Early ministers did not have the advantage of staying long in one place.   They were required to move on to new pastorates at least every three years. Thomas Allen (1841-1936) was a Methodist minister stationed in Petitcodiac from 1870-1873 with a grand total of 12 preaching places. During his time at Petitcodiac, he kept a diary that allows us to see something of what Methodist ministry was like in 1870. Here are some excerpts from his diary:

July 27:  Drove up with my new horse to Mechanic’s Settlement to preach a funeral sermon Ephes. V. 13, 14.  Married a couple at night in Petitcodiac.

July 31:   A rough journey this has been. Went up to Elgin Corner last night & lay (as I had little sleep in consequence of very disagreeable company in the bed) there. Started in morning for Donegal, travelled over 12 miles of extremely rough and hilly road. Preached from Heb XI. 24-26. Had to start back without dinner, Elgin, afternoon 1 Cor. V. 7. Started directly after service & travelled seven miles farther to Pleasant Vale preached there as there was no time for tea until after service when I was both very tired and very hungry, Heb. XI. 24-26. Reached home next day safe & sound. Praise the Lord! Wife well. Lord make us both thankful.

August 2: This day I conclude my 29th year. How thankful I ought to be for the Lord sparing me so long.

November 27: Little River [McKee’s Mills]. Acts V.31. Salisbury Eph. V,. 15, 16 Petitcodiac Acts. V. 31. Went on horseback all round and found it a heavy day’s work.

The Archives has sermons handwritten by Allen.  They were not the short, 20 minute excursions into church liturgy that we know today. One of Allen’s sermons for 1906 is 22 pages of outline. Think of the length of the fleshed out complete sermon!


Written by Judith Colwell, former Maritime Conference Archivist