The first church of St. Joseph was built in an area now known as Chipman’s Corner between 1688 and 1689. It was located about two miles northeast of the present St. Joseph’s Church in Kentville. In 1689, the territory was divided into two parishes, one being St. Charles with its centre at Grand-Pré, and the other, St. Joseph’s at Riviere aux Canard. The latter included the district from the Cornwallis River to Pereaux.
With the Expulsion of the Acadians in 1755, the church building was razed to the ground and with it an attempt made to remove the church body. Irish settlers in the Kentville area gave the parish renewed strength, and in 1839, an acre of land for a church, cemetery and residence for a parish priest was deeded for the Roman Catholic Church.
Organized Catholic missionary work in Kentville did not begin until 1853. Work began on a new St. Joseph’s Parish Church about 1840 and was completed on December 10, 1853. It was a plain, wooden building capable of seating about one hundred fifty people. The Parish was first known as the District of Cornwallis, Kentville and Aylesford before it became St. Joseph’s.
In 1892 the church was demolished and the present church on Chapel Hill was begun by Rev. Philip M. Holden. The cornerstone was laid on October 26th. The building of the Glebe house was begun in 1906 and completed in the fall of 1907. In 1923 the interior of the church was redecorated and refurbished. The altar was erected as a memorial to the men of the parish who died in the First World War. In 1952 a side chapel was dedicated. Through the years improvements have been made and a new organ installed. In 1981 a new chapel was added to the church.
The oldest tombstone in St. Joseph’s Churchyard is that of Martin Ryan, a native of County Tipperary, Ireland, who died December 16, 1838, aged sixty-two.
In the words of local historian Mabel G.Nichols; “…The church is one of the finest structures in the town and its tall symmetrical tower with its illuminated cross may be seen from a considerable distance.”
Coffill-Deveau, Mary. “Parish’s colorful history unfolds during its 300th birthday.” The Advertiser. April 18, 1989: pg. 1C.