(Originally published in the The Diocesan Magazine, January, 1932, pp. 15-6)
On Wednesday morning, November 4th, His Lordship the Bishop, accompanied by the Revs. R.F. Mercer, J.T. Hiscock, H. Gosse, W. Bugden, C.D.T. Sparshott, and the Chaplain, proceeded to Port Union for the consecration of the new Church there.
A half-holiday had been proclaimed for the occasion, and the town was en fete to welcome the Bishop and his party. The Church, the Trading Co.'s premises, the Congress Hall, and in fact practically every house were decorated with flags. At the main entrance to the Church a fine arch had been erected, bearing the motto, "Welcome." The interior of the Church was decorated with beautiful flowers: evidently the women as well as the men had done all possible to make their welcome a very real one.
Every available seat in the Church was occupied and many chairs were brought in to accommodate those who could not find a place in the regular Church seats. There were many visitors from Catalina and Bonavista. We were pleased to see that Canon Bayly was also able to be present, and sat in the Sanctuary. At 11 o'clock the Bishop, preceded by the clergy and the surpliced choir, proceeded to the west door, where they were met by Sir William Coaker, who, on behalf of the Church Wardens and Congregation, read the Petition to Consecrate. The Consecration Service was then begun. The Bishop and Clergy moving from Altar to Altar again, while over the Font, Lectern, Pulpit, Altar, Eucharistic Vessels, and the Church itself, His Lordship pronounced the holy words of Consecration. At the conclusion of the Consecration the Holy Communion was administered, the Bishop being the Celebrant. At the proper interval in this Service the Bishop delivered an address which all those privileged to hear will long remember. Taking as his text - "This is none other than the House of God, and this is the Gate of Heaven" - he paid public tribute to Sir W.F. Coaker for beginning, early in the history of Port Union, the construction of a house for the worship of God, and then continued to show what the Church should mean to its people in any community.
The Church of the Holy Martyrs was begun as the result of a meeting held by eleven Churchmen, and presided over by Sir W.F. Coaker, in August, 1918. At that meeting some $2,000.00 were subscribed -
Sir W.F. Coaker............$1,000.00
Charles Bryant............. 200.00
Jesse Brown................ 50.00
John Gardner (deceased).... 100.00
Stephen Hancock (deceased). 50.00
John Purchase (deceased)... 35.00
Joseph Mercer.............. 50.00
Edmund Butler.............. 50.00
Leonard Brett.............. 50.00
Peter Carter (deceased).... 100.00
A start was made with the building the next summer. It was opened first for Divine Worship on Sunday, December 19th, 1920, the late Rev. Canon Lockyer and the late Rev. G.S. Chamberlain officiating. It is named the Church of the Holy Martyrs in honour of those soldiers who fell on the field of battle during the war as Coaker recruits, and each stained glass window in the building bears the name of a fallen hero and the date when he fell in battle, thus commemorating his sacrifice.
Names of those to whose memory windows in Church of Holy Martyrs at Port Union are dedicated:-
Corp. W.J. Stratton, died of wounds, March 3rd, 1918, aged 22 years.
Pte. Albert E. Quinton, died at Jensen Camp, June 27th, 1917, aged 18 years.
Pte. Adolphus Locke, died at Pilley's Island, November 3rd, 1918, aged 21 years.
Pte. Dol. J. Stuckless, died of wounds, November 19th, 1918, aged 19 years.
Pte. Fred. J. White, killed in action, December 3rd, 1917, aged 24 years.
Pte. E. Froude, died of wounds, October 14th, 1919, aged 25 years.
Pte. Pierce Parsons, died of wounds, August 16th, 1918, aged 22 years.
Pte. Neville Samson, killed in action, December 3rd, 1917, aged 19 years.
Pte. H.H. Pittman, killed in action, December 3rd, 1917, aged 21 years.
Corp. William Coaker Christian, died of wounds, in France, October 26th, 1917, aged 20 years.
The Reredos and Altar were presented by Sir W.F. Coaker in memory of his parents.
The pulpit was presented by the late H. Crowe, of Toronto.
The bell, by Mrs. Collishaw, of Halifax, in memory of her mother, Mrs. Puddington.
All the furniture of the Church is of beautiful polished oak, and shows that those responsible realized that the best was not too good for the House of God.
After the Service, His Lordship the Bishop, Revs. Hiscock, Mercer, and Sparshott, lunched with Sir William at the Bungalow, and Revs. Gosse, Bugden, and the Chaplain, were the guests of Mr. and Mrs. H.A. Dawe.
In the afternoon Sir William very graciously placed his car at the Bishop's disposal, and the Episcopal party returned to Catalina, en route to St. John's and their respective parishes.
We noticed that night that Port Union was specially illuminated in honour of the great red letter day in its history...
J.T. Hiscock, B.A. (Originally published in the Diocesan Magazine (November 1947, pp. 359-65)
A word or two about the beginning and the work of the Church at Port Union, and its progress, might well fit in here. I cannot do better than quote from the Diocesan Magazine of Jan. 1932. "The Church of the Holy Martyrs (that is Port Union Church) was begun as a result of a meeting held by eleven Churchmen, and presided over by Sir W.F. Coaker in August 1918. At that meeting some $2000 was subscribed (each one present giving a handsome donation). A start was made with the building the next summer. It was opened first for Divine Service on Sunday Dec. 19th, 1920, the late Rev. Canon Lockyer and the late Rev. G.S. Chamberlain officiating. It is named the Church of the Holy Martyrs in honour of the Soldiers who fell in the field of battle during the War (that is 1914-18), as Coaker recruits, and each Stained Glass Window in the building bears the name of a fallen hero, and the date when he fell in battle, thus commemorating his 'Sacrifice'.
The Reredos and Altar were presented by Sir W.F. Coaker in memory of his parents.
The pulpit was presented by the late H. Crowe of Toronto. All the furniture of the Church is of beautifully polished oak, and shows that those responsible, realized that the best was not too good for the House of God. It was consecrated by Bishop White, on Wednesday, Nov. 4th, 1931, being of course entirely free from debt. There were present beside the Bishop, his Chaplain Rev. H. Torraville, Rev. R.F. Mercer the Incumbent, Rev. J.T. Hiscock, former Incumbent, Rev. C.D.T. Sparsholt, and last but by no means least, the Rev. Canon Bayley, despite his illness.
Sir W.F. Coaker read the petition for Consecration. The Bishop preached from the text 'There is none other than the House of God, and this is the gate of Heaven'."
Everyone here, will know I am talking about the Church building that was, and is not, for the fire of March 1, 1945, which destroyed the whole Fishermen's Union Stores and premises, as well as some houses, burnt to the ground this Church, with the whole of its furniture, windows and even the Bell.
Hardly had the fire ceased its destructive work when the people of Port Union began to plan another Church to take the place of the destroyed one. Today there is rising on the same foundation another Church, well forward in its construction, as well as a considerable fund towards the payment of the work and material. It is expected that before many months are past Services will be offered again in the new Church on the old site.
From all approaches to Port Union the new church is the first object to meet the eye. Built on a rock, indeed, and on a commanding eminence, and of a simplicity in architecture that is its charm, the Church of the Holy Martyrs is a fitting memorial to those who fell in the Great War and is a standing example of Mr. Coaker's energy in erecting a memorial without delay.
The stained glass windows which are to be dedicated to the memory of the brave "Coaker Recruits" who fell, will, when put in, add greatly to the appearance of the Church. The interior shows exquisite taste in the arrangements, the altar and reredos erected by Hon. W.F. Coaker to the memory of his father and mother being of dark oak and of chaste design. The pews are also of the same wood with a very convenient arrangmeent fixed to each pew for kneeling.
Port Union has reason to be proud of its Church, one of the prettiest
in the Colony.