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New Mills United Church Pastoral Charge 1852-1992

Historical Background


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 learned English.

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

Film F15408