The Park! is named in honour of Senator Charles E. Church, a Tancook Island native who served as Lunenburg County MP from 1872-1878. He also represented the area as a Nova Scotia MLA for one term, and was appointed to the Canadian Senate in 1902. He died on his 71st birthday in 1906.
By the terms of his will any residue in his estate after the passing of his widow was to be used for the purchase and creation of a park for the Village of Chester. The property was purchased in 1928 and construction of tennis courts, a club house and baseball field were completed in the fall of 1932. There were no provisions for maintenance and upkeep of the park in Senator Church’s will, and the responsibility fell to a Citizens’ Park Committee comprised of local volunteers.
Thanks to the generosity of The Pew Charitable Trusts , the Eleanor Pew Morris Memorial Rink complex, comprising an ice arena, four-sheet curling rink, clubhouse and canteen facilities, opened on the park site on February 14, 1970. Eleanor Pew Morris was one of three daughters of Joseph N. Pew Jr. and Alberta C. Pew. She pre-deceased her mother Alberta who then helped establish the rink as a memorial to her. The Park continues to receive annual financial support from The Pew Charitable Trusts, as well as from the Municipality of the District of Chester.
The Park! recreational complex marked its 72nd anniversary on June 3, 2005 with a ceremony to dedicate the restored entrance pillars and to recognise the generosity of a Chester businesswoman instrumental in the restoration.
Elaine Collicutt, who operates a local landscaping and property management company, unveiled the refurbished structures to mark the event. Ms. Collicutt contributed the materials and labour to effect the restoration of the pillars.
The ravages of time, weather and snowplows took their toll on the original entrance pillars, and Ms. Collicutt stepped forward with the offer to return them to their original splendour, using the original 1928 plans.
“Chester has been very good to me and my family,” Collicutt said, “and it’s a privilege and a pleasure to be able to give back to my community.”