St. Alban’s Anglican Church, Gooseberry Cove

The first baptism recorded at Gooseberry Cove was on July 15, 1837 when Mary Ann, a daughter of Thomas and Mary Langer was baptized. The first recorded marriage was of Mark Seward, son of Richard and Priscilla Seward of New Perlican, and Grace George on May 22, 1840. In all likelihood, these services took place in a home. In 1859 a Church of England (Anglican) school was built at nearby Heart’s Ease Beach. This school also served as the church for the area, with George Vardy of Clay Pits, as the lay reader. Around 1880, a church (called St. Alban’s), a school and a rectory were built at the ‘crossroads’ in Gooseberry Cove. The church also served those of the Church of England faith in the neighbouring communities of Southport, Butter Cove, George’s Cove, Heart’s Ease Beach, Clay Pits, Little Harbour and St. Jones’ Without. The parish, which included all Church of England parishioners in the Southwest Arm and Random Island, was called the Parish of Random. Prior to 1880, clergymen visited from Trinity, Heart’s Content and New Harbour.

By 1928 it was decided that a new St. Alban’s Church needed to be built at Gooseberry Cove. Rev. S. R. Shepherd conducted the last service, Evensong, in the former St. Alban’s Church on May 23, 1928. Mr. Bryant began taking down the church the next day, the 24th of May. The cornerstone for the new church was laid on Wednesday, September 5, 1928 at 2 p.m. by Rev. Shepherd, assisted by lay reader, Malcolm Pitcher of Gooseberry Cove. The sermon for the service was entitled “Christ, the cornerstone”. The old school near the church was used for services during the building of the new church. From 1928 to 1932 many couples wishing to be married, travelled to Hodge’s Cove where the ceremony was conducted in the church there. On May 15, 1932 the new St. Alban’s Church was declared officially open for the first time by Rev. C. D. Sparshot. During this service the first baptism was conducted in the new church. Andrew Malcolm Smith, son of John B. and Annie Gladys Smith of Gooseberry Cove was received into the church.  The first funeral was for baby Clayton Spurrell, son of David and Gladys Spurrell of Butter Cove on August 27, 1932. The first marriage took place on November 2, 1933 when Martin Joseph Seward, son of Peter and Amelia Seward of Gooseberry Cove was united in marriage to Rebecca Ivany, daughter of Caleb and Elizabeth Rebecca Jane Ivany of Southport.

The new church was consecrated by Right Reverend Philip Abraham, Lord Bishop of Newfoundland at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, October 22, 1947. He was attended by the Parish clergyman, Rev. M.C. M. Jones.

Over the years, St. Alban’s Church has been kept in good repair and it is the oldest church in the area. 2018 will see it celebrate its 100th anniversary. The grand old church continues to be used by Anglican parishioners from Gooseberry Cove, Southport, Butter Cove and Little Harbour.



Reprinted from the website Churches of the Parish of the Holy Spirit


The first St. Alban’s Church was built in Gooseberry Cove in 1880 near the site of the current Church. It opened in October of that year with the first priest being The Reverend J.S. Saunderson. The last official service celebrated in that Church was an Evening Prayer of song and praise on ‘Rogation Sunday’, May 23, 1928, with The Rev’d S. R. Shepherd officiating.

The old St. Alban’s Church was torn down, and the cornerstone for the new one was laid on Setember 5, 1928. Area residents raised funds for the Church through the sales of picking blueberries, catching fish, and making hoops for barrels. Trees were cut and a makeshift saw mill was built on the site. The foundation pillar was from four barrels, used as the form, and shores. These are still visible today in the basement of the Church.

Like most outport churches, St. Alban Church was built with free labour from its congregation. However, Mr. Harrison Bryant of New Perlican was contracted to complete the exterior of the building and the tower. In 1940, this tower was extended to its present height by Mr. George Pitman of New Perlican.

Mr. Moses Martin, a well-known carpenter from Little Heart’s Ease, took on the daunting task of building the interior of St. Alban’s Church. Using the hand tools of the day, he worked meticiously to shape the archways, entrances, pillars, windows and the chancel. His work is still preserved today and is admired by all who visit the church.

St. Peter’s Anglican Church, Little Harbour, donated the pews, reading desk, lectern and altar. The Baptismal Font was saved from the old Church and is located at the front of St. Alban’s near the vestry door. Some new pews were necessary and they were purchased.

St. Alban the Martyr was consecrated on October 22, 1947, by the Rt. Rev’d Philip Abraham. It stands atop the hill just before entering Southport and serves the parishoners from the picturesque communities of Butter Cove, Gooseberry Cove, and Southport.

In the summer of 2005, some of the windows were replaced. Vestry members were delighted to have Cluney Martin, grandson, and Nathan Martin, great-grandson of Moses Martin work on these renovations.

The first baptism at St. Alban’s Church was Andrew Malcolm Smith, son of John and Annie Smith; first burial was Baby Clayton Spurrell; and the first marriage was between Joseph Seward and Rebecca Ivany.

Today, St. Alban’s serves approximately 60 families and is ministered to by The Rev’d Nelson Chatman, Associate Priest; The Rev’d Myrna Vey, Deacon; and a team of dedicated Licensed Lay Ministers.

Chartman Nelson

Rev. Nelson Chatman

In the Spring of 2006, a Restoration Committee was formed to come up with a fund-raising strategy to raise enough funds to help with a major Church Restoration Project. A direct mail campaign was chosen as the main fundraiser. The response was excellent! They were successful in raising over $10,000 toward the project. Along with funds from Service Canada, those funds allowed for the addition of a 12′ x 24′ extension to the Vestry with a quiet room, the Minister’s room was made smaller but received a window and French door, an accessible entrance with a 92′ ramp, the restoration of the spire capped with an aluminum cap and cross, and the installation of 23 more new windows. There are now 30 new windows installed in the Vestry and body of the Church. Click on the above underlined link for more on St. Alban’s restoration.

In September 2008, St. Alban’s will celebrate its 80th Anniversary of the laying of the corner stone. This beautiful House of Worship stands as perfect today as it did when built in 1928.

In 2007, there were 3 baptisms, 2 burials and 1 marriage at St. Alban the Martyr.