St. Paul’s Church has an unusual and interesting history. In the days before the church was built, the community was known as Kennebecasis, and in the waiting room of the railway station, Sunday afternoon services were conducted by a Presbyterian minister, the Rev. William Donald from Saint John.
Three prominent members of this mission group, Hon. John Robertson, John Rhodes, and Robert Thomson were instrumental in arranging for a proper place of worship, and in 1860, between January and August, St Paul’s was built in much of its present form, as a Presbyterian church. The land on which it stands was given by the Hon. John Robertson.
It is interesting to note that during this same month of August, the young Prince of Wales, (later King Edward VII) visited the village en route by riverboat to Fredericton, and the story has it that the Prince remarked that the place reminded him of Rothesay, Scotland. Actually, “Duke of Rothesay” was one of his senior titles, and he was asked if the name of the village might be changed from Kennebecasis to Rothesay in his honour. The Prince graciously consented to this request.
At this time, the village was in the Church of England Parish of Hampton, under the Rev. W. W. Walker. Parson Walker, as he was known, ministered as best he could to a vast area and a few people. Through the courtesy of the Presbytery, when he came to Rothesay, he held Sunday services in St. Paul’s either morning or afternoon, alternately with the Presbyterians. This system of sharing the church continued for some time.
In 1870, the Parish of Rothesay was separated from Hampton. It covered the entire area from Nauwigewauk to Brookville, and embraced St. Luke’s Church at Gondola Point, the oldest church in the parish, having been built in 1833. The first baptism was performed about 1870 by the Rev. S.B. Kellogg. The parents were Robert and Sarah Henderson, but the baby’s name was not recorded. The first marriage was performed about 1873 by the Rev. Francis Partridge between Wellesley Parlee and Margaret Saunders.
As the population of Rothesay grew, the Church of England members of St. Paul’s became more numerous than the Presbyterians, and in 1876, the church was handed over to the Rector and wardens of the Parish of Rothesay in the Church of England Diocese of Fredericton. The building was consecrated on May 31st by Bishop John Medley. Some alterations were made at this time to make the church more suitable for the Church of England services.
From the very beginning of church worship in the area, and throughout the period of transition and afterwards, the Hon. John Robertson and his family were faithful supporters of the efforts of both denominations. The Presbyterians made a new start in 1887 in a new Church Hall in the same location as the present St. David’s United Church.
In the 1880s, the church hall for St. Paul’s was built beside the church. The hall has been renovated and enlarged four times since, but the front section has retained its original architecture, high vaulted ceiling and pleasing ecclesiastical exterior. Then, at the turn of the century, a major restoration of the church took place, including panelling to cover the previously plastered walls, and lowering and panelling of the ceiling. This called for the closure of the galleries, which previously existed on either side.
The first rectory was built on the street now known as Grove Avenue, on the site of the present McMackin house. This was also on original Robertson land. After it was destroyed by fire, the present rectory was built in 1904.
Rectors of the Parish of Rothesay
Rev. W.W. Walker, 1860 – 1870 (Ministering from Hampton)
Rev. S.B. Kellogg, 1870 – 1872
Rev. Francis Partridge, 1872 – 1882
Rev. W. Hancock, 1882 – 1890
Rev. George Exton Lloyd, 1890 – 1896
Rev. Canon Alan W. Daniel, 1896 – 1927
Rev. Canon W.R. Hibbard, 1928
Rev. J.H.A. Holmes, 1928 – 1932
Rev. Canon C.J. Markham, 1932 – 1964
Rev. L.D. Batchelor, 1940 – 1943 (Interim rector during the absence of Canon Markham on Active Service)
Rev B.H. Campion, 1964 – 1972
Rev. C.N.A. Blagrave, 1972 – 1983
Rev. D.R. Staples, 1984 – 1995
Ven. Richard McConnell, 1995 – 2006
Rev. Canon Albert Snelgrove, 2007 - 2017
Rev. Paul Rideout, 2017 - present