64 Townsend Street, Lunenburg, NS


The Heritage Committee is responsible for maintaining and caring for the many documents, photos, architectural plans, and archival material relating to St. John’s Parish. Our mandate is to ensure that the rich history of St. John’s will be secure for future generations. Members of the committee are consulted on material published by the church, related to the history of the parish.

An Interpretative Centre, located in the lower level of the church, contains the various archival material, along with other artifacts and displays. This is maintained by the Heritage Ministry in cooperation with the Rector and Wardens. Frequent requests from genealogists, historians, and other interested people are met by the detailed work of this committee.

Scroll down this page to see the historical timeline of our church.

Historical Timeline

1753Town of Lunenburg settled, June 7th
First recorded Church Service held in open air on June 17 for “Foreign Protestants” and British settlers; led by missionary the Rev. John-Baptiste Moreau
1754Construction began on a new church building, in the style of a New England meting house, with a conical tower in the German fashion. This was the only church building in Lunenburg until Zion Lutheran was built in 1772
1813The Rev. Aitken, unsatisfied with accommodations, began construction on the rectory. This building was completed by the Rev. Cochrane in ca. 1816
1814Christopher Jessem presented a bell for the conical tower and a silver flagon, chalice and paten, made in London in 1813
1820Parade square land granted to the church by the Governor of the Province, on provision that the church be the only building erected on the land
1826The church gained title to the land, and as a result was able to consecrate the building
1840A new tower was erected on the church building, 12’ square with pinnacles. Much of this tower remains to this day
1841Rev. Cossman, Lutheran pastor, given use of St. John’s while new Lutheran Church was being erected
1871The “Great Reconstruction” began, which allowed for the extension of the building, in order to accommodate a chancel and sacristy, and increase the number of pews. The church building also benefited from a new vaulted roof, lancet windows, and the painting of the apse to be blue with stars (later discovered to approximate the night sky in Lunenburg at the time of Jesus’ birth)
Mid 1800sThree windows were donated to adorn the space behind the altar. These portray Jesus, St. John the Evangelist, and St. Paul
1892The church was enlarged further and embraced a “Carpenter Gothic” style: support beams were encased with marbleized wooden pillars, additional side aisles were added, and 14 pinnacles added to the exterior roof-line
1901Electricity was brought to Lunenburg, and the church was retrofitted with electric lights
1902A carillon of ten chiming bells, cast in New York, was donated to the church; and these continue to be used on Sundays and for other services
1903The baptismal font seen today was designed and gifted to the church by the Rev. John Padfield, onetime curate at St. John’s
1904St. John’s acquired the former Lunenburg Courthouse (across the street from the church), built in 1775. This building became the Parish Hall. It contains the oldest mural in Nova Scotia, which is the Royal Coat of Arms of King George III
1920s – 1960sThe stained glass windows in the nave were designed and installed over forty years, thanks to the generosity of several benefactors. They convey the extended biblical narratives of the Christmas and Easter seasons
1926An altar, its frontispiece hand-carved to depict DaVinci’s Last Supper, was gifted as a memorial, and is still in use today
1954A two-manual pipe organ (with 1296 pipes) was installed to enhance the music ministry
1981The Fisherman’s Window in the tower, a memorial gift, was dedicated
2001On November 1st, a fire of undetermined cause devastated much of the building. The congregation discerned to restore the building, an $8 million project, and worshiped in the parish Hall during these years
2005The restoration of the building was completed, and a service of Rededication took place on June 12th
2005A new organ was installed; a Cassavant Frères with 1816 pipes. The façade pipes are decoratively stenciled to match the church’s interior
2008St. John’s welcomed back a 1717 “Vinegar Bible” printed by John Baskett. Vinegar Bibles contain a typographical error in Luke 20.9, saying “vinegar” in place of “vineyard”. This Bible was originally used by the Rev. Robert Vincent at St. John’s (1761-1765)
2011The Interpretive Centre, home to church records dating back to 1753, was granted institutional status with Nova Scotia Archives
2017St. Bartholomew‘s Chapel, a space within the sanctuary for private prayer and prayers for the healing of the sick, was dedicated

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