burns and "appropriated one part for the performance of Public Divine Service." Two chalices used in services in 1777 are still in the possession of the church today.

In 1795, work began on the erection of a church in the general area of what is now Memorial Hall in the Confederation Centre of the Arts. Services were held in that church in 1796, but the building was not completed until 1802 or 1803. The church was for the use of both the Church of England and the Church of Scotland and was never consecrated.

The Tables of the Lord's Prayer, the Ten Commandments, and the Apostle's Creed, which you will find on the walls of the present church, were presented by the family of Lieutenant Governor Fanning and were first hung in the sanctuary of the first St. Paul's.

In 1831, a contract was let for the construction of a larger church on a site later granted by the Governor in Council and deeded to the Rector, Wardens and Vestry on the authority of King William IV in 1836. The church was under construction just south of the present church when it was blown down by a severe windstorm in 1833. Rebuilding was undertaken in 1835 and the completed church was consecrated by the Bishop of Nova Scotia on August 21, 1836. The church cost approximately 1,000 pounds sterling to erect.

That church was enlarged twice at the east end, first in 1845, and again in 1873-4 when a brick chancel was built. The chancel included a five-pane stained glass window and rose windows obtained from England. The stained glass window, enlarged to seven panels, together with the rose windows were installed in the south transept of the present church in 1896.

The second St. Paul's was replaced by the present stone structure in 1896 and was consecrated by the Lord Bishop of Nova Scotia in August of that year. The church architect was Mr. W.C. Harris, A.R.C.A.; the contractors were Messrs. H. and S. Lowe; the painter was Alexander L. Howatt; the wood carver was W.C. Whitlock. The building was completed in eighteen months at an approximate cost of 18,500 dollars.

When you stand at the church entrance, you will note the harmonious proportions of all parts of the building with its beautiful stained glass memorial windows. The wooden groined ceiling, stained almost to a mahogany brown, adds to the warmth of the interior. It is not a large church (its capacity is about 450 people) but its architecture gives it an air of spaciousness. The chancel is constructed in such a manner that the sounds of the organ, singers, and speakers are reflected into the body of the church.

The organ, with its console to the north side of the chancel, is a three manual instrument constructed by Casavant Freres of Quebec, installed in 1936, and rebuilt in 1996.

There are many memorial tablets on the walls, some of which were transferred from the two previous churches. One to the memory of the first rector, the Rev. Theophilus Desbrisay, and another to his daughter, Penelope, who married the Rev. L.C. Jenkins, are high up on the west wall. A memorial to Lieut. Governor Edmund Fanning and his son and another to Lieut. Governor Sir Aretas W. Young are on the south wall.

The oaken communion table was designed by Mr. W.C. Harris as was the pulpit which is constructed of oak with mahogany carvings.

There are two crypts near the front door of the church. They contain the remains of two former Lieut. Governors of the Island, Sir Aretas Young and Sir Donald Campbell.

Two other stone buildings are situated on the church land. The smaller one to the south of the church was the rectory built in 1888. This was the first rectory built by the Parish. The larger one to the south-east of the church is the Parish Hall built in 1906 to replace the Infant Schoolroom. This building was extensively renovated in 1968. A chapel was built in the Parish Hall in 1940-1 for the use of Air Force Personnel training in Charlottetown. It is simple in design and has a number of stained glass windows.

A more complete history, with photographs, is available for a price of $10.00.

Our Rectors…

  • 2004 - Present - Archdeacon John W.G. Clarke
  • 2003 - 2004 The Rev. E. Paul Wilkie (Interim)
  • 1984 - 2003 Archdeacon Edward J.E. Morgan
  • 1980 - 1984 The Rev. Dr. I. David Morrison
  • 1974 - 1979 The Rev. Feversham Arnold
  • 1972 - 1974 The Rev. Whitley Trueman
  • 1969 - 1971 The Rev. Peter MacDonald
  • 1962 - 1969 The Rev. Louis Elias
  • 1944 - 1962 The Rev. James T. Ibbott
  • 1940 - 1944 The Rev. A. LeDrew Gardner
  • 1919 - 1939 The Rev. H.D. Raymond
  • 1909 - 1918 The Rev. T.W. Murphy
  • 1904 - 1909 The Rev. Samuel Woodroofe
  • 1899 - 1904 Rev. Leo Williams
  • 1896 - 1899 The Rev. John Bryan
  • 1890 - 1896 The Rev. William Hamlyn
  • 1887 - 1890 The Rev. Samuel Weston-Jones
  • 1885 - 1887 The Rev. Charles O'Meara
  • 1857 - 1885 The Rev. David FitzGerald
  • 1854 - 1857 The Rev. Charles Lloyd
  • 1828 - 1854 The Rev. Louis Jenkins
  • 1827 - 1828 The Rev. William Walker
  • 1823 - 1826 The Rev. Thomas Adin
  • 1774 - 1823 The Rev. Theophilus Desbrisay
  • 1773 - 1774 The Rev. John Eagleson* (visited 1768 and 1773)
  • 1769 - 1774 The Rev. John Caulfield (did not leave Britain)

* The Rev. John Eagleson was sent to the Island by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel to conduct services in 1768 and 1773. He was the first Church of England clergyman to visit the Island.