Anglican worship and community have been a vital part of Salt Spring Island life since 1869 when clergy from Chemainus came by boat to hold services in private homes and schools. Between 1884 and 1891 clergy from Victoria began hold services in the four schools - North End, Central, Burgoyne Valley and Beaver Point. In 1891, the first resident minister, Rev. Belton Haslam, was appointed.
A church had been started in 1889, named St. Mark’s, and was completed in 1892 on land given by H. Stevens out of his farm, now the Cunningham property and still known as Church Hill Farm. Click here for more about St. Mark's early years.
Two years later, St. Mary’s at Fulford was finished, built in a cemetery donated by Mr. Sparrow, whose son had been killed in a hunting accident.
In 1894, Rev. Edward Wilson followed Rev. Haslam. As a former missionary to Ontario natives and founder of the Shingwauk Indian residential school near Sault Ste. Marie, he lived in his own house, Barnsbury, on the site of the present Salt Spring Island golf club house. Here all the activities of the church and rectory took place, other than actual services. These included nursing sick members of the congregation from time to time, and even being used as an operating theatre for one of Wilson’s sons; Wilson assisted the surgeon.
When his son Norman took over Barnsbury in 1909, a new rectory was needed. Churchwarden and active parishioner Harry Bullock provided the land, opposite the golf course, from Baker Road to Vesuvius Bay Road, and built the house. It was later sold when Archdeacon Holmes wanted to live closer to the new St. George’s in 1941; it has been a turkey farm, private home, youth centre, and bed-and-breakfast since then.
In 1913, St. Paul’s, a shingled structure with a rounded sanctuary and windows of yellow honeycomb glass so that inside it seemed the sun was always shining, was built on the corner of Dean Road and Fulford Ganges Road. A suspicious fire destroyed St. Paul’s on December 27, 1939.