In­ver­ness, Rich­mond County churches open their doors

Pop­u­lar 'Doors Open' con­cept comes to Cape Bre­ton Septem­ber 9 and 10

The Victoria Standard - - Culture/Heritage - CAROLYN BAR­BER

Mar­garet Herd­man, Places of Wor­ship Com­mit­tee Chair for the Her­itage Trust of Nova Sco­tia, re­cently re­ceived an in­quiry from a small ru­ral church mem­ber.

“Do you re­ally think they’ll come?” they asked.

Mar­garet is hop­ing for good turnout to the firstever Cape Bre­ton Church Doors Open event. Since early May, Mar­garet has been co­or­di­nat­ing the event in co­op­er­a­tion with Ro­man Catholic and Protes­tant churches.

Lo­cal con­gre­ga­tion mem­bers will wel­come vis­i­tors on Satur­day, Septem­ber 9 from 10am to 4pm and on Sun­day, Septem­ber 10 from 1pm to 4pm for free self-guided tours of 19 Rich­mond and In­ver­ness County churches.

His­to­rian Jim St. Clair gath­ered the list of churches from which the 19 were se­lected by the com­mit­tee. While most are still well-used, some of th­ese build­ings are no longer in ac­tive use for wor­ship. Nonethe­less, they rep­re­sent a sig­nif­i­cant com­mu­nity re­source that was highly val­ued by early set­tlers. And some will find new pur­poses in the fu­ture.

Ac­cord­ing to an August 25 press re­lease by Her­itage Trust of Nova Sco­tia, places of wor­ship are be­com­ing “en­dan­gered, es­pe­cially in ru­ral Nova Sco­tia”.

“Part of it is be­cause con­gre­ga­tions are de­creas­ing in many ar­eas as peo­ple move away. The com­mu­ni­ties are also smaller as well. They’re not all en­dan­gered, but a lot of them are,” said Mar­garet by phone from her home out­side of Arichat, NS.

St. Mar­garet of Scot­land on River Denys Moun­tain has just two ser­vices a year now, and they work hard to keep those go­ing.

Mar­garet’s lo­cal church, St. John’s the Angli­can, in Arichat, has been de­con­se­crated (no longer owned or used by a church) and is now owned by a com­mu­nity group. It was built in 1895 by ar­chi­tect Wil­liam Critchlow Har­ris.

“He was very well known as some­one who cre­ated spa­ces with re­ally good acous­tics. As a re­sult, the group is think­ing about it as a space for con­certs.”

Some churches be­come reg­is­tered her­itage sites. Com­mu­nity mem­bers are of­ten the driv­ing force in ob­tain­ing her­itage sta­tus for a church.

“I think it [her­itage sta­tus] sig­ni­fies that it is of great im­por­tance to the com­mu­nity. It also means that it’s rec­og­nized by the Mu­nic­i­pal­ity or the Province as be­ing very im­por­tant to the com­mu­nity in terms of her­itage.”

Mar­garet en­cour­ages the public to visit some of the smaller, more iso­lated ru­ral churches on the tour. She plans to ex­tend Cape Bre­ton Churches Door Open to other ar­eas of the Is­land next year.

For up to date in­for­ma­tion about this year’s tour, visit www.face­book.com/ Her­itage trust nova sco­tia.

Her­itage Trust of Nova Sco­tia, founded in 1959, is a non-profit reg­is­tered char­ity whose goal is to con­serve build­ings and sites of historic sig­nif­i­cance, and to pro­mote this im­por­tant cul­tural com­po­nent of Nova Sco­tia’s iden­tity. Among its ac­tiv­i­ties, The Trust pre­pares ed­u­ca­tional ma­te­rial, in­clud­ing books, pub­lishes a quar­terly, and hosts a se­ries of lec­tures which are free and open to the public.

His­to­rian and Vic­to­ria Stan­dard colum­nist Jim St. Clair gath­ered the list of churches from which 19 were se­lected for the Cape Bre­ton Church Doors Open coming up on Septem­ber 9 &10. The map in­cludes data re­pro­duced and re­dis­tributed with the per­mis­sion of Ser­vice Nova Sco­tia & Mu­nic­i­pal Re­la­tions

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