Fire Guts Landmark: Church Victim of Teen Mischief

Article excerpt

Lunenburg, N.S.

One of the oldest Anglican churches in Canada has been destroyed by fire, apparently after Halloween mischief.

People in Lunenburg, N.S., wept openly on street corners Nov. 1 as they watched St. John church, a 247-year-old landmark tucked in the centre of their south shore fishing village, gobbled up by flames.

More than 120 firefighters spent 16 hours trying to save the Gothic revival style building, but in the end the white clapboard church was reduced to little more than a burned out shell.

"It's a huge loss for the church and the wider community," said Archbishop Arthur Peters of the diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. "St. John's has always occupied a prominent place within the history and life of the church and the Lunenburg community.

"We know a church building is not the essence of church, but it does holds memories, and in this case many years of memories."

Bishop Fred Hiltz, rector of St. John's from 1988 to 1995, was among the grieving crowd in the community, located an hour southwest of Halifax.

"I loved this building. I loved these people and I just could not stay home. I felt a need to be here with them," he said.

The church was a designated heritage property and a key part of the town's 1995 designation as a United Nation's heritage site. Its steeple has appeared prominently in thousands of paintings and drawings of Lunenburg's waterfront.

David Dauphinee, a former parish warden and Lunenburg's deputy mayor, watched the blaze in horror throughout the night. …