Chapel of Ease, Chamcook, NB



History of 

Saint John's 

Chapel of Ease

New Brunswick

The following "history" was written by E. Muriel GRIMMER, the daughter of John Davidson GRIMMER & Agnes E. [Unknown]. 

E. Muriel was of Loyalist descent and she goes back to the Loyalist Thomas GRIMMER & Lydia WEY as follows:

          1    Thomas GRIMMER & Lydia WEY
              2    John GRIMMER & Elizabeth (Betsey) MAXWELL
                 3    George Skiffington GRIMMER &  Mary Ellen HAZEN
                     4    John Davidson GRIMMER & Agnes [Unknown]
                        5    E. Muriel GRIMMER

She also traces back to the Loyalist James MAXWELL as follows:

         1    James MAXWELL & Elizabeth (Betsey) HILL
             2    Elizabeth (Betsey) MAXWELL & John GRIMMER
                3   See #3 in GRIMMER line above

E. Muriel Grimmer is buried in the Cemetery beside St. John The Baptist Chapel of Ease, Chamcook, NB.

           Early in the 1800's there arrived in Chamcook, NB., an English gentleman, Squire John Wilson; that he was prepared to establish his home and several industries in that St. Andrews parish community is well recorded.  He was accompanied by several families who built their homes and raised their children. They assisted in grist-mill operation and in shipbuilding as well as in clearing land for their farms. 

            These early settlers have left for us a uinque evidence of their ability - a small stone chapel built on a hill, facing the Passamaquoddy Bay. Its proper name is the Chapel of Ease of Saint John the Baptist but it is often referred to and in the title of my paper or even more simply, as Saint John's Chapel.

            We know that the Rev. Samuel Andrews held religious services in Chamcook. This was brought out in the paper given by Prof. Atcheson on denominations in Charlotte County. But it was during the rectorship (1819-1858) of his successor, Dr. Jerome Alley, that funds were collected and a church building erected.

            Some records of this building, to which I shall refer, refer to its early days but most refer to later periods. They include letters and items such as bills for labour (both on the building and on the grounds), for materials used and for board and transportation of workmen. But all of them for both periods were found among the effects of my grandfather, George S. Grimmer (1826-1887) who came to live in Chamcook in 1865 during the rectorship (1859-1901) of Canon Ketchum.

            Grandfather purchased the home of the late Mr. Wilson, a large brick house which was named "Forest Lodge" by the Wilsons. This house was unfortunately lost by fire in 1882 but its name was saved and now applies to the house built on the same foundation, in which I now live. Mr. Grimmer was County Clerk. He was always active in church matters and it was as a Chapel Warden that he came by the papers I shall refer to.

            We have no records concerning the actual construction of the Chapel which took place about 1846. But we do have a well preserved ancient copy of a document that precedes construction. This is dated June 14, 1841 and its caption reads:

"We the undersigned Subscribers severely promise to pay to the Rector & Church Wardens of all Saints Church or either of them, the sums Set opposite our several names for the purpose of erecting a Chapel at Chamcook in the Parish of St. Andrews."

            Then follows a long list of 51 donors with amounts varying from 50 to 10s and totaling 144,15s. John Wilson and John Townsend each gave one acre of land. The Honorable James Allanshaw gave "5000 refuse lumber" as well as his donation of 8,5s. the chapel was consecrated July 16, 1846 by Archbishop Medley while Rev. Jerome Alley was the rector.

            We have no records of the 1846 construction but Dr. A. Ruitenbery, District Geologist, New Brunswick Department of Lands and Mines, states that it is built of local red sandstone. This belongs to the Devonian period of geological formation and is the same rock that underlies most of St. Andrews region. Besides this, there are a few basaltic pieces mixed in with the sandstone. The corners of the chapel are finished with large pieces of dressed gray sandstone that must have been brought from outside the district.

            Just what the Allanshaw gift of "500 refuse lumber" was used for is not clear but it may have been as scaffolding. There were sawmills on the nearby stream from Chamcook Lake and quite possibly this lumber was sawn in one of them.

            The chapel building was erected close to Highway No. 1 on the acre of land given by John Townsend. Its entrance was at the south and faced the road and there were three large windows on each side. We know little about the interior except that there was no proper chancel. The acre given by John Wilson was directly across the highway from the chapel and a shelter was built on it for horses of parishioners coming from a distance.

            The chapel was kept in good repair. In 1867 (two years after grandfather came to Chamcook and twenty-one years after construction), Robert Dinsmore and Daniel McCann put new shingles on the roof.  We have their bill. Robert Dinsmore worked 5 days at $ 1.12 1/2 per day. He was paid $5.62 1/2 while Daniel McCann was paid partly in shingles and partly in cash ($2.94). Total cost for shingling labor was $11.34 1/2.

            In 1860 the interior of the chapel was painted by C.A. Kennedy and his helper. Mr. Kennedy was paid $7.00, and his helper $2.10. The paint cost $4.05. At the foot of the bill submitted, Mr. Kennedy added that had "given the step-ladder a coat of paint free".

            In those days it was customary to charge parishioners pew rent to supplement other church revenues. As Chapel Warden, grandfather was responsible for collecting rents and turning them over to the rector. We have a receipt in Canon Ketchum's handwriting for $16.40, being pew rents and collections. Pew rents were $4.00 per year, payable semi-annually. Large families had two pews but some pews were shared by two families.

Extension of The Chapel

            Canon Ketchum was a great builder and in 1872 it was decided that a chancel should be added to the chapel by extending it southward toward the road. The entrance to the church was changed from the south end to the west-side facing the railway. To do this, the rear window was altered and partly closed to form a door and a porch was added. The outline of the upper part of the former window is still easily recognizable above the door, although the color of the bricks used to fill the gap is almost the same as the old Devonian sandstone in the rest of the wall.

            Angus Stinson of St. Andrews built the chancel. He was also master builder of All Saint's Church in 1867. Mr. Stinson and his helpers boarded at William Townsend's while working at Chamcook. Their board was $3.00 per week, and this was paid by the church corporation. Mr. Stinsons'  bill of July 25, 1875 for labor and materials used is informative. Wages for helpers varied from $1.25 to $1.75 per day. Mr. Stinson was paid $2.50 per day, and he worked 49 1/2 days. He itemized all screws, nails, hinges, etc., that were used. Total costs of his crew amounted to $291.34. The first payment was $130.00 in cash plus 3 dozen eggs valued at 65 cents. The remainder was settled in due time. In one corner of the bill, Mr. Stinson has written:
                 "Chancel window frame $10.00
                              Platform for font 15.00   (this is all inlaid work)
                                One door frame 3.00_

            Angus Stinson's subscription to the Church, January 28, 1875".  On January 30th, 1875 he signed this bill as "paid in full".

            We have other receipted bills. One is for loads of stone as additional costs. This was the same Devonian stone as used in 1846. Mr. James Summers hauled 160 loads at 25 cents per load. Another bill is for twenty-two blocks of dressed sandstone required for the corners. They were $1.00 each. The hired labor for building the fence, leveling the grounds, etc., was done by men of the community - William Boyd, William and Wallace Townsend,  James Pye, Joshia Craig, William Wren and Robert Linton (who signed his name on his receipt with an "x", his mark witnessed by "G.S.G".). The masons were S.H. Whitlock and John Rolls. Many of these names are inscribed on headstones in the cemetery adjoining the chapel.

            That same year (1875), C.A. Kennedy repainted the new chancel and the walls and ceiling (about 25 feet high) of the main body of the chapel. The entire painting bill was $67.57. Over the entrance to the chancel Mr. Kennedy has beautifully lettered the text:  "GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST AND ON EARTH PEACE";  and over the southeast window:  "LORD EVERMORE GIVE US THIS BREAD".

            The several beautiful stained glass windows were made by R .Lewis, London, Ontario, at 50 cents per square foot. The large north window is a memorial to the Wilson family. The smaller windows were given by the Johnson, Townsend, and Grinmer families. The chancel is in memory of Mrs. Thomas Wyer. She was Miss Mary Hunt who is said to have been the first white child born in Chamcook. She died in 1801 aged 36 years. Her window depicts the Ascension of Christ with the text, "I GO TO PREPARE A PLACE FOR YOU".

            To help pay for these alterations and repairs grandfather arranged for a picnic at his home in Chamcook, September 2, 1874. We have a receipt from the New Brunswick and Canada R.R. for $25.00, paid by grandfather for a picnic excursion train from St. Andrews. It is signed by H.A. Julian. Other bills pertaining to this picnic were from Saint Croix Courier for printing of 300 tickets, from H.O'Neill for supplying 55 lbs. of meat @ 9 cents per lb., and finally from Lee Street (who owned a drug store) for supplying two baskets of perfumery @ 45 cents, 2 bottles plain and 2 fancy perfumery @ $3.10, and 4 oz. Tartarica acid @ 8 cents per oz. Besides the picnic, a concert was held at the Argyll Hotel, which stood near the present Lady Dunn Trade School, St. Andrews. The net proceeds from the sale of 134 tickets at 25 cents each helped pay for alterations to the chapel.

The deducted expenses were:
                Trucking benches         .80
                       Moving piano        .40
    Capt. Herbert (for lights)      $1.50
    Discount on the dollar ____     .20

Furnishings and Fittings

            Cost of furnishings and fittings purchased at the time of the building extension are listed in other bills. Frames for the windows were made by Vroom Bros. In St. Stephen. Five of these cost $5.00 each but the large north window frame was listed at $29.00.  Pews and other furnishings were made in Woodstock, N.B. by Chas. W. Raymond and shipped by rail to Chamcook. Mr. Raymond's covering letter, dated December 18, 1874, asks "that there be men ready to help unload quickly so as not to keep the train waiting and to handle the things with care."

           These included:
                    18 seats for the Nave @ $6.75             $121.50
                    2 screens for fronts 5.00                           10.00
                    4 choirseats 3.50                                      14.00
                    2 screens for choir 5.00                            10.00
                    Prayer desk                                                1.50
                    Altar table                                                   7.00
                    Altar rail                                                      5.00
                    Freight paid to Chamcook                         12.00
                                                                                $ 182.00

            Mr. Raymond's letter goes on to say, "Miss Elizabeth Ketchum has worked a very beautiful cover for a kneeling bench to the Prayer desk which I have made up and it and the kneeling bench cover is offered as a present to your Church - I have also made a Vestry chair which, as Christmas is near at hand, I wish it to be my Christmas gift to the Church, with my best wishes for its prosperity."

            The wood Mr. Raymond used for the above articles is ash and it has retained its pleasing appearance to this day. And Elizabeth's hand-worked cover for the kneeling bench for the reading desk is still in good condition after nearly 100 years. I myself worked a cover for the sanctuary kneeling bench. Its pattern and colors are the same as Elizabeth's and it is in memory of Thelma Borriault, a God child christened in the chapel.

            The carpet for the chancel was bought at Skinner's in Saint John at 5 shillings per yard. A doormat was also bought at the same time for $1.45. On the order form, of which we have a copy, it is mentioned that "it must be a good one as there is much tracking in of mud and snow."

            In 1883 grandfather bought an organ for the chapel from Hunt Bros. of Boston, Mass. It cost $60.00 and in clearing it through Customs there was some difticulty in deciding who should pay the duties.  A letter from Hunt Bros. settled this matter by saying "the value of the organ with duty paid (illegible) will be $80.00, very cheap at that. We have no more to sell at that price." The organ was in service for about 65 years. Long use and lack of heat in the building damaged its chords. It was replaced by another of the same type which gave good service until 1967 when an electric organ was given by friends. It was consecrated by the Rev. Canon McAlden, a former rector of St. Andrews parish, at a special service arranged by our present rector, the Rev. J.F.N. Jones.

Later Records and Modern Times

            Electric lighting was added to the church in 1961 as a memorial to a former parishioner, by Mrs. H. Higgins. This has added much to the usefulness of the chapel because, until we had this facility, all services were held in the daytime. Now we enjoy evensong during the summer months. An infrared heating fixtures installed by All Saints Church Corporation in 1964, makes the building comfortable on cold days. The original heating unit was a large wood stove at the rear of the nave. This is still used in the coldest weather.

            The chapel is well cared for and there are many beautiful memorials. The communion silver is a gift by the Johnson family which was prominent in the early days of the chapel; the altar is in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Davidson Grimmer; the brass cross on the altar is in memory of a former rector, Canon Bertram Hooper;  two brass vases were given by the Grimmer family; one by the Sunday School from a former pupil, Francis Lee; and the fourth for a little child, Kenneth Staples. The brass alms basins, the new prayer books and hymnbooks were given by the Girls and Junior Womens Auxiliary of All Saints Church. The brass candlesticks are in memory of Mr. Sydney Martin, given by his sister, Mrs. Alton Kelly. A brass plaque on the wall is in memory of Coy. Qr. Sarj. Harold Mackie Grimmer, Canadian Mounted Rifles, killed in action in France, August 27, 1918. Two beautiful hangings for the various church seasons were made and given by the Girls Auxiliary of All Saints Church under the direction of their faithful, long time leader, Mrs. Clyde Tucker.

            There have been some changes since grandfather handled the documents I have reviewed with you. We have mentioned some of these. But the chapel still ministers to the needs of the parishioners and visitors are always welcome at services conducted every Sunday by our Rector. Infants come to be baptized, young couples to make marriage vows, and those whose lives are over come to be laid to rest in the quiet church yard with those who long ago built this little chapel by the side of the road. On its door is this inscription that all who come may read:

IN 1967


            I wish to thank Dr. A. Ruitenberg, District Geologist, New Brunswick Department of Mines, for information on the types of stone used in building the chapel; Mr. Wm  McNullon for preparing photographic illustrations and Dr. J.C. Medcof, Chairman, CCHS Committee on research and Publications, for encouraging me in this study and for assistance and advice in composing this paper. Literature References

1. Denominationalism in a loyalist county, by Thomas William Acheson, 1967. Contribution from Charlotte Co. Historical Society, No. 30.
2. Brief history of the Anglican Church, St. Andrews, N.B. by Mrs. Harold Robinson, 1947. Privately printed for All Saints Parish Guild.


1. June 1841 list of subscribers pledging support for chapel construction.
2. Receipt issued 1869 by Canon Ketchum to George S. Grimmer covering submission of chapel pew rents and collections.
3. Receipted bill issued 1873 by James Summers for hauling stones for extension of chapel.
4. Receipted bill issued 1874 by New Brunswick and Canada R.R. for picnic excursion train.
5. Receipted bill issued 1875 to G. Grimmer by Angus Stinson for carpenters labor and materials
    involved in chapel extension.

Page Mounted  1 Aug 2000


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