On June 9, 1763, Rev. Joseph Bennet, a missionary of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, conducted divine service in the vincity of Horton Corner. This date may be said to mark the beginning of Anglican worship in what is now the Parish of Kentville.
Until St. James Church was built in Kentville, the people wanting to attend Anglican services drove to the Parish Church of St. John’s in Wolfville. The first services of the Anglican Church in Kentville were held in the school house. The Parish Church was still St. John’s in Wolfville, but the number of worshippers in Kentville was now so considerable that the need of a resident clergyman became necessary.
From 1841 Rev. John Storrs, Rector of the parishes of Horton and Cornwallis, conducted services in the school house in Kentville. So promising did the Kentville mission become that between 1843 and 1846 a St. James “Chapel of Ease” was built on the west side of what is now Aberdeen Street. St. James was consecrated on September 4, 1848. In 1854 the Rectory was built. The Rectory is located on Highland Avenue. On April 12, 1855, Rev. H. L. Yewens announced that the parishes of Cornwallis and Horton would be divided. The District of St. James, Kentville, was set off as a separate charge.
In 1882 Rev. J. O. Ruggels had the church moved from Aberdeen Street to a site further eastward (45 Church Avenue, on the site of the Salvation Army Citadel), and had the church somewhat enlarged. In April 1893, the parish of St. James, with fixed boundaries for the first time, became entirely independent from Wolfville. In 1907 the property on the corner of Main Street and Prospect Hill, was purchased for a future building lot. In October 1922, the cornerstone of the present church was laid.
In 1946 plans were made for a new hall, which was opened in 1947 although it was incomplete on the second floor. It was finished in 1954. In 1957 the people of St. James observed the 35th anniversary of the laying of the cornerstone. In 1968 the church was willed the residence of the late Miss L. Spidell. It was sold in 1969 and the proceeds were invested in a memorium to her.
St. James is one of the few churches left in the area that is constructed of stone. It is a stately old church which adds greatly to the beauty of Kentville.
Eaton, Arthur Wentworth Hamilton. The History of Kings County. Belleville, Ontario: Mika Studio, 1972.
Gibson, M. Allen. “St. James’ Anglican Church, Kentville.” The Chronicle- Herald. June 10, 1989: unknown page.
Nichols, Mabel G. The Devil’s Half Acre – A Look at Kentville’s Past. Kentville: Kentville Centennial Committee, 1986.