© LaHave Islands Marine Museum Society Web design by Robert Ylkos
THE MUSEUM WILL REMAIN CLOSED FOR THE 2020 SEASON DUE TO OUR INABILITY TO ALLOW FOR SOCIAL DISTANCING.
The museum will reopen on June 1, 2021.
The Original Church
The first church built on Jenkin’s Island (now part of Bell’s Island) was the Methodist Church, a small building constructed in 1881. It was located across the channel from the Government Wharf. Rev. C.M. Tyler was the minister and Rev. J.G. Angwin preached the dedicatory sermon. The congregations soon outgrew this church, and a new one was commissioned about 200 yards away.
The old church later became the home of the Arthur Bush family. Today the building is no longer standing. The Island people have always been very handy at recycling their buildings, etc for other purposes.
Picture of the original church (far right) on Bell’s Island. The new church can be seen on the left.
After a brief period of vacancy and being subjected to considerable vandalism, the building was presented by deed to the LaHave Islands Marine Museum Society’s president Collin Hirtle, by the Rev. James Hicks, for the consideration of one dollar. On July 8, 1978 the LaHave Islands Marine Museum officially opened in the former United Church building.
As of 2002, the building is also now recognized as a municipal heritage property.
It is most fitting that these churches which were the spiritual havens of the residents of the LaHave Islands should become the haven of those artifacts which recall to them the history of the past years.
The museum is a treasure trove of memorabilia…a rosary found in the mouth of a cod, a full sized dory outfitted for fishing, a barber chair from the old shop as well as photographs, plaques and other items which tell the story of the La Have Islands. The teacher’s desk which stood in the old school house is signed on the underside of the top with the names of every teacher that taught at the Bell’s Island school. The list of items goes on and on.
The museum chose as part of its logo a picture of a fishermen leaning over the side of his double ender Bush Island boat. These boats were built on Bush Island and were the common boat used by most of the fishermen until the advent of the Cape Island boat. The double enders were outfitted with make and break engines; like those built at the Lunenburg Foundry. Their distinctive putt putt identified them long before they came into view.
Fishermen were the backbone of the La Have Islands. This museum honors them and their families and helps to preserve a record of a time when fishing was at its prime. On any summer day when we first came to these islands in the 1960’s, we would see countless boats going out to the fishing grounds and coming home loaded almost to the top with fish. Now it is a rarity to see even one or two boats go out to fish on a summer morning and the catch is far smaller than before. This is why the La Have Islands Marine Museum is so important. It gives us a glimpse into a time which is now gone forever and a way to preserve a bit of that heritage.
The New Church
The United Methodist Church that now houses the museum was built in 1913 by the Boehners Bros, of West LaHave N.S., for the sum of $2500.00. The Beohner Bros. brought the lumber, etc from their shipyard in West LaHave, down the LaHave River to the LaHave Islands. Some of the material costs for the new church were: 1000 board feet of first class spruce sheathing sold for $17.00 and a door for $2.10 and a 30 inch Gothic window for $11.00. The Church was built using both Greek Revival (steeply pitched gable roof with front gable) and Gothic Revival (pointed arched windows and clapboard wall boards). The colours chosen for the exterior were yellow with brown trim. It was called a “marine access” church because before the bridge was built the only way to access the church was by boat and the front of the church sat facing the water.
On October 12, 1913, the dedication service took place and lasted for two days. According to one newspaper account of the event, “The sight around the wharf of J.D. Sperry’s, where the boats landed was a novel one indeed—there were 78 motor boats tied up at one time that came from outlying places in addition to the scores of motor boats and rowboats belonging to the residents.” According to this same newspaper account one boat carried 100 people, and it was estimated that 300 people could not get in the church. The collection for the two days amounted to $200.00. The first organist in the new church was Mrs. Ada Walfield.
In the early days, the people of the islands would actually head by boat & foot to the LaHave Islands Churches. The clergy had to time the church services according to the rise and fall of the tides. They had to cross Crescent Beach on horseback as the beach, in the earlier days, had no road and then be ferried by boat to the churches.
The church continued to be used until June 18, 1975 when the South Shore Presbytery officially disbanded the congregation of the United Methodist Church.
The new church during construction.
The completed United Methodist Church.
Inside the church during the last service.
Parishioners arrive for the last service held at the United Methodist church in 1975.