Historic Harbourville church taking on new role

Nancy Kelly
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The Harbourville United Church may soon be home to a new non-profit society promoting heritage, culture and enterprise in the mountain communities north of Berwick. File 

The plan to establish a north mountain cultural society could breathe new life into a historic church in Harbourville.

The North Mountain United Tapestry Cultural and Heritage Society is a not-for-profit society currently working towards setting up operations in Harbourville’s United Church. The group hopes to open its doors from May to October and annually for a Christmas Eve church service.  Its vision is to support the distinctive culture and natural beauty of the area by providing Harbourville and the neighbouring north mountain communities with a meeting place for a Saturday morning farmer’s market, an artisans co-op, live evening music concerts, workshops and tourism information through historical and cultural displays.

Julie Glaser, Berwick’s director of community development, has been working with the group to get the idea off the ground. As a resident of the mountain community north of Berwick, she sees the opportunity as a way to nurture and promote growth in the local north mountain community.

“There are lots of farmers and artisans living (on the North Mountain), and this will provide a local outlet for what they produce,” explained Glaser, adding interest in fibre and textile arts “is huge in Nova Scotia.”

The group received funding from Kings County to host a strategic planning session in order to gather community input and formalize a development plan. It is scheduled for Jan. 6 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Burlington Community Centre, located on Long Point Road. Anyone interested in attending, or making a submission, is welcome to do so. A potluck lunch will be served and the discussion will be lead by Andy Horsnell of Common Good Solutions.

Society memberships are available to anyone worldwide interested in supporting the organization.

The initiative presents a welcome opportunity and has come at a good time for the church, which is part of the United Church of Canada’s West Cornwallis Pastoral Charge of churches in Berwick, Harbourville and Waterville.

Rev. Tom Woods reported the Harbourville congregation recently voted to amalgamate with the Berwick parish. He cited a dwindling membership and a lack of resources to maintain the structure as reasons to officially cease operations of the Harbourville church.

“The writing was on the wall,” said Woods, adding the Harbourville church has not has regular services for many years.

He is pleased the building, which opened in 1860 as a Methodist Church, will be rejuvenated under plans being made by the new society. He said the agreement can be formalized after the motion to combine the Harbourville and Berwick congregations is formally passed at the church’s upcoming annual meeting in February.  When that occurs, the West Cornwallis Pastoral Charge will maintain ownership of the building and lease it to the newly-minted cultural society.

“It’s a good idea to be working together with this group,” said Woods, adding the church is always looking for “creative ways” to maintain its properties.

“This church will remain a sacred spot while creating opportunity for the community from this new vision.”


Organizations: Historic Harbourville church, The North Mountain United Tapestry Cultural and Heritage Society, Christmas Eve church Burlington Community Centre United Church of Canada Methodist Church

Geographic location: Harbourville, Berwick, North Mountain Nova Scotia Kings Long Point Road

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