|The Community of Malpeque Bay History
What Does Malpeque Mean?
Malpeque is the French spelling of the Mi'kmaq word Makpaak, meaning large bay or big water. The Mi'kmaq tribe of the Algonquin Nation came to Malpeque in 2500 B.C. and established a settlement in Malpeque.
In 1534, the French explorers arrived and established farms and built their first church in 1753. After the fall of Louisburg, the British came and ordered the deportation of all the French. Due to the lateness of the season, Malpeque remained. The last Acadians, Isaac Poirier and family, moved from the area in 1931, thus ending the Acadian story in Malpeque.
In 1764, a survey was made of the Island and it was divided into lots, three county's, townships and county seats. Malpeque was given lot 18 and a township. The county seats were surrounded by land called Royality, so now Malpeque was called Princetown, in honor of the then crowned Prince George IV and the land called Princetown Royality. (Another name for Malpeque)
- Princetown United Church
The church serves date back to 1770, when a sailing vessel of Falmouth, Scotland dropped anchor in Malpeque and sought shelter from unfavorable winds. They were convened in a house where divine service was performed. Rev. James MacGregor held church services on several occasions at a location near Cabot Park.
The first church building was constructed and located at Ellison's Brook, better known as Big Spring or Grog's Island (because of a tavern near by). This building was of log construction, which would be in keeping of the day. According to records found this church was constructed in 1794.
In 1810, a lot of the congregation had moved inland. The people decided to move the church to a more central location. MacGillvary's Corner was chosen. (The next intersection towards Kensington, the location of a general store operated by W.H. Burns and later Elmer and Rose Casely.) While stopping for the night, the weather deteriorated and made traveling almost impossible. After much discussion, everyone agreed not to travel any farther and later decided to let the little church remain in the location where they stopped. (The present location of the church today), but facing west, not south.
While the little church was being established, plans were afoot to build a new and larger church. In 1810, a lot of land was granted to Princetown Royality for the purpose of building a meeting house for the inhabitants of Princetown Royality to build a meeting house on the Presbyterian Foundation. In September, 1813, the building was ready to use.
The second church was on the same site as the church building today, except the entrance was facing west, not south. The exterior was similar to today's church, the interior was quite different. The exterior had a spire, bell tower and weather vane. The bell in the tower was and still is of unknown origin.
Again in 1869, the congregation and the residents decided a larger church was a necessity for the residents. The official opening was October 21, 1870. The pastor was Rev. Robert Leard from New Glasgow, Prince Edward Island. Many clergy helped with the festivities.
A newspaper reported the new church was tastefully designed and neatly finished, 75 ft. long, 50 ft. wide, and would seat 800 people, with windows of gothic style. Many changes have taken place since then. It will not seat 800 people now.
A memorial room was created by closing off the gallery as a memorial for Mr. and Mrs. F.J. Lockerby in memory of their son Earl.
In the arched recess behind the pulpit, a manual pipe organ was installed and later electrified. This organ was purchased by the congression and dedicated in memory of Rev. Dr. and Mrs. William Keir to his coming to Malpeque. It was purchased from the Grace congregation of the Methodist Church, Charlottetown.
Due to the ravages of time and elements over the years, the spire was removed to the top of the bell tower because the base of the structure had deteriorated, and a flat roof was placed over the bell tower. By doing this, the result was to detract greatly from the beauty of the building.
In 1967, changes were made for more Sunday School rooms, and many other renovations were carried out. In 1983, a spire fund was established, and immediately a big project began and a new spire was assembled. When assembled it was hoisted into place by a giant crane.
As a fitting climax, the church was rededicated and hosted the presbytery of Prince Edward Island. Many photographs were taken, mounted and placed on the walls of the Princetown United Church and may still be seen today. The Princetown United Church has been having services on Sundays since 1925.
Aspects of the Heritage of Malpeque that are reserved for future generations are:
- Malpeque Historical Society
To care for, enhance and promote exhibits; to develop special projects with historical significance for the benefit of Islanders and visitors alike, that reflect the culture, diversity, values, and heritage of the area, with special emphasis on maintaining linkages to the primary resource sectors which have profoundly influenced the development of the community's character over the years.
Rev. John Keir
Rev. John Keir came to Prince Edward Island as a missionary under the auspices of the General Associate Synod, Scotland. He was a scholar, teacher, theologian and preacher. He was called by Presbytery to Malpeque to preach, and this began a most remarkable pastorate which lasted for fifty years.
He was ordained in 1810 and was the first protestant ordination on Prince Edward Island. The first presbytery on Prince Edward Island was organized with Dr. Keir as moderator in 1821. He organized the Princetown Literary and Scientific Society and Library, which were the first on the Island.
In 1843, he became the first Principal Professor of Theology in the Presbyterian Divinity Collage. Classes were held in his home until the present Pine Hill Divinity Hall in Halifax was built. He continued to be the Professor of Pine Hill from 1843 to 1858.
Malpeque has had the distinction of having continuous church services longer than any other congregation on the Island. Malpeque has been called the cradle of Presbyterianism on Prince Edward Island.
- The Keir Memorial Museum
Open July to Labour Day, 9 am to 5 pm; Sat. and Sun. 1 to 5 pm.
1 (902) 836-3054