Local historian Charles Scobie has announced that a memorial to commemorate four landmark churches has finally been completed at the corner of the old Methodist cemetery in the heart of downtown Sackville.
The memorial consists of a 1,200 pound bell along with a plaque giving the history of the four Methodist churches that stood nearby for nearly two centuries beginning in 1818.
The cast-iron bell, which hung in the tower of the Sackville Methodist/United Church on Main Street for 117 years, was one of the things salvaged when the building was demolished in 2015 by its owners JN Lafford Realty Inc.
“The bell was really the one concrete thing that survives here in the community,” Scobie said today during a telephone interview.
“The sound of the bell would be familiar to the citizens of Sackville over many years, so it seemed that it was the appropriate thing to use.”
Scobie says the project began last year when John Lafford decided to donate the bell and Scobie himself was asked to chair an advisory committee to plan the memorial.
The Sackville Rotary Club contributed $700 for the plaque and its metal stand while the Laffords provided construction materials and hauled the big bell to the site on a front-end loader.
Sackville and Methodism
Scobie says the memorial serves as a reminder of the important role Methodism played in Sackville’s history after the evangelical religion was brought here in the 1770s by settlers from Yorkshire.
“They made major contributions to the local community and especially, many of the members of these churches were very strong supporters of Mount Allison University,” he says, noting that the university’s founder is buried only a few feet away from the memorial.
“Charles Frederick Allison would have attended, I think, the first of the four churches that are commemorated,” Scobie adds. “The one that stood just diagonally opposite where the memorial is now on the corner of Bridge Street and Main Street. But he would also go to the second church, the one that was built in 1838.”
Scobie says the advisory committee felt it was important to select the right site.
“We wanted to find a site that was easily visible and easily accessible and I think where we have put it on Main Street, just across the road from Cranewood, that fits the bill.”
To read the news release announcing completion of the memorial, click here.