Monday, August 8, 2011

Church of Scotland, Belle River / St. John's Presbyterian, Belfast

Late on Saturday afternoon we stopped into the 147th PEI Highland Games and Scottish Festival at the Lord Selkirk Provincial Park in Eldon, PEI.  This 2-day event is presented by the Caledonia Club of Prince Edward Island.  For years I've been wanting to go out to this festival but never had the chance.  We had perfect weather and the day was beautiful.  The festival consists of the following: annual kilted golf classic; step-dancing competition; Jr. heavy sports demo & competition; Jr. athletics track and field; ladies heavy sports (ie. shot put, sprint, rolling pin toss); men's heavy sports (ie. shot put, sheaf toss, bale toss, Braemore stone, caber toss, farmer's walk; Highland dancing competitions; kilt pace; Belfast Pipe & Drum Band; Belfast Ceili Band; fiddlers and local musicians and performers.
A band of pipers started their performance and march in front of the Church of Scotland then paraded down into the Park grounds - it was moving to witness and to think this has been tradition here for near a-century-and-a-half.

The large provincial park features the following:  campground; golf course and clubhouse; swimming pool; historic Acadian/Scottish cemetery; the Belle River Church of Scotland and the Caledonia Club Crofthouse.  Below: looking over the Belfast Highland Greens Golf Course.
Below:  The Belle River Church of Scotland, built in 1876.  The church was no longer needed and moved in to the park from Belle River in the late 1990's.  The interpreter, Audrey, told us about the historic site and church and the area - she represents the Belfast Historical Society.
Below:  the west /front view.
The church is very simple in design and character.
Below:  the South / right side view.
Below: the East /rear view.
Below:  exterior detailing of window casing and sill.
Below:  opposite to the Belle River Church of Scotland is the entry to the Acadian/Scottish cemetery.  This area was the site of an Acadian cemetery between 1752-1758 and where they likely built their large Catholic church which measured 30'x70'.  The Acadians came here from Nova Scotia and were poor and destitute.  Nearly all these Acadians were deported to France in 1758 on the ill-fated ship "William" - only the Captain, crew and priest survived the sinking of the ship not far from France.
The first Scottish settlers were brought to this area by Lord Selkirk in August 1803 on the ship "Polly" - these settlers were known as "The Selkirk Settlers".  This Acadian cemetery became the resting place for many of those early Scottish settlers and was lost to time and an overgrown with forest until a few years ago when it was cleared and restored to its present state.  The Historical Society was presented with an award for this restoration project.

Those early Scottish settlers established the community we see here today and built their first church in 1824 - St. John's Presbyterian Church, Belfast (see below).  The church was built in the Neoclassical architectural style which resembles the designs of Sir Christopher Wren of London, England.  It was designed and constructed by Robert Jones who kept a detailed journal of his work - the journals survived and remain in the Jones family today.
I took these photos last spring, not this past weekend, although the rain and temperature here today feels more like late fall than mid summer!!
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