By: Andrew D. Pretty
Before getting in depth with the history of All Saints' Church one should get somewhat acquainted of the position prior to 1878 when the first building was built. Dildo, with a population of 337 in 1874, 302 of whom were Church of England was part of the New Harbour mission which serviced the surrounding area. The Congregation of Dildo which was settled around 1790 attended St. George's Church which was located in Cat Cove and consecrated in 1827. The practice of attending St. Georges' continued until 1878, when the Dildo congregation provided their first church, school and cemetery.
The first All Saints' Church was located at a site near the present war memorial. Plans for this church were made during the incumbency of Rev. Henry Petley who resided in Dildo, However the building was nearly completed when Rev. A. C. Waghorne was appointed to the mission in May 1878. The church was consecrated by Bishop Llewellyn Jones in November 1878, The exact date is unknown.
The wooden building when completed was 30 feet wide and 80 feet long, including the chancel and porch and had a seating capacity of 250. From all reports, the interior of this building was beautiful yet simplistic. The master builder was one Eli Rowe of Hearts Content, a young man in his teens who possessed great talent in the building trade. Mr. Rowe was the master builder of a very large church in Hearts Content in 1880 and The master builder of the existing Church in Spaniards' Bay that was built in 1891.
A flag was used initially as a means of alerting the congregation that a service was soon to take place; however this in turn was replaced by a church bell purchased in 1902 for the sum of $44.00. It was only in use for a very few years and was passed along to another church in the mission. As a matter of fact there must have been some dissatisfaction with the bell as the rector at the time, Rev. E.K.H. Caldwell wrote the following comment in a ledger in 1905: "never have anything to do with iron bells. Warning."
Heating in the early days was provided by one wood stove located in the West end of the church. It was the sextons duty to make sure the building was as comfortable as possible; this at times proved to be difficult because anytime there were heavy winds the church would fill up with smoke. Later two oil stoves were installed in the west and east ends of the church and shared a common chimney; this was a big improvement on a system that had previously been an annoyance.
Records show that the ladies were active in 1902 raising funds for the interior of thr church. They continued to work and provide funds for repairs, improvements etc. by having socials and "times" which was the only bit of entertainment in those days. This group Is now called the ACW as it is known throughout the entire province; formerly called All Saints' Sewing Class, All Saints' Guild, AWA, ACWA respectively.
In 1955 the CEAA was formed during the incumbency of Rev. W.E.R. Cracknell who to date holds the record for being the longest appointed priest in the history of the parish- 30 years from 1927 to 1958. This association functioned for four years and during that time was very active. The most notable project the CEAA spearheaded was the purchase of a new church bell from the John Taylor Bell Foundry, England in 1956. The CEAA also constructed the freestanding tower to house it; this bell remains at the church today. When the Church of England became the Anglican Church of Canada in 1959 the CEAA Dissolved.
In 1959 the Congregation and Rector, Rev. E.B. Cheeseman decided that the old church was nearing the end of its service and with that fundraising started. Work commenced in May 1962 with the foreman of the project being Harry Newhook; the cornerstone was laid by Bishop Meaden on June 10th, 1962. The new building was completed and the first service held on July 19th, 1964; The old All Saints' which had served the community for 86 years was deconsecrated by Bishop J. A. Meaden on the same day. The new building, which has a seating capacity of 220, measures 33 feet wide by 88 feet long, is a wooden structure. Its interior, simple and modern yet beautiful in design. All Saints' has been noted for having a warm atmosphere which is due to the use of light wood furnishings. In 1980 The basement of the church was completed as a hall with washroom, storage and kitchen facilities. In 1992 major exterior renovations on the church were carried out including the Installation of new windows and vinyl siding;Further renovations were carried out 2008.
All Saints' remains to this day an active church within the community after 130 years of ceaseless operation.