Tangier Parish 150th: "Movers and Shakers"

By Bernice Logan

[Editor’s Note: In response to Bernice Logan’s June article about the Anglian Churches contributions to community life in Tangier Parish, our careful readers asked for more information about several prominent clergy she inadvertently omitted, which Ms. Logan has graciously provided below. The 150th anniversary celebration is scheduled for July 30-31.]

The very first Rector of Tangier Parish was Father James Richie (1876). He was a poet and a scholar but also had the practical side of getting things done. He is responsible for building the St. James Church in Spry Bay. He wrote a book of Poems to help finance that goal. (If any parishioner has a copy of his book, the Celebration Committee would welcome making it available for viewing during our celebration.)

The Reverend Thomas Turner came to the Parish in 1932. He was a jovial priest from Newfoundland, as were many of the Anglican clergy on the Eastern Shore. Reverend Turner was remembered for his unique approach to raising money for the parish. He organized stage plays that were performed by Parishioners. The money was badly needed, and those who performed still remember their seven months of fame. I received several reprimands for my memory lapse from the Theater Aficionados.

The present Rectory was built during the Reverend Ernest Nelson's time. He married a girl from the parish, Marjorie Mason, and their daughter was born in the Rectory. That little girl, Irene Nelson, now 85 years old, likes to tell the story her mother told her. The Rector’s wife and Mrs. Borgal of Spry Bay were both expecting babies. The doctor went to Mrs. Borgal first, and by the time he got to Tangier, the Rector had delivered his own baby. Sadly, Reverend Nelson died of cancer shortly after Irene was born.

The fourth clergyman I left out was the "Tangier Terror", Canon G.S. Tanton, or "Father Staff" as he was affectionately known. It was during his ministry that St. Michaels Church in Sheet Harbour was built. He worked diligently to get the Eastern Shore Memorial Hospital built in Sheet Harbour. It was said that as he drove to his morning services he blew his horn as he passed the homes of his Altar Boys, to make sure they were on their way to Church too. Canon Tanton was also involved in getting a High School built in Tangier (now the Elementary School).

He also masterminded and built the Deanery Center in Ship Harbour as a children's summer camping facility. After decades of use, the church finally closed the facility, but Kim Thompson, another visionary, stepped in and founded the Deanery Project in 2011, which has repurposed the camp focusing on the environment, youth, community, and building in harmony with nature. So Canon Tanton's vision and dream will live on in perpetuity.

 In 1967 the University of King's College conferred an honorary Doctorate of Divinity on Canon Tanton. After 14 years of pioneering service on the Eastern Shore, "Father Staff" moved on to St. Mark's Church in Halifax.

The fifth Rector of Tangier was the Reverend Alex Shepherd. He was another jovial, dedicated Priest from Newfoundland. From Tangier he moved to the South Shore, where he took part in the weekly radio program called "Morning Devotions".

Kevin Franklyn was the last Rector before the current Rector, Lorraine Otto. He was young, and came to Tangier with his wife Melissa (also a priest), directly from Divinity School. He is now in Manitoba. He was an "old soul" in philosophy and practice. In his traditional frock coat, he would have fit into Tangier 150 years ago. 

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