The foundation of church life in Middleton was laid by settlers who cleared the land and began a community in the eighteenth century. After the American Revolution, interest increased rapidly as loyalists ejected from the thirteen colonies to the south, began to arrive. From records of the time, it appears that church life was very disordered or nonexistent, although the desire was there for a formal connection with the church.
In 1782, the Rev. John Wiswall (1) (2), a loyalist forced to leave the newly formed United States, was sent as the missionary to district Cornwallis, Horton, and Wilmot, an area comprising a large part of the Annapolis Valley, from Wolfville right through to Bridgetown. In 1788, Wiswall’s immense parish was divided, and in 1789 he became Rector of the newly-created Parish of Wilmot – a name which it retains to this day. At this point the decision was made to build a church. Bishop Inglis, who was consecrated the first Bishop of Nova Scotia (which then included all of British North America) stated that a certain piece of land in lower Middleton, belonging to Mr. Chesley, was a suitable site for a church. Work on the new church was underway by the fall of 1789 with the help of Major Samuel Bayard and Captain Timothy Ruggles, both of Wilmot. The first service was held 14th August 1791, and the church was consecrated the same year.
Much of the construction, it is said, was carried out by the Rector himself. Indeed, so occupied was he with these tasks that Bishop Inglis rebuked him for neglecting his pastoral duties. By the time the church was completed, in 1797, Wiswall was well into his sixties. He died in 1812, at the age of 81, and was laid to rest beside the church he had labored so diligently to raise in the wilderness.
A detailed history of the beginning of the town of Middleton can be found in the book “Middleton 1909 – 1984” compiled by J. Furber Marshall on the 75th anniversary of the town’s founding.