The Early History of the Church – The Canadian Missionaries

In The Beginning

It all came about in this manner. Rev. John Morton pioneer missionary was duly inducted to the ‘charge of the Iere Village congregation, January 29th, 1868, by the Presbytery of Trinidad of which he had become a member.’ (Morton of Trinidad, S.E. Morton, p. 40). We learn that on June 5th, 1868 that the missionary “went to examine the old theatre in Cipero Street …… it would make a good building for work among the Creoles and Indians” (S.E.M. p. 73). However, it appears that not very much was accomplished there at the
time.

On July 2nd, 1868 the Foreign Mission Board of the Presbyterian Church in Canada advertised for a Second Missionary and in response “Rev. Kenneth J. Grant cheerfully devoted himself to the work” (S.E. Morton p. 75).

It was November 22nd, 1870 that Rev. Grant, Mrs. Grant, and young son Geddes arrived in San Fernando to commence a Ministry that would only come to an end in Trinidad in 1907 when the Grant family retired to Canada.

Because there was no Minister at the Scotch Presbyterian Church on High Street, San Fernando, Rev. Grant was appointed as Interim Minister but his work with the Canadian Mission continued nonetheless and with time also to learn the Hindi language. Evangelism and Education, for the missionaries, went hand in hand as Morton had demonstrated in his field of work at Iere Village and surrounding villages.

Early Developments

Three months after his arrival in Trinidad Rev. Grant saw the first Government aided CM School to become a reality. This school “was opened on February 20th, 1871 in the old theatre … at the extreme end of Cipero…” the very building that Morton had initially examined on June 5th, 1868. With the establishment of the school at Cipero Street, Rev. Grant recalls that the Susamachar congregation “… had its origin in the first school established in the district early in 1871” (K.J. Grant MR MISSIONARY MEMORIES. P. 97).

In an 8 page booklet issued on the occasion of the 125 th Anniversary of the opening and dedication of the first Church building the initial entry – re HISTORICAL HIGHLIGHTS states:-

  1. February 20th, 1871 - Susamachar Presbyterian Church founded by Rev. Dr. K.J. Grant as part of the
    first Sabbath school and church in a building known as ‘Old Theatre’ on Cipero Street, San Fernando.

Rev. Dr. Grant recalls in his autobiography MY MISSIONARY MEMORIES (pg. 97) the manner in which funds were raised for a church building. Within eighteen months of the founding of the congregation the first church building as a ‘fait accompli’ dedicated on July 7th, 1871 at Carib Street, San Fernando.