Monument to ‘church in the wildwood’

By Lois Ann Dort    

MELFORD – There is a small clearing in the forest nestled close to the waters of the Strait of Canso in Melford, just off route 344. When you travel the short gravel path to the place where the Melford United Church once stood you can feel the peacefulness of the location, which led to the foundation of the church on that spot in the early 1900s. To this day, walking among the gravestones with familiar community names engraved upon them, it is certain that the deceased are resting in peace.

The Melford Church, originally a Methodist church becoming United in 1925, was complete in 1905, the land donated by the Terminal City Company Ltd. of Boston Massachusetts in 1902. The original congregation members who assisted in the building of the church bore such family names as Crittchet, Parks, Grant, Byers, Bigsby and Hunt.

Services at the little church in the wildwood; so-called due to its location in a small clearing surrounded by spruce trees, were held monthly and later twice monthly according to the needs and size of the congregation. Weddings and baptisms in the church brought great joy to the surrounding community. The church served to comfort the congregation in times of need as well.

Time changes all things, and as with many other rural churches, the congregation of the Melford United Church dwindled over the years and the maintenance of the church became too great a burden for the remaining congregation members. It was finally decided to sell the church which led to its removal from the site approximately 10 years ago.

Last year community members with ties to the church and loved ones buried in the cemetery decided to erect a monument in memory of the church in the wildwood. As of July, the monument was firmly in place, acting as a memory stone for all who have been part of the history of the Melford United Church.

There will be an official dedication ceremony for the monument on August 21 at 3 p.m. at the former Melford United Church site.