The Parish of Johnston


What we now call Highfield was formally called English Settlement. It was settled quite early and was, in early days, a flourishing farming community. The earliest church record that we have is that of the baptism of John, son of Joseph and Mary Pearson, in 1824. There was one baptism in 1830 and two in 1835 and from 1836 on, quite a number. All of these baptisms were performed by the Rev. H. N. Arnold, son of the Rev. Oliver Arnold, the first missionary atSussex, the son succeeding his father atSussex.

          The following two notes from the records of the Diocesan Church Society tell us (A) that there was no church at English Settlement in 1843 and (B) a church was being built there in 1846. In 1843, A Dr. Bevan inquired of the Church Society if they would assist in building a church at English Settlement, in the Parish of Johnston, but the Church Secretary’s reply was-quote “That if a building was erected and properly enclosed to allow Holy Worship, then they would give some assistance in time” –unquote.

          Bishop Medly, who came to his new diocese in 1845, visited English Settlement some time in August, 1846, travelling from Albert County, and quoting from his records “The next day, we proceeded on a smooth and easy road to Sussex Vale, the residence of the Rev. H. N. Arnold, one of the Society’s missionaries. Mr. Arnold accompanied us the following morning to a place called English Settlement, where a church is being built, in which, though unfurnished, I held service, and was pleased to find several of my countrymen fromPlymouth,Tauntonand the West of England. They rejoiced to hear of the prospect of a missionary among them (the Rev. R. D. Palmer came toSpringfieldandJohnstonin 1847), and one of them zealously undertook to be responsible for the completion of the little church and said the clergymen should never want a home whilst he lived. This worthy man expressed his intention of giving land for a glebe.” In 1910, this church burned by a fire which came up from the railroad, believed started by a spark. A new church was built on the same site in 1912, with lumber mostly donated by the people. The builder was Arthur Vradenburg. Pearsonville also donated towards building the new church. The church is in use today on a regular basis, with a minister and two layreaders, members of the congregation. Until it was built, the Methodist or Presbyterian Church was used for services. The bell for the new church was donated by Angus Pearson’s aunt, Ellen J. Pearson, both now deceased.

          At various times one clergyman has served both the Parish of Springfield and the neighboring Parish of Johnston. The Rev. R. D. Palmer worked in both parishes from 1847-1853; The Rev. C. P. Bliss from 1853-1862; the Rev. George Rogers from 1863-1876; the Rev. J. H. Talbot from 1877-1878 and from 1946-1964, the Rev. (now Canon) William E. Hart. Hence it is fitting that in this history of the Parish of Johnston, there should be some mention of the other parishes with whom we had relationships, including also the Parish of Norton, in that the Rev. D. F. Hannington in1895, left Johnston to become rector of the Parish of Norton and was succeeded in Johnston by the Rev. C. A. S. Warneford, son of the Rev. E. A. Warneford, rector of Norton. A plague in memory of the Rev. C. A. S. Warneford hangs in the church at Highfield.

          In 1847, there was a re-arrangement of parishes. The Rev. W. Scovil had been rector of Norton andSpringfield, but was followed by the Rev. E. A. Warneford in the Parish of Norton and the Rev. R. D. Palmer in the Parish of Springfield and the Parish of Johnston was added to the Parish of Springfield. Mr. Palmer was followed by the Rev. C. P. Bliss and the Rev. George Rogers and the Rev. J. H. Talbot as rector ofSpringfieldandJohnston. For a few years, the rector ofSussex, the Rev. C. S. Medley, a son of the first Bishop of the Diocese of Fredericton, and his assistant J. R. deW. Cowie, who later for many years, was at St. Anne’s Church,Fredericton, served bothJohnstonandWaterford, in addition toSussex. In the annual report for 1883, Mr. Cowie asks the question, “How can a priest and a deacon work four parishes, (Sussex, Studholm,Waterfordand Johnston)?” Also between 1868 and 1881, the Rev. B. Shaw, of the Parish of Cambridge, performed baptisms in the Parish of Johnston.

          A new day dawned for the Parish of Johnston, when, on July 8, 1884, the Rev. C. P. Hannington became the first of three rectors, resident in the Parish. A house had been bought and repaired for the rectory at a cost of $409.51. In 1895, Mr. Hannington was succeeded by the Rev. C. A. S. Warneford and he for thirty-two years, was the beloved pastor of his people. The old timers speak of his day as “the good old days”. The annual frolic to cut the parson’s firewood was a busy and happy day. The Sunday school picnic was a big day, and not just for children only. People came for miles around to attend the “Highfield Picnic”! Just when the exodus from English Settlement began is not for us to determine. In 1927, Mr. Warneford died and he is buried in the cemetery at the Church of the Ascension, Lower Norton. The Rev. E. C. Budd followed him and remained in the parish until his death in 1946. His widow returned to her nativeSwitzerland. There was no prospect of another clergyman coming to live in the parish and the rectory, which had fallen into a bad state of disrepair, was sold a few years after Mr. Budd’s death.

          Following Mr. Budd’s death, the Rev. William E. Hart until 1964, ministered to the congregations atSt. John’s, Highfield, andSt. Paul’s,Goshen.Goshenby this time had become almost totally deserted and on July 20, 1975, the Rt. Rev. Harold Nutter, Bishop of the Diocese of Fredericton, deconsecratedSt. Paul’s,Goshen. The so-called “Crawford” window was kindly given to the church at Highfield by the Crawford family and is installed in the east wall above the altar. A re-dedication of the window was made later that same year.

          Following Canon Hart’s retirement, the two churches were ministered by the Rev. Norman. P. Fairweather, a retired clergyman, assisted by Layreaders fromSussexand the Parish of Cambridge. During the late sixties, Canon H. Hoyt apparently held a once-a-month communion service at Highfield. The Rev. Roy Farnham served from 1969 until November, 1970, when he died following a severe heart attack. He was followed by Canon Harold Hazen, in August, 1971. Rev. Harry E. Dysart next served the Parish from the seventies until the summer of 1975. In July, 1975, the Rev. Roderick Doering served from then until September 19, 1976. On October 3, 1976, we were ministered to by the Rev. Marven McDermott, who was called to serve Canon Hart’s parishes. In September 1977, Diocesan Layreader, Dr. R. Lee Whitney moved with his wife and family, to Keirstead Farm, Collina, to serve as  Layreader to the Rev. Marven McDermott, in his parishes, plusSt. John’sat Highfield and we were fortunate enough to have him as our own deacon-in-charge. In December 1981, he was ordained to the priesthood atTrinityChurch, inSussexby Rt. Rev. Harold Nutter, and since then was ministered to our needs at Highfield assisted by two Layreaders.

          AtGoshen, in early days, baptisms were performed in the Orange Hall. It was reported in the Synod Journal of 1883, that atGoshen, John Leonard, a mill operator, was building a church almost on his own; he gave the lumber, sawed it, and bagged and borrowed money for it. This church was built on the road down the stream, a road which is now used to some extent for lumbering operations. Recently a man lumbering in the area came across some of the old headstones in fairly good condition. This road is known locally as theLeonard Road. In 1903,St. Paul’sGoshenwas moved up to the site of the present cemetery and some of the graves were also moved. The cemetery is well kept, and from time to time, funerals are conducted there. Two trustees fromSt. John’s, Highfield, administer the cemetery funds.

          In 1888, the Rev. C. P. Hannington, reported that he was holding services for the first time in Bagdad. The congregation was about 50 persons and a Sunday school was being started. A need was felt for the church. Robert Jeffery gave the land and on March 3rd, 1895, the first service was held at All Saints,Bagdad. Previous to this, a small church, 17ft. by 35 ft. was built at Canaan Rapids. In time, this church was dismantled and the lumber taken to Cole’sIsland, but there was no serious attempt to build a church there.

          Mr. Herrington held services every Sunday at St. John’s, Highfield and fortnightly at five other points – Goshem, Bagdad, Canaan Rapids, Cody’s and Annidale. Services were held in a hall at Cody’s. There was felt a need for enlarging the hall or building a church. But neither course was followed; the hall burnt down and the services were discontinued. Annidale at one time and a railway station, a school and quite a number of farms and homes. Now Annidale is altogether deserted, all the buildings have fallen down and the cleared fields are growing up. Traffic still travels the road running from Highfield to Annidale, thence Joliff Brook, East Scotch Settlement and on to Stewarton and Belleisle Creek.

          Two clergymen have come from the Parish of Johnston. Archdeacon H. A. Cody studied at Kings’s College,Windsor,NS. It was a notable day for the parish when, inSt. John’sChurch, Highfield, he was ordained to the priesthood on June 5, 1897. Four hundred people were present but they could not all have possibly gotten into the church proper. After eight years as Rector of the Parish of Greenwich, Archdeacon Cody was sent to theYukon. He was an author of some renown. For many years he was Rector of St. James Church inSaint John.

          Canon C. Murray Hatheway was born and spent his early years in Annidale. He moved toSaint Johnwith his family. He is a graduate ofWycliffeCollege,Toronto. Like Archdeacon Cody, he, too, became rector of St. James Church inSaint John.

          On the road between Long Creek and Collina, there are two communities – Highfield and Pearsonville. Take all the Peasons out of Highfield and all the Crealocks (members of theUnitedChurch) out of Pearsonville and very few people would be left. The original home of the Pearson family in this country was in the old stone house on theAnin Roadnear Apohaqui on the Norton side.


Compiled by:

(Mrs David) Pearson

St. John’sChurch, Highfield

After Rev. Whitney’s time in the parish was concluded, services were held by the Rev. Ron Rippen who had retired toCambridgeNarrows. In 2003, the Rev. Leo Martin, then rector of the parish ofUpper Kennebecasis, assumed responsibility for the Parish of Johnston. Rev. Martin faithfully served the declining numbers of the parish until 2011 when the Parish of Johnston ceased to exist on its own andSt. John’sChurchbecame a second point in the Parish of Sussex. In 2011, from May until October one service of Holy Communion was held each month by Archdeacon David Barrett fromTrinity Church,Sussex, and layreader Marie McNeil alternated one service a month of Morning or Evening prayer. Services have not been held in 2012.