St. John's Then
The first clergyman to visit the community of St. Eleanor's was a Reverend Louis Jenkins who was a missionary of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (SGP). The Rev'd Jenkins had been on his way to a posting in Quebec in 1821 when bad weather forced the ship to stop in PEI. He would end up spending a winter in Charlottetown during which time he married the daughter of a local Anglican Priest, the Rev'd Theophilus DesBrisay. During his time here The Rev'd Jenkins visited many rural settlements and conducted services of baptism and marriage for those who could not travel to Charlottetown. In 1822 Jenkins carried on to his posting in Quebec and left the Island.
Eventually St. Eleanor's began to grow and the people wanted to
build a church of their own and in 1823 the community sent a letter to the SGP expressing the need for a clergyman and spoke of their fondness for The Rev'd Jenkins. Their request was granted and help came in 1824 when The Rev'd Jenkins returned to St. Eleanor's. The community still lacked a church but held services in the home of Colonel Harry Compton while Jenkins and his wife lived in the home of George Tanton Sr., until such time that a Rectory was built.
That year, Bishop John Inglis (son of the first Bishop of Nova Scotia, Charles Inglis) visited St. Eleanor's and consecrated the church site and burial grounds, and by May of 1827 the exterior of a new church was complete and services began to be held there. The following year the parish constructed a Rectory not far down the street into which Jenkins and family moved; this Rectory would continue to serve the parish until 1933.
Tragically, on November 22nd, 1835 the church was completely destroyed by fire. In 1838 construction began on a new church and took four years to finish. Assumed to be similar in exterior design to the original church, the building was constructed by George Tanton, Jr., who had erected the earlier building
Local cabinet maker Robert Ellis was hired to finish the interior of the church, including the pews, between 1841 and 1847. In 1888 further changes took place which saw the lowering of the ceiling of the chancel, the addition of two new
vestry rooms on either side of the chancel, and a lowering and alteration of the original box pews which had been a step up from the floor of the nave.
In 1967 a Lych Gate was placed at the entrance to the church yard in memory of W.H. Pope, Father of Confederation, who is buried in the cemetery, and to mark the centennial celebrations taking place that year. In 2017 the Lych Gate was stabilized, repainted, and restored by a few dedicated and skilled parishioners.
St. John's is noted for its Gothic Revival architectural style and for its prominent place on the South Drive streetscape of St. Eleanor's. It is the oldest Anglican church on Prince Edward Island and one of the oldest structures within the city of Summerside.
St. John's Now
With the advent of cars and the expansion of the city of Summerside the Parish of St. Eleanor's and the Parish of Summerside combined in the middle of the 20th century; St. John's and St. Mary's now share a Rector and hall facilities. St. John's also boasts a large and active Sunday School which meets during part of the service every Sunday.
Sung Eucharist is celebrated each Sunday morning at St. John's at 9:15am