The Acadians from Port Royal district began to settle in the fertile Minas district around the Minas Basin about 1680. They proved to be successful and resourceful armers as is evidenced by the dyking system for reclaiming hay lands that is still in use today.
In the year 1689, the large district of Minas was, for Church purposes, divided into two parishes, St. Charles Parish at Grand Pre and St. Joseph's Parish at Riviere Aux Canard. This began the parish of St. Josephs which extended from the "Grand Habitat", now the Cornwallis River to Pereau.
The first St. Joseph's Church was built in 1688-89 in the area we now know as Chipman Corner. It was situated on the north-east corner of the crossroads where there is now a cemetery of the Congregational and Presbyterian Meeting House that was built in 1767-68. The church was a wooden structure with a graceful steeple and a bell. The interior was finished in carved oak. In the journal of Colonel Winslowe, whose duty it was to carry out the expulsion of the Acadians, he describes the structure as a "beautiful church".
The parish was served by priests from St. Charles Parish except for the yard from 1740-1749, when there was a resident priest M. de Minimac, a Sulapician, (according to Mr. R.D. LeBlanc, librarian, University of Moncton).
At the time of their expulsion there were about 180 families in the Parish. The Church was burned in 1755 serving almost three generations of Catholics.
There is a monument in memory of the Acadian Church of St. Joseph, 1689-1755 and the congregational Church, 1768-1874, positioned just inside the left of the entrance of the cemetery at Chipman COrner.
While digging a cellar for a new barn about two miles east of the cemetery, William Jacques unearthed a set of Communion vessels wrapped in birch bark and moss. After having them authenticated as of French origin he donated them to the Grand Pre National Park. There is a good possibility that these vessels were from St. Joseph's Church at Chipman Corner.
There was a period when there were very few Catholics in the area, if any. Then came the Irish settlers. Many were from the British Military who, having completed their tour of duty, were given grants on the North and South mountains and the "Great Potato Famine" in Ireland in 1845-1849 brought more settlers to the area.
A deed, dated November 12, 1839, found in the office record in Kentville reads, "From Roland Morton and his wife, Joanne, to Thomas Quigley, John Tobin, John Doyle and Edward Redmond, for Roman Catholic Church, one acre for church, cemetery and residence for parish priest". There is now evidence that a Chapel was built on this land soon after, for a steel engraving from that time show a church that can be none other than the church removed in 1892. Although the church as framed in the 1840's, it appears that it was not completed until 1853 as Archbishop William Walsh blessed the building on December 10th of that year. An extract from the Bazaar Settlement of the Kentville Advertised of September 1907, gives the following description, "The first Catholic Church erected in Kentville, was a plain wooden Building, rather modest in appearance and capable of seating 150 persons".
The first resident priest was Father O'Conner from 1853 to 1857 and from 1859 to 1961. A number of priest followed him but their stay was of short duration. On the 15th, July 1865, the Rev. Philip M. Holden was appointed to the Parish and remained until his death, 43 years later. It was during the long pastorate of Father Holden that the present church was built. From the "New Star" published at Kentville on Friday, July 15th, 1892, "St. Joseph's Chapel is no more, work was commenced las Wednesday at tearing the building down and now the old structure is completely raised. Work on the new building down will be commenced at once and it will be pushed to completion". Also a note in the Baptismas Register states, "1892 commenced the great work of building St. Joseph's Church at Kentville.