Jemseg, situated in Queens County, is positioned on the eastern bank of the Jemseg River, which flows a short distance from Grand Lake to the Saint John River. This village briefly served as the capital of Acadia from 1690 to 1691.
The majority of “Jemsegers” reside along the banks of the Jemseg River, a deep and narrow waterway connecting Grand Lake and the Saint John River. The locals often refer to two distinct villages known as “Upper” and “Lower” Jemseg. Jemseg is believed to be the oldest name in Queens County. Its origins can be traced back to a Malecite word, Ah-jem-sik, meaning “picking up place,” alluding to the trading activities that traditionally took place here during the pre-contact era and continued through both the English and French occupations of the area. Initially, Jemseg consisted of two separate villages, Lower Jemseg and Upper Jemseg.
Over the past two centuries since the arrival of the Loyalists, the population has remained relatively stable, with newcomers blending in with the original settlers. Schools, stores, and businesses have come and gone, and churches have been established. Saint James Anglican Church, constructed in 1887 in Lower Jemseg, is a remarkable architectural gem, representative of rural churches found across the country.
Saint James Anglican Church is situated in the Parish of Cambridge & Waterborough within the Diocese of Fredericton.
Here are some noteworthy highlights about the church:
The foundation stone, made of red polished granite, was laid on August 4, 1887.
The first service in the church took place on Christmas Day, 1887.
Bishop Medley consecrated the church in June 1889.
Saint James is one of the few stone churches in rural New Brunswick.
The church is constructed using local sandstone, which was gathered over a span of two years from fields surrounding Dykeman Lake. Ten families contributed to piling the stone, hauling it, and assisting with the rough work.
Granite for the buttresses was donated from the quarry at Hampstead, and leftover Caen stone from the construction of Christ Church Cathedral in France was utilized to adorn the window frames, doors, and chancel arch.
An intriguing architectural feature of the church is a small round window at the west end, known as a “Lepers’ squint.”
The land for the church was generously provided by Mr. Samuel Scovil.
The builders of the church were Messrs. Cadwalleder and Cummings from Fredericton.
In 1891, a horse shed was erected, costing $40.00, to facilitate attendance during the winter months.
The present Women’s Institute Hall, visible from the church’s entrance, was originally the Saint James Chapel of Ease. It was consecrated on July 3, 1849 and was relocated from its original site to make way for the current church in 1887.
Although regular Sunday services are not held, the church continues to be utilized for special occasions.
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