The history of the New Mills Pastoral Charge
(consisting of St. Paul’s United Church, River Charlo, Zion Church, New
Mills, Jacquet River United Church and Belledune United Church) is largely
a history of the Presbyterian Church in this area. Most of the early
settlers in the New Mills area were from Scotland and belonged to the
established Church of Scotland. However, the first Minister sent to this
area was Rev. James Waddell, a Scottish Secession Minister inducted into
the New Mills and Bathurst charge in 1832. During Waddell’s ministry,
the first New Mills church was built. Support for the secession cause was
not strong enough in New Mills and Bathurst to support a minister
permanently and Mr. Waddell left in 1834. It was thirteen years before
another permanent minister was procured.
In 1847 Rev. Angus McMaster, another Secessionist
(or Free Churcher), accepted the call extended to him by New Mills and
began his thirty year ministry there. His congregation was very scattered
and included Point La Nim and Escuminac. Each Sunday he preached in both
English and Gaelic, since some of the transplanted Highlanders had not yet
In 1862 a second Presbyterian Minister, Rev.
Thomas Nicholson, was called to serve Charlo and Jacquet River, with Rev.
Angus McMaster remaining in New Mills. Two additional church buildings
were erected, probably early in the 1800’s. The first Jacquet River
church stood on the site of the present one at Nash Creek and was a log
building. At Charlo, the first church was a frame building with a seating
capacity of 100. Late in 1876, the log church at Jacquet River burned to
the ground and shortly thereafter was replaced by Bethel Presbyterian
Church in Nash Creek.
When Rev McMaster retired in 1877, the
congregations were reunited under one minister. Point La Nim and Maple
Green were put under the care of the minister at Dalhousie. A new church
building, the present Zion Church, was built at New Mills in 1879 –
1880. In 1899 the present church at Charlo was built.
In the twentieth century, like their counterparts
across the country, the congregations at New Mills, Jacquet River and
Charlo faced the question of Church Union – did they wish to unite with
other Presbyterian Churches, the Methodist and Congregational Churches as
the United Church of Canada. The question was unique in this area where
only the Presbyterian Church had made inroads.
The Session decided that the final vote should be
held on June 30th, 1925. At New Mills, the vote was 22 for and
19 against; at Jacquet River, it was 38 for and 38 against with the
Minister casting a deciding vote in favour; and in Charlo, the vote was
not recorded in the minutes but seems to have favoured union. The three
congregations became congregations of the United Church and together
formed the New Mills Pastoral Charge. Unfortunately, eighty-seven members
left the three United Churches to continue to worship as Presbyterians.
A congregational meeting was held in Belledune
United Church on October 20th, 1949 for the purpose of
re-organizing the congregation. Until July 1st, 1969, Belledune
United fell under the jurisdiction of the Bathurst Pastoral Charge. On the
above date, Belledune United was now attached to the New Mills Pastoral
Charge, where it presently remains.
A History of the Charlo, New Mills and Jacquet
River Congregations of the United Church of Canada,
Compiled by the Authority of the Session, 1961 MC80/17