History of Saint Paul’s –  Herring Cove, NS


The community of Herring Cove was founded in the 18th century by Irish settlers and sits at the approaches of Halifax Harbour; one of the busiest waterways in North America.


Many priests have served our community since 1794 from the parish in Prospect.  At this time the priest was responsible for all the Catholics from along the coastline of Nova Scotia from Shelburne to Sherbrooke.  At the time of Fr. Loughnan (1823-1827) the pastor of Prospect was saying Mass in thirty-nine different villages, the most frequently visited being Ketch Harbour and Herring Cove.  A separate baptismal register was established for Herring Cove in 1837 by Fr. James Drummond (1837-1838), making our parish one of the oldest in the Archdiocese.  Fr. James Kennedy, pastor in Prospect from 1839-1845 built St. Patrick’s chapel in 1839 at the site of the old cemetery.  Construction of a new church on the current site began in 1846 at the same time as Stella Maris in Ferguson’s Cove and was completed in the early 1850’s.


Records indicate that the split from the Prospect parish may have happened under Fr. John Carmody in 1855.  For the next 82 years priests from Herring Cove would serve the Catholic population of the communities of Purcell’s Cove, Ferguson’s Cove and Ketch Harbour.  In 1937 St. Peter’s in Ketch Harbour was separated from St. Paul’s. 


The parish glebe, completed in 1896, was built by the people of Herring Cove and; according to the records of the Sisters of Charity, was built as a convent.  The sisters were unable to come to Herring Cove at that time and the house became the pastor’s residence (which was originally half way up what is now Hebridean Drive.)


The present church was built in the early 1950’s as the old church was too small and in need of repair.  The parish hall was built in 1929 and has been used by the parishioners for a variety of activities.


In 1937 the Sisters of Charity did eventually move to the parish and take up residence in a newly constructed convent and began teaching in the Herring Cove Public School.  Several years later an extension was added to the existing convent and the sisters taught in the school until 1977.  From 1975 the convent was used as a novitiate for new sisters until their departure from Herring Cove in 1996.  The convent was torn down in the fall of 1998.


As of 2012 the original parish glebe is once again occupied as a convent. St. Clare Convent is a community of sisters of   the Franciscans of Halifax.


History of Saint Peter’s – Ketch Harbour NS

In the beginning, the Catholics of Ketch Harbour were served by priests from what was then St. Peter’s Church in Halifax, which was built in 1784.  St. Mary’s Basilica replaced the original St. Peter’s Church in 1820.


When the parish of Prospect was established in 1794 Ketch Harbour was included within its bounds.  A church was built in Prospect that same year and some years later, in 1806, the first Church in Ketch Harbour was erected.  Early records indicate that the Catholic community at the time numbered eleven families and one hundred and thirty communicants.


The oldest of the three cemeteries in Ketch Harbour (the one just on the brow of the hill overlooking the harbour) was the site of that original church and a crucifix now marks the location where it once stood.


When the new church was completed in 1892, the old church was razed and all that remains of it today is the dome over the tabernacle in St. Peter’s.


St. Peter’s continued as a mission church of St. Paul’s in Herring Cove until 1937 when it was made a separate parish, which included St. Anne’s Church in Portuguese Cove. The present rectory took two years to build and was completed in January of 1939.


Perhaps two of the more distinctive features of St. Peter’s Church are the stained glass windows that decorate the interior and the Spruce tree hedges that surround the exterior.  The stained glass windows that decorate the nave were imported from Italy.  The two that decorate the sanctuary were installed under the direction of Msgr. Gerald Murphy who salvaged them from Holy Heart Seminary prior to its demolition in the early nineteen seventies.


The last quarter of the century has been a turbulent time for society as well as for the church throughout North America.  St. Peter’s Parish could hardly hope to have rendered itself immune to that turbulence.  The parishioners of St. Peter’s, in keeping with the inspiration provided by their patron saint, have remained steadfast in their faith.  Today the parishioners of St. Peter’s continue to look upon their church as a calm harbour in a sea of turbulence.  They remain justifiably proud of the long tradition of faith that has survived here.