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Church made Rapid Growth

From this time forward the Church made rapid growth and progress. Congregations were formed, and suitable pastors settled over them. Home missions were established to aid the weaker churches. It was a time of strengthening and enlargement.

On April 16, 1813, over a hundred years ago, a Bible Society was organized at Durham, N. S., the first in the County and the second in the Province, that in Truro being first. The first contribution received for the Bible Society, London, from any place outside of England, came from Pictou County. Money was a rare commodity in those days, but, in 1807, two hundred and fifty-six dollars, and, in 1808, three hundred and twenty dollars were collected in the county and sent to the London Society. In 1825, the Society was reorganized, with headquarters in Pictou. In 1840 the New Glasgow district was organized into a branch of its own.

For forty-four years Dr. McGregor labored in the County. He died on the third day of March, 1830. He had lived to see the congregation of which he was originally the sole Pastor grow and develop into six congregations with settled pastors, a Presbytery and a Synod organized to conduct the business of the church, an Academy and Seminary founded to educate and train ministers, and the cause of Presbyterianism firmly established in the Maritime Provinces.

Dr. McGregor was twice married, first to Ann, daughter of Roderick McKay, by whom he had James, Christina (Mrs. Abram Patterson, Pictou), Roderick, Jessie (Mrs. Charles Fraser, Green Hill), Sarah (Mrs. George McKenzie, New Glasgow), and Robert.

In 1812 he married Mrs. Gordon, widow of Rev. Peter Gordon, by whom he had Mary (Mrs. (Rev.) John Cameron, Nine Mile River), Annabel (Mrs. (Rev.) John Campbell), Sherbrooke, and Peter Gordon.

His successor in the New Glasgow congregation was Rev. David Roy, who was inducted, April 13, 1831.

Four years after Dr. McGregor's death, Mr. Ross died, in the sixty-fifth year of his age. For thirty nine years he wrought with great faithfulness and diligence. Besides pulpit and pastoral duties, he gave considerable time to public affairs. He took a deep interest in education, being a trustee of Pictou Academy from its beginning, till his death. He was a pioneer in the organization of temperance work. The idea of a total abstinence Society originated at the West River, and the honor of forming the first Society on this basis in Nova Scotia, and the second in Canada, belongs to its founders. It was organized in January 1828, and Rev. Duncan Ross, George McDonald and Donald McLeod were the prime movers.

Mr. Ross' last public act was assisting at a Communion service in Pictou, town, and taking a leading part in the ordination of Alexander McKenzie, a young student from the Seminary. He married Miss Elizabeth Creelman of Stewiacke, and had a family of fifteen children. Two of the sons were Rev. James Ross, D.D., afterwards Principal of Dalhousie College, who succeeded him, and Rev. E. Ross of Truro. A daughter who was married to Mr. Miller, Rogers Hill, gave three sons to the ministry, and another married to Mr. Crockett, gave two sons.

We now come to the story of the Kirk in the County of Pictou. For many years, a large number of the immigrants, chiefly from the Highlands of Scotland, who had settled in Pictou, belonged to the Church of Scotland or the Kirk. They naturally had great affection for the church of their fathers, but continued to attend the Anti Burgher Church, which was the only Presbyterian Church within their reach. From time to time, many of them were appointed elders and office bearers in Dr. McGregor's and Mr. Ross' congregations. A spirit of harmony and cooperation prevailed. But, alas, a root of bitterness sprung up. Upon this unfortunate story it would be vain to dwell.

At that time Rev. Donald Allan Fraser came from Scotland and landed at Pictou in 1817. Sometime afterwards a large number of the Kirk people withdrew from the connection altogether, and formed themselves into the Church of Scotland in Nova Scotia with Rev. Mr. Fraser as their leader. Mr. Fraser was a man eminently qualified to gain the hearts and affections of the Highlanders young and handsome, an accomplished scholar and a powerful Gaelic preacher. The first congregation organized was at McLennan's Brook. There were about forty families settled there at that time, all Highlanders. They extended to him a call which he accepted.

They erected a frame church capable of seating about five hundred persons. This was the first church in the County erected in connection with the Church of Scotland. Beside it, they built a log house for himself and his wife.

Next year a church was built at Fraser's mountain. about six miles from McLennan's Brook and two miles from New Glasgow. There were some twenty-five families connected with it, and it became in course of time, the nucleus from which St. Andrew's Church, New Glasgow was formed. Here Mr. Fraser continued to labor with great acceptance and success until 1837, when, to the regret of his congregation, he removed to Lunenburg. Thence he went to St. Johns, Newfoundland, and founded St. Andrew's Church. He died, Feb. 7, 1845, greatly honored as a preacher and as a man. He was the first Presbyterian minister settled in Newfoundland. His son, late Hon. J. O. Fraser, St. Johns, Nfd., spent his early manhood at McLennan's Brook.

The next Kirk congregation organized was St. Andrew's Church in the town of Pictou. It first met for worship, in the old Court House, in 1822. In 1823, a wooden building was erected. Their first minister was Rev. K. J. McKenzie, a native of Stornoway, Scotland, who came to Pictou in 1824. He was a man of fine ability and a good preacher in Gaelic and English. His labors were chiefly confined to the Town where he took a prominent part in the educational and political questions of the day. He died in 1838, in the 39th year of his age. He was succeeded by Rev. Mr. Williamson. In 1849, Rev. Andrew Herdman became pastor and ministered for thirty years. In 1866, a brick and stone building was erected. It was burnt in 1893, but rebuilt shortly afterwards.

The next organization after Pictou town was West Branch and East River formed into one congregation. The two districts were nearly equally divided in the number of families, between the Kirk and the Anti Burghers. For many years Dr. McGregor supplied the one section, and Mr. Fraser the other.

Rev. Angus McGillivray succeeded Dr. McGregor in 1824. The Kirk people were without a settled minister until 1832 when Rev. John Macrae came from Inverness, Scotland to be their pastor. Both parties now had regular services, but there was only one church in each district occupied by Kirk and Anti Burghers on alternate Sabbaths. In 1815 framed buildings were erected at St. Paul's, East River, on the hill above the present church, and at the West Branch, on a hill near Cameron's Brook, not far from St. Columba's Church. Mr. Macrae entered upon his work with great zeal and continued to labor most acceptably to the people for 16 years, when he returned to Scotland.

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Pictonians at Home and Abroad, 1914

 

Pictou County


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