St. James Church in Long Reach stands prominently on a sizable hill, offering a breathtaking view of the St. John River. This location embodies the saying, “A house upon a hill cannot be hidden.”
Long Reach is steeped in history and tradition. In 1611, during the French occupation, the first religious service on the St. John River took place on an island opposite the present-day church. Captain John Gorham sailed up “The Reach” in 1758, claiming the land for Great Britain. In 1783, Loyalists traveled up Long Reach to settle along the riverbanks and establish the Province of New Brunswick.
Nestled on the slopes of the hills are the homes of the residents, descendants of the Loyalists who cleared the land and began a Mission. Parish Clergymen from Kingston occasionally held services in the homes of the local people. The challenge of traveling through the large parish likely motivated the construction of St. James Church.
Brown Whelpley donated the land for St. James Church, and local men using local materials built the church between 1841 and 1843. Samuel Foster oversaw the construction and built the unique “Three Decker Pulpit” with a Circular communion Rail. The church features a Queen Anne design and is the only one of its kind in any Anglican Church in the province. It is thought to be the only one of its type in any Anglican Church in Canada.
Before the consecration, the Bishop required that the seats should be made free, with pew holders signing an agreement that reserved the right to sell individual pews if deemed advisable by the Bishop while they resided in the Parish. This time never came. In 1915, the original box pews were replaced by modern pews, with the old pew panels forming the wainscot around the interior walls.
The Bible on the Reading Desk has been in use since the church’s inception, presented by the Church Society in 1843. For eighty years, a “Plain Deal Table” served as the Altar until the current Altar was installed and dedicated in 1926, originally from St. Luke’s Church in Young’s Cove, where it had likely been in use since 1853.
On October 30, 1845, the Right Reverend John Medley consecrated the Church, naming it Saint James Church, Long Reach.
In 1938, a Church Hall was built across the road from Saint James Church in memory of Mrs. Frances Smith, a faithful servant of the Church for many years. It was named “Frances Smith Memorial Hall.” A fire destroyed the building in 1948, and a new building was erected on the same site, bearing the same name.
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