Mission of Catalina


Rev. J.T. Hiscock, B.A.

(Originally published in the Diocesan Magazine (November 1947, pp. 359-65)

A Centenary - that is a hundred years - is something vary rare in the life of an individual. In a Parish or Mission, especially in the Western Hemisphere, not very many can be counted. Even in Christianity itself, we've only attained nineteen.

In the Mission of Catalina, of which St. Peter's is the Parish Church, we have attained our hundredth anniversary, and are now rejoicing thereat. It is right and proper that we should take a little glimpse backward over our past, as a separate mission in the Church of England of Newfoundland.

Our records do not give us anything like a full account of the Church's work in this Community. We know from the beginning of permanent settlement here, say well on for 200 years, that the Church's administrations were given chiefly by the Clergy of Bonavista. Catalina and the neighbouring settlements formed a part of the large mission of Bonavista, and as frequently as possible the Clergy of Bonavista visited and gave the Church's administrations and the people used to go to Bonavista to receive such services as the Church provided, when the Clergy would not come to them. But a little over a hundred years ago that is in 1843, a Clergyman was found who could reside here in the person of the Rev. William Netten, who was one of a number of schoolmasters whom Bishop Feild ordained to the Diaconate; and it was very nearly to the perpetual Diaconate, as Mr. Netten was ordained Priest not many years before his death.

Although we are labelling this year the Centenary Year, it is very difficult from the records to ascertain the exact date, when Catalina became a separate Mission from Bonavista.

A New Mission

There are the recorded dates and events leading to the Separation.

On Oct. 1st., 1841 there is a list of subscribers promising continued yearly support if the Bishop would send a school-master, clergyman.

Mr. Netten's first performance of the Baptism Service was Oct. 13th, 1843.

First marriage October 30th, 1844.

First Burial Dec. 16th, 1843.

So that places Mr. Netten living at Catalina as a Clergyman Oct. 30th, 1844, and very likely a Clergyman Oct. 13th, 1843. Evidently it took them to 1847 to properly constitute it as a separate Mission.

Separate Registers for:

Marriages begin Oct. 30th, 1833.

Baptisms begin Nov. 30th, 1834.

Burials begin Oct. 30th, 1829.

(One baptism took place before Oct. 30th, 1833, but the day and month are not specified).

First Confirmation Service July 12th, 1846; 6 males, 18 females, total of 24.


Perhaps a list of the Incumbents may not be uninteresting:

Rev. W. Netten - from the beginning until 1879

Rev. J.G. Cragg - 1879-1894

Rev. John Antle - 1894-1897

Rev. E.G. Greenham - 1897-1898

Rev. Theo. R. Nurse - 1898-1900

Rev. G.S. Chamberlain - 1900-1921

Rev. R.F. Mercer - 1921-1923

Rev. T.W. Upward - 1923-1926

Rev. J.T. Hiscock - 1926-1929

Rev. R.F. Mercer (2nd Period), 1929-1943

Rev. S.G. Spurrell- 1943 till the present

There are persons still living within the Mission who can remember them all. I personally knew them all from Mr. Cragg on, and even Mr. Netten died within my memory. Other Clergy who ministered here, either as Curates or on short supply were:

Rev. E. Nichols, Curate 1898-99

Rev. Herbert Bloomfield (from England) - 1900.

Rev. Allan Rowe as Curate - 1928-29.

The extent of the Mission was from the beginning, Little Catalina to Peaches Cove, Southern Head. The population of Peaches Cove migrated to what was then Ragged Harbour (now Melrose) and became absorbed into another Communion. Though Little Catalina has not migrated, but has greatly increased, I' am afraid I must say the bulk of what once was Church of England people have given allegiance to another Communion. But Port Union which has grown up these last 30 years or so has added to the Population, as well as to the work of the Church, quite an increase.

The Church of the Holy Martyrs

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.


Now I think we ought to look back again to the past. Church and School in Newfoundland, thank God, have ever been closely allied, and that is the position still. But the School activities reached beyond the bounds of the Mission to include Bird Island Cove (now Elliston) in what was known as the School Board of Trinity Bay East. The Account Books of the Board go back to 1862. Possibly this was the beginning of the inclusion of Bird Island Cove School in Catalina Mission; but it is quite possible that the connection might have existed before that time. Little Catalina was under this Board till 1878, if Mr. Chard was the Teacher there, and not at Bird Island Cove. The entry for salary does not specify the place, but it looks very much like Little Catalina's Salary. Peaches Cove never had a school.

Port Union had its own board of Education since its founding, but for a few years supported by the grant, the United Church School, until about 20 years ago when it supplied its own Teacher, in its own school.

In 1875 what was the Board for Trinity Bay East, became the Church of England Board of Catalina, after what is generally known as the Subdivision of the Grant. Formerly, what was then the Wesleyan Communion (now U.C. of Canada), was included in the Common Board...

Ever since then both have been separate Boards, and both receive their own several Grants from the Government, so Catalina Board became a separate entity, and has continued so ever since, except for the formation out of it the Church of England Board of Education for Port Union. There are now under the C. of E. Board of Catalina, one High School of two departments at Catalina, with two teachers, Primary School at East Point with one Teacher. Port Union Board has one High School with two teachers, one teacher in each department. The old school under the Trinity Bay East Board was situated near what is now called School House Pond. The next Church of England Board School was built near the Church from 1876-1879. This building has now become the S.U.F. Hall. The third and present School was built in 1934. The East Point School was built in 1892-93. The new Port Union School in 1944.

The Parish Church

The present Parish Church of St. Peter's is at least the second Church built by the Community. It succeeded another Church dedicated to St. Peter and was built very close to the old one. The old Account Book which is still preserved states the total cost was say 1500 pounds, that is $6000. It could not be replaced today for three times that amount. In the same Account Book there is a note stating that the parsonage and outhouse cost about $1200. There is a full list of subscribers and the total cost paid in cash was 1324-18 pounds of which 13 shillings and 10 pence was transferred to the General Church Account. The first subscription (which was only a first instalment) was paid by the Rev. Wm. Netten, the Incumbent, in 1860, 5 pounds, and the last in Dec. 29th, 1875 by Francis Brushett of 2 pounds. The collection was kept open for about 15 years, and every year the Parishioners, and other friends... made a substantial payment nearly every year. The list reveals the splendid generosity of our father and forefathers, who gave abundantly out of their slender means. Though the liberality of present day Catalina Parishioners towards their Church is of a very good order, it would be a stimulant to them to read what their fathers (who did not see anything like the cash they handle nowadays) did out of their very limited means. They certainly left us a good example of what ordinary folks can do, when they put their wills and backs into a good work. Outside subscribers too showed the same generous disposition. Most of these have long ago entered into their rest and on this occasion when we re reviewing their work, the prayer will naturally arise from the lips of their children. "May that Rest be eternal and perpetual light be ever with portion".

This Church is the one we use today, and is in good state of repair and can still be used for many a long year to come. The old Parsonage, a good house for its day, has been replaced by a new one, with modern conveniences and was, completed four years ago. There is a Splendid Parish Hall, and I note with pleasure, it has been extensively repaired and painted this summer. The Church property has always been kept in a very good state of repairs, and with the exception of some fences around the fairly extensive Parsonage grounds is not at all in a bad condition...


A Review of Church Activities, during this past hundred years, would be very incomplete without a few words about the Church of England Women's Association. A branch has been continuously at work here since its inception by Rev. G. Gardiner over 60 years ago, but I remember as a small boy, my mother attending meetings then held in what we used to call the "old end" of Mr. Joseph Guy's old House. Mr. Mark Guy then occupied the other end.

Year in and year out, the faithful few of the women of the congregation have pursued their activities in forwarding every effort made for the upkeep of the Church Premises, and other good works of a Christian congregation.

The debt the Church owes to those women, some of whom are of the third generation, will never be assessed, and some of which never recorded. Like their husbands and husbands' fathers before them, they have lived and worked faithfully for the particular congregation of the Church in which their lot was cast, as well as for the Church generally...

This page has been accessed *