The first St. Margaret’s was founded around 1870, when Bishop John Medley bought the “Old School House by the Side of the Road” to use as a mission. His wife, Margaret Medley, was interested in and concerned about the people of “The Mills” (Morrison’s Mill, Victoria Mill, Salamanca, Doak Settlement and Lincoln), who lived too far out of town to conveniently attend Sunday service at the Cathedral or St. Anne’s. The old school house was used for Sunday School and occasional services.
In a few years, the building was extended and regular services were conducted by Cathedral clergy and divinity students studying under Bishop Medley. St. Anne’s (now Christ Church Parish Church) became legally responsible for all mission work within the boundaries of the parish of Fredericton. Early during the ministry there of Canon Roberts, it took over responsibility for St. Margaret’s. At this time, it became a Chapel of Ease of the parish of Fredericton.
In 1886, the chapel was extended again and the extension was used as a hall. It was recognized that a larger facility was needed, and under Canon Cowie the congregation began planning. The first sod was turned in June 1919 and part of the cellar was excavated that summer, but work did not begin in earnest until 1921, under Archdeacon Bate. The cornerstone was laid on June 21 of that year. The new church was opened December 12, 1923, at which time Bishop Richardson confirmed 15 candidates, including the late Graham Forrest, the Warden Emeritus.
St. Margaret’s had its own mission for a time, too. From the late 1920′s to the mid 1940′s, the services were held in the old school house in Doak Settlement.
In the mid-1960′s, it was recognized that the site on the Lincoln Road was inadequate. There was insufficient parking, the church had no running water and the short walk from the church to the hall was dangerous, especially in the winter, because of the heavy traffic. As well, the cellar flooded nearly every spring. In January 1968, a three-acre lot on Forest Hill Road was bought from UNB.
Until 1967, St. Margaret’s had been served by clergy from St. Anne’s. The first resident Vicar, Edwin (Ted) Spencer, was appointed in that year, and he became the first Rector in March 1968, when the New Brunswick Legislature passed an Act to Incorporate the Rector, Wardens and Vestry of St. Margaret’s Church in the Parish of Fredericton. This made St. Margaret’s a separate church within the parish of Fredericton instead of a Chapel of Ease.
On December 1, 1990, the Parish of Fredericton was split and St. Margaret’s became a separate parish. Its legal boundaries are basically from University Avenue to the Nevers Road, and from the St. John River to the city limits at New Maryland.
The Lincoln road facilities continued to deteriorate, despite heroic efforst to maintain them, and in 1991 the Annual Meeting resolved to proceed with construction of a new facility as soon as possible. It took over two years to create a suitable plan, but on August 14, 1994, a two-phase plan was approved at a Special Meeting.
Construction began on Phase I in September 1994, and the first service in the new (unfinished) building was held on January 1, 1995. The new facility contains a sanctuary, two meeting rooms, a kitchen, a vestry and a study for the Rector. It also has the first immersion font in the diocese. While the church is modern in design, it incorporates many features from the old church, including most of the furniture, the hanging lights and stained glass windows.
The old church building was deconsecrated and the new building dedicated by Bishop George Lemmon on February 5, 1995, in the presence of Her Honour Margaret Norrie McCain, Lieutenant-Governor of New Brunswick, and her husband, as well as various other dignitaries.
Phase I was paid for in five years, and tentative plans are being made for Phase II, an attached social and educational centre.