The unique name of Fort Massey Church
recalls the early
of the garrison town when there was a blockhouse on the site. The
fort was named after General Eyre Massey who was
commander-in-chief at Halifax from 1776-1780.
Fort Massey Church opened in 1871. The Scottish
architect, David Stirling, made skillful use of Gothic designs
with more than a dozen window shapes and sizes and numerous
versions of decorative window tracery. Inside there are
richly-carved ceiling braces supported by hammer-beams, ornamental
kings' heads and bands of trefoil arches punctuated by protruding,
small winged creatures which gaze down into the nave below. The
interior was refurbished in 1993, and work on the exterior of the
began in 2001. The church hall and gymnasium were added in 1898.
The three manual Casavant organ, installed in 1913, was played by
television's first lady of the organ, Diane Bish (Joy of Music) in
1997 to a full house!
Reports from Newspapers of the day:
From the Halifax Reporter
1871: "The interior ... has almost a cathedral appearance.
In form and style there
is nothing like it in Nova Scotia."
From the Canadian Illustrated News
1873: "...one of the most handsome specimens of Gothic
architecture to be met in the Dominion."
Fort Massey Church was originally a congregation of the
Presbyterian Church in Canada. Along with most other
Presbyterian congregations, the congregation of Fort Massey joined
the Methodists and Congregationalists in the union of The United
Church of Canada in 1925. Over the years many notable Haligonians
worshipped at Fort Massey including Lucy Maud Montgomery (author
of Anne of Green Gables) and Anna Leonowens (Governess to the King
of Siam's children) worshipped at Fort Massey while living in
Halifax. Today, the congregation consists of neighbouring
residents as well as people from throughout the Halifax Regional
Here is the link
to the scanned .pdf version of the booklet on the history of
Fort Massey Church "Century
published in 1971 by Rev. D. M. Sinclair. For the history
from 1971 to 2011 click on this link to the document "Fort Massey United Church: Entering
a Second Century of Witness" by Dr. Ruth MacKenzie.