One year ago today, June 2, 2014, the decree suppressing the parish of St. Alexander came into effect. After 163 years an important chapter in our diocesan history came to a close.
In 1851, the bishop of Kingston granted the request of the people of Lochiel for a resident pastor, specifically Father Alexander Macdonell (neither the first bishop of Upper Canada nor the first bishop of Alexandria, rather this is a third Alexander Macdonell.) At that time, the parish took in Lochiel, Glen Robertson, Maxville, Dalkeith and Greenfield and included 280 families.
In 1863, the parishioners welcomed another Father Alexander Macdonell. This native son would remain as the pastor of St. Alexander’s for 16 years until he was transferred to St. Finnan’s. A decade later, he would become the first bishop of the newly created Diocese of Alexandria.
Another priest of note who served this parish was Reverend Ewen J. Macdonald (1920 - 1928). Father Ewen, as he was affectionately known, was interested in both the spiritual and social welfare of his flock and so began to host an annual picnic.
In 1932, Father Corbet MacRae was named pastor. He oversaw some major renovations to the church and cemetery. He held bees to dig out a full basement under the church. All this work was done with volunteer labour!
In 1947, St. Alexander’s welcomed the “Pastor of Glengarry”, Father C.F. Gauthier. He was an accomplished hockey and lacrosse player who loved children. He often organized sporting events to create a sense of community.
Five of our current priests, Father Bernard Cameron, Father Raymond Dumoulin, Msgr Donald McDougald, Father Éric Robichaud and Father Cyriaque Balla also served as pastors of St. Alexander’s.
June 8, 2012 - Shortly after 4 pm on June 8, 2012, a powerful storm cell passed through Nativité Cemetery.
The result was evident in these photographs taken shortly after the skies cleared. The eighty year old trees were snapped and uprooted in less than ten seconds. Amazingly, no graves were unearthed and the top notch cemetery crew had things back to normal within two weeks.
In 1829, the decision was made to build a church in Cornwall (up to that point Catholics living in Cornwall generally had to travel to the churches in either St. Andrews West or St. Regis to attend Mass.) The first church was a modestly small building. The first resident priest was Father James Bennett (right) who arrived in 1834.
The bell from this first church, which was blessed by Fr. George Hay (left) on March 24, 1844, can be seen today encased in front of the current church.
By 1864, the congregation was growing, so a second larger church was built.
A third still larger church was begun in 1894. In August of that year, Bishop Alexander Macdonell set the corner stone for the third church. Two years later, on June 15, 1896 Bishop Macdonell helped open the church. The cost to build this third church was $47,500. While this church is located at the corner of Augustus and Fourth, the first two churches were actually located to the east of the original cemetery which is marked with the large white Calvary scene as seen in the photo below.