A Brief History of St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church, Prince Albert, Saskatchewan

compiled by Jean Cockburn

Reverend James Nisbet was born in Scotland in 1823 and emigrated with his family to the New World in 1844. He graduated as a minister from Knox College (Toronto) and in 1866 led a party of pioneers from the Red River colony (Winnipeg) to this area to found a Mission. They arrived on July 26, 1866 and began the work of bringing Christianity to the indigenous people. Nisbet named the settlement Prince Albert, after British royalty.

With his carpenter skills and medical knowledge, James Nisbet did more than preach and teach. He personally helped build the first church, a log structure, which now sits in Kinsmen Park. During a smallpox epidemic, he devised a crude method of vaccination which saved hundreds of lives. They also planted crops and gardens which helped feed the population during several lean years.

Reverend Nisbet was assisted in his work by pioneers John McKay and George Flett. They later became ordained and continued as missionaries for the rest of their lives.

James Nisbet laboured faithfully at Prince Albert for eight years. Ill health forced him and his wife to return east (Kildonan), where both died in 1874.

The Prince Albert Mission became a congregation on July 1st, 1883 by authority of the Presbytery of Brandon.

The present building was constructed in 1906. The contractor was Mr. William James Wright, the great uncle of  Jean Cockburn. Originally there was a manse next door, where the Gabriel Dumont Institute now stands. The balcony was added in approximately 1925, and the two manual Casavant pipe organ was installed in 1930.