Archive for the ‘Kingston’ Category

This article was submitted by Donald E. Holmes.

Wellington Barracks, Halifax, Nova Scotia

The men and women who work voluntarily in close proximity with pastors in any congregation, regardless of denomination, deserve mention. In this instance they came from Kingston, PEI, and they are limited to five families, so that the character of the church is akin to a large family. The ten deacons in this agrarian community were all men as one might expect from the time period—late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Charles Holmes, born in Froxfield, Wiltshire, England, in 1818, joined the British Army and at an early age, served in India for a time, then went to Canada. He commanded the first regiment to occupy Wellington Barracks, Halifax, at its opening. After discharge from the Army, he settled in East Wiltshire (Kingston) PEI in 1852.

Charles Holmes was 34 years old when he landed on PEI where he farmed and was a very devout Christian who became the first of ten deacons of the Kingston Baptist Church. These were the men who served as deacons in this small wooden, rural church.

  • Captain Charles Holmes – October 2, 1818 – March 24, 1909
  • William Ward _____________ — ____________ [moved to USA]
  • William Foster Fraser JP – February 1, 1841 – April 1, 1912
  • Daniel Ward – January 12, 1875 – November 9, 1946
  • William Henry Holmes – October 30, 1858 – December 24, 1913
  • James Augustus Holmes – May 30, 1863 – June 19, 1954
  • Stephen Ackland – April 18, 1873 – April 16, 1973
  • Burgess Henry Newson – January 28, 1877 – March 17, 1974
  • Parker Coles Newson – May 8, 1918 – September 10, 2008
  • Milton Irving Ward – (still living)

One unique feature of this story is that few churches of any denomination, particularly Baptists, have a deacon’s cane.  In the Church of England tradition there were historically two wands—the Rector’s warden’s wand, and the People’s warden’s wand. The former has a mitre as the symbol, and the latter usually a simple unadorned Latin cross or crown. The two examples below are the two wands that appear in the centre aisle of St. Clement’s Anglican Church in Toronto. The role of the early warden was to keep order in the church and in the churchyard by the use of his pole with the specified finial atop. It was used during the service to wake people who had dozed off to netherland during interminably long sermons. An additional prodder with a feather atop was used to wake any lady who had obviously momentarily entered the afterlife. In order these wands are [featured below]:

Rector’s Warden’s wand

People’s Warden’s wand

Ladies’ wand


In Kingston Baptist Church, the Deacon’s cane, the equivalent of the warden’s wand, was purely ceremonial and rarely seen.  Indeed, it was more an archival relic than an integral part of worship. This particular cane is documented in Family Tree 1818—1963:  Captain Charles Holmes 1818–1909 by Esther Holmes, Saskatoon, SK. She writes:

Charles Holmes, as Deacon of this Baptist Church at Kingston, possessed the “Deacon’s Cane” (an honour held by senior Deacons) for quite a number of years.  After his death [1909], it passed out of the family, to Deacons Ward, then Fraser, then to Charles Holmes’ sons William till his death, then to James, who possessed it till moving away to Freetown. The Holmes family can be justly proud of the fact that the father and his two sons, as Senior Deacons, all possessed the “Deacon’s Cane”.

The remainder of the story comes from pieces of information I gathered after laborious hours of searching and questioning people who might have known the story, and attempting to find people who once lived in the area and might have been cognizant of details others had forgotten, and because of my age at the time, I had never known.

Kingston Baptist Church – Photo credit: Donald E. Holmes

The first deacon of the Church, Captain Charles Holmes, my great-great-grandfather, was in possession of a cane which he took to the Island from England when he was in command of the first regiment to occupy Wellington Barracks in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He carried this cane with him most of the time, and Mrs. Susan Newson recalled seeing Grandfather Holmes (as he was known to her and many other people), walking up the hill with the cane. At the time of his death, this cane was passed out of the Holmes family as stated above by Esther Holmes. When James went to live in Freetown, he gave the cane to Stephen Ackland in whose house I found the cane. Strangely, none of Stephen’s four daughters recalled their father possessing such a cane. There was great mystery surrounding the whereabouts of the cane and many of the older people had actually heard of it at one time or another, but none could describe it accurately in detail nor tell me where it was.

One evening I went on a search and after many attempts stumbled into the correct place:  the house of one of the daughters of Mr. Ackland. Elynor, Mrs. Grant Willis, told me there was a cane lying in one of the old trunks belonging to her father which had never been opened since his death in 1973. She showed me the cane, and from the scattered clues I already had about it, I figured this had to be the one, that cane that had been considered lost for so many years. In reality, the cane was never lost, but its tradition had died out with James Holmes’ move from Hampshire to Freetown, PEI, in the early 1920s. James had the distinction of being a deacon in the North River-Kingston and Freetown-Bedeque Baptist Churches for 65 years.

James Holmes had given the cane to Stephen Ackland, but Mr. Ackland chose not to carry the cane to church with him on all occasions as the former deacons had done to symbolize both their authority and friendship. The cane had become purely ornamental; it still is. It is made of cherry wood, likely the trunk of a very young cherry tree because of the evenness of the entire stick, and the top of the cane is carved in teak. The finial, carved by hand of course, has a dog’s head with two amber eyes, wooden ears, and a brass collar around its neck. The dog’s head signified that man’s best friend was his dog; the brass collar signified the eternal friendship of the ring. As strange as the story about this cane is, and the fact that none of the Ackland girls (Grace Murray, Hilda Murray, Gertrude Willis, nor Elynor Willis), knew anything about it, it is even more odd that Stephen’s wife, Ellen, did not mention it to any of her children. She was a very active church member and knew about this cane. Most peculiarly of all is the fact that she never had the cane passed on to the next senior deacon in line for it.

Senior Deacon Stephen Ackland (centre) with cane – 1958

In the photo (above) the Senior Deacon, Stephen Ackland (85 years old), holds the cane as he stands in Long Creek Baptist Church beside the Baptist minister, Rev. Owen D. Cochran and Dr. Rowena Cochran, who is holding flowers, on June 29, 1958, at their retirement from the five-point North River pastoral charge.

Deacon Burgess Newson, who was ninety-four at the time I interviewed him told me the following anecdote: “Steve [Ackland] and I were nominated for Deaconship at the same time, and he won by two votes. He got the cane, and I guess likely I’m next in line”.

Burgess Newson was elected deacon at a later date and in 1971, when this account was written, he was indeed the senior of the three deacons.

Senior Deacon Burgess Newson with cane 1971

At the 110th Anniversary service of Kingston Baptist Church, on September 5, 1971, the cane was ceremoniously presented by the Rev. Arthur Willis to Deacon Burgess Newson (pictured here). Deacon Newson offered prayer before the completely filled sanctuary.

The cane, handed from one generation to the succeeding one of senior deacons is emblematic of the honour of being senior deacon. Seniority is determined by date of appointment to the position of deacon, and secondly, according to age, the older appointee taking the honour if two or more were appointed at the same time. Parker Newson and Milton Ward being the other two in line for the cane respectively, but neither one ever had possession of it.

It has been 45 years since that interview.  I have no idea where the cane may be today.  Do you know where it is?


Editor’s Notes:

  • An earlier story written by Donald E. Holmes, Indignant Silence – A Place for Public Worship, was published on this site here.
  • If anyone knows where the cane is now, they can email me, vivian@eastlink.ca and I will pass your message on to Donald Holmes.

Read Full Post »

Millar’s Life Review was provided to us by Joanne (MacFadyen) Turner which was written by Norma Thomson (Millar’s niece, Norman’s daughter) in 1986 for a course she had taken on the Dynamics of Communication with the Elderly and their Families. Millar MacFadyen taught at Clyde River, Cornwall, Kingston and East Wiltshire Schools during his career. Millar would have been 87 at the time of this interview.

Millar, Eric & Norman MacFadyen

Millar, Eric & Norman MacFadyen

Millar was born at Kingston on June 13, 1898. He was the second oldest of a family of seven children. He traces his ancestry to the Argyles (Argyll) of Scotland. Millar’s mother descended from the Campbell’s of Mull and family history suggests he was a descendant of the 5th Duke of Argyle (or Argyll).

Millar and his oldest brother started to school the same year. He was only five years old and his brother was six. He told me back in those days, you could do that. He went to a one-room schoolhouse with approximately 40 pupils all taught by the same teacher from grades 1 to 10. The older pupils helped the teacher out with the younger pupils. He attended school for 14 years.

Norman MacFadyen, Millar's older brother

Norman MacFadyen, Millar’s older brother

By then, the First World War had broken out and his older brother had gone overseas. Millar stayed at home for two years and helped his father on the farm. During this time, he decided he wanted to become a teacher, so he wrote and passed the matriculation examination into Prince of Wales College where he obtained a teacher’s license.

From 1918-1922, he taught school at Cornwall. While there, he met and married Marion Lewis and they were married on December 20th, 1922.


Millar’s parents: Sarah Jane (Campbell) & John Archibald

He remembers the Christmas of 1918 as a very sad time for the family, as on December 17th, his mother passed away suddenly. She was only 48 years old. The youngest of her children were twin girls, only eight years old. The first world war was just over and they were waiting for the return of the oldest boy from the war. He wasn’t able to get home until July 1920. In 1921, Eric, a brother two years younger than Millar died of T.B. He was just 21.

After his marriage, Millar moved in with his father on the home farm in Kingston. He taught school from 1922-24. He had 51 pupils in grades 1-10. In 1924, he taught at East Wiltshire for two years and then taught at Clyde River until 1932 when he returned to Kingston School and taught until 1935. He farmed and taught school for 16 years. He would get up at 3:00 a.m. and cultivate four acres before he went to school and four more acres in the evening during the busy season.

Millar & Marion (Lewis) MacFadyen

Millar & Marion (Lewis) MacFadyen

In 1941, he obtained the position of principal at Parkdale School and was there for there for 14 years. He taught grades 7 to 10. In 1955, he received a position with the Department of Education as Director of Correspondence Study and Truant Officer of Prince Edward Island. He retired in 1972 at the age of 74 years after working 17 years at the Department of Education.

When he first started teaching, his salary was $305 a year, and, in the final year at the Department of Education, $19,000 a year. When he retired, he received a pension of $3400.

Concerts were the highlight of the school year. At these concerts, they would raise money for needed school equipment. One year, they purchased a teacher’s desk and chair. Another year, it was a bookcase, and, another year, they purchased a school organ for $75. During the depression years, there was not enough money to buy paint for the school, so they held a concert to raise money to buy paint.

In those early years, grades were not mentioned, as a child started with the first primer, second primer, book I, book II, book III, and book IV. Another highlight was the Red Cross organization. He wrote a script for radio and had several people take part. This program was well received by the radio fans, In Parkdale, he organized a program where four pupils would answer questions by one of the other pupils. They had a program every Friday. Questions were asked regarding the home, marriage, boyfriends, religion, etc. The first program lasted five minutes. The final one in June was timed and it had to be discontinued after one and a half hours.

Millar said, “The students enjoyed the program and learned a great deal about Canada, people and how to conduct themselves. It was a great asset towards discipline, and it taught each one how to express themselves without fear, because they became conversant with many topics. A great need is to show that we care for other people. It also showed children that we were interested in their welfare. This is teaching democracy and that we must have as leaders people of high moral character and integrity. We must give our children the right kind of training.”

Millar emphasized that in the old days, teachers taught and did not emphasize their salary. He said, “Today, we need good leadership and the guidance. Our forefathers have left us a good heritage. We must make changes as time passes on but let us preserve the best things of the past and make changes for improvement. Remember, without a good past, we cannot have a great future. Let us remember that the little schoolhouse has produced great leaders in the past.”

Millar attended the Presbyterian Church all his life. He became an elder in 1950 of Zion Presbyterian Church in Charlottetown. He was Clerk of Session for ten years and taught bible class for 15 years. When a charge did not have a minister, he took his turn in the pulpit. He was secretary of the Men’s Association for nine years and of Presbytery for three years.

He retired in 1972 at 74 years of age, and since that time, he has written three books of poetry and several single poems. He was a member of the Gideon Society for several years and during those years preached several sermons. He was a delegate from the Prince Edward Island Teachers’ Federation to the Canadian Teachers’ Federation twice, once in Winnipeg and once in Toronto. Millar’s first train ride was in 1941 when he travelled from Charlottetown to Winnipeg to attend the meeting.

He remembers his first car ride and that was in 1916. A friend of his was driving around and picked him up to take him for a ride. He was much older when he had his first plane trip, when he travelled from Charlottetown to Toronto for a funeral. He said, “It was necessary for me to get to my destination in a hurry, so it was my only choice to go on the plane.”

I asked Millar what his favourite word was. He said “Sui Generis” which means unique, unequalled or unparalleled.

I asked Millar if he had his life to live over again, what would he do differently. He answered, “Nothing different, I have thoroughly enjoyed my life.”

Editor and family notes:

  • Millar lived 99 years, 1 month. He died July 14th, 1997.
  • Clipping about Clyde River School examinations include a thank you letter from students, click here.
  • Millar was principal of Parkdale School during his career. When some of his former pupils had a reunion at the new Parkdale School on Confederation Street, they planted a tree and placed a plaque in the front yard for Millar. It was a very special time for him. He was very proud and overwhelmed.
  • There is a book of Millar MacFadyen’s poetry in the museum collection at the Riverview Community Centre.
  • Millar was also a descendant of Thomas and Jane Beer. Their first daughter Mary Anne (Beer) married Archibald MacFadyen. Their son John Archibald married Sarah Jane (Campbell), and their son was Archibald Millar. Refer to lineage on http://www.janedyment.ca, click here.
  • Both Joanne (MacFadyen) Turner and Jane Dyment who are members of our History Committee are descendants of Mary Anne (Beer) and Archibald MacFadyen. Joanne (MacFadyen) Turner is a descendant of Millar’s older brother Norman, making Millar her great-uncle.
  • Millar was Roger Younker’s grandfather. Roger was the News Anchor for CBC Charlottetown’s Compass program for many years.
Millar's childhood homestead, Bannockburn Road

Millar’s childhood homestead, Bannockburn Road

  • Millar’s home place was on property now owned by the Dixon family on the Bannockburn Road, just a 1/4 mile past the Kingston/Clyde River border on the right-hand side. The house is no longer there.
  • Millar’s mother’s obituary stated she “was taken suddenly ill with heart trouble.” Her children were Norman, Millar, Donald (Eric) (died of T.B. at 21 years old), Margaret (Florence), Jeannette and Alexandrena. Another of her daughters predeceased her, Rebecca Louise at 7 months, 13 days. She was the daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Donald E. Campbell of Darlington. She is buried in the Clyde River Presbyterian Cemetery. More details on obituary and genealogy at www.janedyment.ca, click here.
  • When Millar’s grandparents (Campbell’s) moved to Charlottetown, they lived in a house at the corner of Kirkwood and University Avenue which is now the location of Shopper’s Drug Mart. The home was referred to as Argyle Cottage.

Read Full Post »

Here is a story submitted to us from Donald E. Holmes with photography by Florence Wall. With such strong historical ties between our two communities, we are delighted to feature our first story on Kingston. We do hope Donald has some other gems like this one to contribute in the future. 

Howard Burying Ground,

Howard Burying Ground, “The Christian Cemetery”, Kingston, PEI

“That my son Roderick bury my remains in The Christian Cemetery
on the estate of the late Charles Howard, and it is my

wish that I be buried as near to the late
Charles Howard as possible.”

Such is the statement from the will of Charles Colwill, but why would one be so prescriptive? While many small pioneer cemeteries frequently succumb to neglect because rural churches close, face road widening, original family members relocate, or the community changes even in name, this is the case of one small now neglected cemetery in Prince Edward Island.

Residents of Kingston, formerly South Wiltshire, organized themselves in 1852 to collect money to build a church on the South Wiltshire Road in Lot 31. The church was to replace the local schoolhouse as the meeting place for worship.  Similar to a rural barn raising, the men of the community erected a building on a foundation of hand-hewn limestone. While the structure was no edifice, it was given a simple, apt name:  A Place for Public Worship.

The entire community contributed and everyone was welcome to worship there. As a place for public worship, it was used cooperatively by Church of Englanders, Presbyterians, and Baptists, with a minority of other denominations. What was unique or nearly so was that all denominations attended the services of the other groups thereby showing respect for those who expressed their religious beliefs in ways different from their own.

My paternal grandfather, Everett Holmes, told me that within five years of the church being built, it had become known as The English Church. However, all groups still continued to worship there. By 1875, the building had become known as the Methodist Church. That name lasted for fifty years.

With the approaching 1925 church union in Canada, uneasiness and disagreement existed not only between the Baptists and Methodists, but also among the Methodists themselves. Between harmony and cooperation often exist the twin devils of dissention and resentment. The Wesleyan minority disapproved that the original privilege of worshipping in the Place for Public Worship according to one’s tradition was surely being removed from the Baptists who insisted on adult baptism. Here, then, is the story of a small group of Baptists with some extraordinary events:  the loss of a worship location, and legacy of passion gone awry and the creation of a cemetery.

In 1925, when the United Church of Canada was formed, not everyone agreed with or accepted this union. Many traditional Church of Englanders travelled eight miles to South Milton to attend the English Church. In a number of incidents, there was an exchange or transfer of membership. No congregation, therefore, suffered drastic losses. My maternal great-grandparents, Reuben Barrett and Edith Kitson, were Church of England people who moved to Kingston from the South Milton congregation to join with the Methodist Church. The Barretts lived next door to the Kingston church and are buried in the churchyard to the west of the building. A flat stone marks their graves. My paternal great-grandparents, Captain Charles and Elizabeth Holmes, as did the Barretts, left the English congregation in South Milton principally because Elizabeth was confined to a wheelchair, which made the eight-mile journey to South Milton difficult. She was an avid Bible reader and her influence can be demonstrated in this anecdote related to me by her grandson, Gordon Holmes, Q.C., who told me this story at his Park Terrace home in Charlottetown on August 29, 1971.

Gordon Holmes’ English grandparents

In her early years, Grandmother was crippled, so she began reading the Bible a great deal and talked to Grandfather about the truth contained therein, and about baptism in particular. Being true to the Anglican tradition, Grandparents were baptized by the method known as sprinkling. But when Grandmother read and pondered over “And He went down into the water and coming up straightway,” this caused her great concern. Grandfather questioned their minister–the Church of England minister at South Milton–whose opinion was one of indifference. “It doesn’t really matter all that much.”  To Grandfather, it did matter:  he was baptized in the mill pond at Kingston Corner–coming up straightway from the waters.  His affiliation with the Church of England at South Milton ceased, and Grandfather became the first deacon of Kingston Baptist Church.


A Place for Public Worship, later Kingston United Church. The cemetery is in background to the West of the church.

The Presbyterians were divided. The “soft-shell” Presbyterians stayed in Kingston and joined the Wesleyans. Some of the Wesleyans changed to Methodist. Both continued to worship as part of the congregation of the United Church of Canada. The Presbyterians who were opposed to the union travelled three miles to the Clyde River. Curiously, none of my interviewees once mentioned a derogatory word about the Presbyterians who, like the Church of Englanders, chose to “leave” the community of Kingston to worship elsewhere. Had the Presbyterians not demonstrated the same faithfulness as did the Church of Englanders, or was this a case of Islanders guarding their families carefully?  If it were the latter, what part of the family were they guarding? What is the substance of that tenet?

Charles Howard Jr. headstone in Howard Burying Ground, Kingston, PEI

Charles Howard Jr. headstone in Howard Burying Ground, Kingston, PEI

Now let’s walk the road the Baptists trod. Charles Howard, a staunch elderly Baptist who was greatly perplexed by the conflict in this Place for Public Worship in Kingston, chose to avoid taking sides with either the Methodists or the Baptists.

Charles donated, on the occasion of the death of his twenty-seven year-old son, Charles G. Howard, a plot of land on his own farm and buried his son Charles there on January 5, 1878.

Charles Howard headstone, Howard Burying Ground. The Christian Cemetery, Kingston, PEI

Charles Howard headstone, Howard Burying Ground. The Christian Cemetery, Kingston, PEI

Five months later, June 18, 1878, Charles Sr. was buried in this same cemetery which became locally known as “The Howard Burying Ground” although it was not restricted for exclusive use by the Howard family. Close friends were also buried there too. Here is a story related to me:

On the surface, Charles Howard was a staunch old [62 years old when he died] Baptist and as upright as could be produced.  However, behind the façade of his righteousness was a twinkle in his eye and an edge to his wit that could be matched by few. Howard recorded the name of the cemetery on his farm as “The Christian Cemetery”. The implication of his deed is that the graveyard to the west of the Church was for people who were other than Christian. To what extent did Charles Sr. know what he was doing! Whose side was he avoiding?

This name raises intriguing implications for the graveyard surrounding the Church building itself! The “Christian” cemetery was restored in 1972 as a joint project of the PEI Department of Health and the Heritage Foundation, a roadside marker, long gone, bore the following inscription:

Established Approximately 1878
Abandoned 1902
Restored 1972

How we wish that silenced tongues in the graveyard could be heard! In the context of the time the situation was understandable. It may be an Island peculiarity, or is it as Rev. Arthur Willis observed, “Islanders guarding their families”?

Buried beside him . . . never!

Nonetheless, the Howard story’s intrigue comes from a legal document, the last will and testament of Charles Colwill, a man of strong Methodist conviction and individuality. Colwill (1819-1908) was a friend of Charles Howard, and he agreed with Howard that the worshipping privileges at the Place for Public Worship should not be removed from the Baptists. Upon this principle alone, Colwill was told he could be buried in “The Christian Cemetery”. The flip side of the story is intriguing. Colwill did not want to be buried in the churchyard cemetery to the west of the church building. His last will and testament articulates his wishes in plain English so that no error could occur.  It reads:

That my son Roderick Nicholas pay all my just debts, Doctor’s fees and funeral expenses and that he bury my remains in The Christian Cemetery situated in or on the southwest corner of the estate of the late Charles Howard, and it is my wish that I be buried as near to the late Charles Howard as possible.  

Charles Colwill’s will was made in haste as the result of a dispute between him and one of his Methodist brothers, Jonathan Smith, whose differences over church doctrine and church government set these men at odds with each other. Their differences, it seems, were left unresolved.

Charles Colwill, knowing that Jonathan Smith was a faithful Methodist, decided he would not be buried in the Kingston cemetery with Smith. He made his will accordingly in an effort to outsmart Smith–he chose The Christian Cemetery of his Baptist friend, Charles Howard. In the end, however, like the twists and unveilings in a morals and manners scandal, the tables turned and Colwill was outwitted by Smith who was buried in the Cornwall United Church Cemetery beside his wife, Sarah Howard, who had predeceased him on August 24, 1887.

Sarah Howard's tombstone, West River United Church, formerly Cornwall United Church, Cornwall, PEI

Sarah Howard’s tombstone, West River United Church, formerly Cornwall United Church, Cornwall, PEI

Colwill was shortsighted not to realize that Mrs. Smith was already buried in Cornwall before he made his will, and there was no reason to expect that Jonathan Smith would be buried anywhere but in the plot beside his wife. Interment in the Kingston churchyard cemetery was out of the question. Whatever transpired between Colwill and Smith still lies indignant and silent, but not yet forgotten.

I’m told that Charles Colwill did get even closer to the Late Charles Howard in death than he expected and requested in his will. The gravediggers (graves were dug by hand at that time), unknowingly dug into the side of Charles Howard’s grave when they were hand digging Colwill’s grave. Undoubtedly, Colwill would have smiled or even thanked God for granting him his dying wish!

This Place for Public Worship tempest climaxed in 1878, especially for the Baptists, and, even if partially anecdotal, it must be said that they brought the trouble upon themselves. Susan Newson, a longstanding Baptist just shy of her one-hundredth birthday told me this story in her own delightful manner with a chuckle in her voice, she expressed the situation in these words:

Dan MacKinley lost his head over religion!  He was always preaching baptism, and one Sunday as the congregation was dismissed, he started again:  “People are not on the right track;  infants are being sprinkled where men should be baptized!”  At this utterance, two men of the congregation picked up Dan and carried him out of the church. On his way out, he was heard shouting:  “I’m more honoured than the Saviour–he rode on one ass and I’m on two.”

With this event, the Baptists– all of them– were without further worshipping privileges in the Place for Public Worship. Alas though, they had their cemetery!

Read Full Post »