By: Father Clerance Thibeau


When, in 1956, the Church was enlarged from a rectangular shape to a cruciform shape, we dared to dream that , someday, it might be further enlarged, returning to a rectangular form, easily doubling its capacity. Members of the Parish Council discussed a variety of shapes and forms, but could not reach a consensus. An engineer, on the Council, eventually drew up an entire new design, which opened the eyes of all, to the other options. Still, the Council hesitated, and this proved fortunate.

The president of the Parish Council was Dr. Robert Campbell ( whose wife , Joan, was our organist) a local physician, was also the Mayor of Shelburne. It so happened that a new school was being built in Town by Paul Armstrong Construction Company, of Sainte Anne du Rusisseau , Yarmouth County. The architect was Keith Graham of Halifax. Dr. Campbell enticed the Architect to take a look at our church building, and possibly draw up a plan for enlarging, in keeping with the present design. He noticed that we had some thirty , hand-drawn, pencil designs, on scrap paper, and he asked for them, saying he would take them back to his Halifax Office, and work on them. Some weeks later, on a regular trip to Shelburne, supervising the school construction, he presented us with a drawing ( the present design) which immediately won the approval of the Parish Council. His plan cleverly enlarged the Church, yet preserved the familiar appearance.

Mr. George Mahaney, the highly experienced carpenter who had very satisfactorily enlarged the Church in 1957, agreed to again enlarge our church, pleased, this time, to have a professionally prepared plan from which to proceed. As was the case in l957, the opening of the outside walls caused some discomfort to the parishioners at weekend Masses, but the work progressed quickly, and the prospects of a larger, more appealing design, dispelled any impatience.


Actively involved in ham radio, I kept tabs on the sale of electronic items being sold through Crown Assets ( formerly known as War Assets) of Halifax. Having made a modest bid for a batch of resistors, it came as a surprise that the bid was accepted. Hitching the trailer to my Chevrolet, I drove to the Halifax Depot to pick up my treasure trove. The gentleman in charge directed me to a section of the large warehouse where a number of large, wooden-crated items were stacked. These were not small, hand-held resistors, as are used in table radios, but large, commercial-sized resistors, used to reduce land current, to military ships. My trailer could not have held a fraction of them. Standing there in bewilderment, wondering what to do with them, a gentleman came up alongside and asked if I would consider selling them. Hardly able to believe what I was hearing, I pretended to be a business-minded person, and began to barter with him. It so happened that this man owned a salvage warehouse in Mahone Bay, being a regular customer of Crown Assets. He agreed to take them off my hands, and I would stop off at his warehouse on my way home and trade for items I could use. Once there, I exchanged those monstrous resistors, for the overhead lamps needed for our enlarged church, plus a public-address system. What, at first, appeared to be a colossal bad purchase, turned out to be a Godsend.


It was a hot day in Summer when I decided to install the recently bartered lamps, in the Church ceiling. A number of volunteer parishioners were painting the walls and trim in the main Church. After turning off the circuit breaker supplying electricity to the overhead church lights, I proceeded to climb into the crawl space, above the ceiling, to wire in the lights. The enclosed crawl-space, on that warm day, became like an oven, and both my hands and forehead were sweating profusely. Now and again I noticed a slight spark as I handled the wires, but attributed this to the stifling heat and humidity. When I finally finished, and descended to the main church, a parishioner asked why the lights had been flickering. Curiously checking the circuit-breaker panel, I then realized that I had carelessly pulled the wrong breaker, and that I had actually wired the lights with live wires. I thanked my angel for protecting this careless cleric, but that didnít spare a few night-mares.


Happening to visit the Church as the oil company employee was installing the new hot-air furnace, I was shocked to see him attempting to saw through the main sill (the huge beam that runs along the foundation helping to hold the two sides of the building intact) in order to insert a heating duct. Telling him to stop immediately, I asked to speak to his boss, who later came by to apologize for the fellow and he assured me that the heating duct had been re-routed safely. There would have been fears of the side walls buckling and the roof collapsing on the heads of the congregation.


On a return trip from a Deanery meeting ( those monthly meetings of priests) at Annapolis, I noticed an abundance of pine tree saplings along the edge of the Caledonia to Liverpool highway. They averaged two feet tall, with a stock the size of a finger. Laying claim to a few of these, they were then planted near the Church parking lot, and today are fully-grown trees.


Ken Collupy, of the firm of Robert & Kenneth Collupy, spent several days bulldozing , removing boulders and levelling the lower, vacant portion of the Cemetery, adjacent to St. Thomas Church. This facilitated grave digging, and beautified the grounds.


Construction-wise, it was a busy year. The parishioners of St. Thomas Parish were pleased with the more spacious and shapely church building, without the heavy burden of a long-term debt.

Many meetings held in the Western part of the County successfully concluded with the construction of St. Philipís Mission Church. Details of this may be found in another part of this book.