"The 1868 Church
The 1868 Church
"After a number of unsuccessful attempts to resolve the difficulties with First Presbyertian Church, the newly formed congregation rented St Nicholas Hall on Broughton Street as a temporary home at a cost of $12 per month. Almost immediately they set about the task of building a new church.
"The lot was cleared, ground broken on August 4th and the cornerstone laid with a full Masonic ceremony on August 20th. There, representatives from Nanaimo and New Westminster and both the Grand Lodge of Scotland and the newly formed Grand Lodge of England participated. Rev Somerville, as the Chaplain of the Scottish Lodge, opened the ceremonies by depositing coins, a Masonic scroll and newspapers in an metal box in the stone. In a Masonic tradition, the plumb, level and square were applied by the officers of the Order and the Grand Master gave three knocks saying "May the Almighty Architect of the Universe look down with benignity upon our present undertaking and crown the edifice with success". Wine, corn and oil were applied to the cornerstone and the 100th Psalm sung. In his comments, Rev Somerville praised the recent decision the Lords and Privy Council to place Presbyterians, Methodists and Episcopalians on equal footing in the colonies.(1) The contents of the stone were recovered when the building was demolished in 1935 and the stone itself occupies a place of honour in the current church.
"The total cost of the new church was about $12,000 with the Church of Scotland contributing a very generous $7,500 and the Presbyterian Church in Canada $300. $575 was raised by the ladies of the church at soirees and concerts with tickets to the gala purchased broadly throughout the community. As was the practice of the day pews were rented by subscription and most had been sold before opening day. The church was dedicated and opened on April 4, 1869 with the service taken by Mr Lindsay of Portland in the morning and Mr Aitkens of First Presbyterian Church in the afternoon.
"The gothic style church measured 82 ft 10 inches by 50 ft and could accommodate about 250. In 1881, the congregation acquired a new organ. The local newspaper reported that "besides being nearly as wide again as the Methodist instrument it is much loftier and will altogether present a much fined appearance. As John Robson, and elder of the Church was also the editor, we cannot altogether discount a degree of Presbyterian bias in the account. (3) The main pipes of this original organ remain a prominent part of the magnificent instrument that serves the church to this day. The building continued to serve the congregation until 1890 when it could no longer accommodate the burgeoning church attendance. After it was deconsecrated, it served as the first office for the Province Newspaper. Later still when the newspaper re-located to the mainland, it was converted to a garage and automobile display room. In 1935, the building was finally demolished to make way for a new bus depot. The cornerstone was recovered and for some years served as the baptismal font in the new church." (Link 2.)
"By 1888 the congregation had grown to almost 400 and the original church was simply too small. A building committee was formed chaired by John Robson. At the time Robson was the editor of the British Colonist and a long time elder of the church. By June 19th, a site had been acquired at the corner of Douglas and Broughton at a cost of $7,000 largely because it was less expensive than other options considered. Although the city was going through tough economic times, the church had some assets at its disposal including the old church, a hall on Broughton Street and two manses. The church also had a small group of active members including Robson, Robert Dunsmuir and R.P. Rithet who were among the wealthiest men in the city.