Inverness, Richmond County churches open their doors
Popular 'Doors Open' concept comes to Cape Breton September 9 and 10
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