The St. James and St. John United Church and Graveyard in Miramichi is a two-story Greek Revival church built by master builder William Murray between 1829 and 1830, accompanied by an adjacent graveyard that is the final resting place for many notable Miramichi pioneers.
The St. James and St. John United Church and Graveyard is acknowledged as a Local Historic Place due to its connections with prominent community leaders, its contribution to the area’s religious history, and its architectural significance.
The St. James and St. John United Church is recognized for its associations with Rev. William Aitken and Lord Beaverbrook. Rev. William Aitken, Lord Beaverbrook’s father, served as the church’s minister for twenty-three years, and the church manse was Lord Beaverbrook’s childhood home. Born William Maxwell Aitken, Lord Beaverbrook would later become one of the most prominent local and provincial benefactors, thanks to his keen business acumen and political skills.
The St. James and St. John United Church and Graveyard signify the enduring presence of religion in the community. The church was constructed on the site of a partially completed church destroyed in the Great Miramichi Fire of 1825. In 1926, with the establishment of the United Church, St. James’ congregation merged with St. John’s Methodist congregation, and the church was renamed St. James and St. John United Church. Elements such as the pulpit and chalices were acquired from St. John Methodist Church, reflecting the diverse origins of the new congregation.
Originally constructed as St. James Presbyterian Church by master builder William Murray between 1829 and 1830, this two-story building showcases the symmetry and grandeur characteristic of the Greek Revival style. The pine timbers used in the construction bear scorch marks from being salvaged from the forest after the Miramichi Fire of 1825. The current interior layout reflects modifications made in 1909 to accommodate a pipe organ, minister and choir rooms, and alterations to the gallery. In 1919, Lord Beaverbrook gifted the pipe organ to the congregation in memory of his father.
Encircling the church on three sides, the graveyard comprises tablets, obelisks, pilaster columns, and pedestal monuments made of marble, sandstone, granite, and slate. It serves as the burial site for many of Miramichi’s founders and pioneers, including Father of Confederation Hon. Peter Mitchell, benefactors John Harkins and Ernest Hutchison, and Lord Beaverbrook’s father, Rev. William Aitken.
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