PICTOU – Susan Fraser remembers a special day when she started a church service in Pictou United in one building and ended it in another.
It was in June 1964, when the new Pictou United Church officially opened its doors to accommodate a growing congregation and Fraser, who was nine years old at the time, says it was memorable event to finally walk through the doors of the new church building.
“It was kind of neat,” she said. “It was so different from our old one.”
Pictou United Church members, along with family, friends and others from the community, will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the new church building this weekend.
A potluck dinner will take place Saturday in the church hall at 5 p.m. with memorabilia and old photos on display. This will be followed by an hour-long concert at 7 p.m. featuring some of the talented musicians from the church. Both events are free of charge.
On Sunday, the 10:30 a.m. worship service will be structured around the anniversary celebrations followed by cake and coffee in the church hall afterwards. Former Pictou United Church minister Rev. Hugh Farquhar (1971-1981) will be the guest speaker during the service.
Fraser said the new structure was very modern compared to the older wooden church that had a hall and house attached to it.
“The old church was great for playing hide and seek in during Explorers,” she said.
Since it was during the baby boomers era, a number of young families were involved in the church in the 1960s and youth groups made up a large number of the activities.
“I remember our Grade 6 Sunday school class had 10 or 12 girls and there were just as many boys in the other class,” she said.
Fraser’s connection to the church has remained strong throughout the years with her own baptism and wedding taking place in the new church building while her daughter Marianne was also baptized there.
A fundraising campaign began in 1962 for the construction of the new Pictou United Church with members and adherents being asked to help reach a fundraising goal of $150,000.
According to a letter from Rev. N.R. Estsey, a new church building “capable of housing all activities under one roof” was desperately needed and architect’s drawings showed a modern building that would improve working conditions and worship services.
On June 28, 1964, Rev. Russell MacLeod, the minister at the time, dedicated the new church building and through the years more improvements were made.
A new Casavant organ was installed in 1974, stained glass memorial windows were added between 1974 and 1985, a new steel roof and elevator was installed, new carpeting, an enhanced sound system, office and computer equipment and many other innovations have been introduced.
Doris Young of Pictou said church in general has played a significant role in her life, but many of those memories come from Pictou United.
As an elder, choir member and volunteer with many youth groups, Young has had her hand in just about everything that went on in both the old and new church buildings.
She will be sharing some of her memories during the potluck dinner Saturday evening.
“I was a CGIT leader,” she said. “My leadership and the choir were two of my greatest loves. I still keep in touch with leaders that I had 50 years ago.”
She said the transition from the old to the new building was exciting because people watched it being built over time.
‘It was so modern and later on so many stain glass windows were donated and so was the communion table,” she said. “We had large Sunday schools too and all of the youth groups were function. There were a lot of changes over the years.”
Marriages in 1964 in Pictou United
Norman Frederick MacLeod & Karen Hamilton Baillie
Garnet Ivan Cameron & Carol Frances Hartling
David Marould Davis & Catherine Euphemia MacLean
William James Tower & Helen Elizabeth MacLean
John Roland MacDonald & Judith Ann Davey
Reginald Lawrence MacLeod & Sharon Jean MacDonald
Frederick Alexander Bowes & Donna Rose Teed
Albert Butt & Florence May Elizabeth Jarvis
Lionel Clair MacDonald & Barbara Blanche Moland
Baptisms in 1964
James Layton MacKinnon, Ivan Leslie Stright, Randall Howard Riles, Lynn Margaret Logan, Jeffery William Show, Maxine Carolyn Turple, Meredith Lynn Henderson Bryce Allan Whalen, Deborah Lynn Whalen, Kerry Heather MacLean, Drusilla Jolene Pattison, Kevin Leslie Powell, Duane Lloyd Stewart, Susan Dean Benson, George Vernon Shea and David Frederick Whalen