On the 7th day of November, 1876, we the undersigned, John Joseph Williams, Arch Bishop of Boston, have interred in the vault of the parish Church of St. Andrews the remains of the Very Reverend George Alexander Hay, vicar general of the Diocese of Kingston & parish priest of St. Andrews who departed this life at the age of 69 years. (taken from the Death Register, St. Andrew’s Parish)
What follows is an account of the death and funeral of Father George Alexander Hay, pastor of St. Andrew's Parish, as reported the local Cornwall newspaper.
"Again the Catholic Church of the Diocese of Kingston has been called upon to mourn the loss of another of her oldest and most respected priests in the person of Father George A. Hay, parish priest of the parish of St. Andrew's."
"The Very Reverend George Alexander Hay, Vicar-General of the Diocese of Kingston was born June 7, 1807, at Glenyore, in the parish of Williamstown. His father was a Lowland Scottish Presbyterian, and his mother a Highland Scottish Catholic, who brought her children up in her own belief. At an early age he was sent to Iona College, St. Raphael's, Glengarry, under the immediate directorship of the Right Reverend Dr. Macdonell (Bishop Alexander Macdonell, later first bishop of Kingston and Upper Canada.) Having pursued his classical studies with success and graduated with distinction, he was next sent to St. Sulpice (the Grand Seminary) in Montreal, and there made his theological studies, after which he was raised to the Holy Priesthood at St. Raphael's in 1832 by Bishop Alexander Macdonell.
Father Hay's first assignment was as curate at Sandwich (now Windsor) in what is now the parish of the Assumption, to Vicar-General A. Macdonell. A little later he served at Kingston. In 1836, upon the death of Father Fraser, he was appointed by Bishop Macdonell to the parish of St. Andrew's where he has served as parish priest for forty years. Father Hay was the true type of a gentleman, genial and unpretending, ever ready to advance the interests of his people, in fact, to know him was to love him.
It was principally by his own generous gifts years ago that his people could glory in having a Convent School in their midst. Only two months ago he established a bursary of $2,000 in the College at Montreal for the benefit of Scottish students of limited means studying for the church.
Bishop Horan named him Dean and Vicar- General of the diocese and a member of the bishop's council. For some years past Father Hay has been suffering from neuralgia, yet he continued to the very end in the full excerse of his ministery. On the morning of Holy Souls Day he sang high mass and preached. It was the last work he did. That evening he complained of a pain in his spine, and a few minutes later at half-past ten he was called away to receive the rewards of his labours.
The funeral was held the next Tuesday from the rectory.
In 1884, Bishop Cleary asked Father J.J. Kelly to organize a French parish in the east end of Cornwall. The French population had been steadily increasing as many French speaking people were moving to Cornwall to work in the various textile mills of the town and surrounding area. Three years later on September 8, 1887, Bishop Cleary duly laid the corner stone. It would be left to Father Paul-Antoine DeSaunhac to oversee the actual construction of the church.
On October 2, 1892, Archbishop Cleary was invited by Bishop Alexander Macdonell to bless the new church. That same year, Masses on Christmas Day were celebrated in the unfinished structure. The first bell was installed in 1895, the Way of the Cross was erected in 1909 and the erection of the Church Arches and the Casavant organ were installed in 1914.
Some of the pioneering organizations of the parish were the League of the Sacred Heart (1890), the Children of Mary (1904) and the League of the Holy Rosary (1908). Another significant group was the Sisters of the Congregation of Notre-Dame, who had played an important role in Catholic education at St. Columban’s, and now at La Nativité.
From 1916 to 1942, Father Duncan MacDonald oversaw the parish. Le Bon Père Dunc, as he was affectionately known, was endowed with an extraordinary personality, a pious man and lover of the poor. Among other things, he oversaw the building of the sacristy, the establishment of the cemetery and the construction of the rectory. He also grew the parish to the point that two new parishes came into being in 1937: St-Félix-de-Valois and St. Francis de Sales.
The first French-Canadian pastor of the parish was Father Azellus Brunelle. He oversaw the parish from 1942 to 1960. Other pastors included Msgr Bernard Guindon, Father Aimé Leduc, Father (now Bishop) Luc Bouchard, Father René Dubé, Msgr Réjean Lebrun and Father Laurier Rivet.
In 1976, La Nativité de la Bienheureuse Vierge Marie was raised to the rank of Co-Cathedral of the Diocese.
The parish celebrated their centenary in 1987. On November 27, 1987, they hosted their banquet with the theme of honouring the clergy.
The decision was made in 1944 to construct a parish to serve the north part of Cornwall. Father H. Alzime Poirier (below) was the founding pastor of the church that would be dedicated to St. John Bosco.
On December 3, 1944, the first Mass was celebrated in the new basement church, as it was known. The parish had 673 families for a total population of 3,135. Bishop Rosario Brodeur blessed the bell for the new church on December 17, 1944. In an interesting piece of trivia, this bell is now being used by St. James in Maxville.
By 1950 plans were in the works to build a new church and the site chosen was right above the original basement church. A vote in January of 1951 approved the reconstruction. Over the next two years, fundraising and budgeting for the new building took place and in May of 1954 materials were ordered and construction began.
The parish continued to grow and soon became the mother parish of Ste-Thérèse-de-Lisieux (1955), Canadian Martyrs (1962), Christ the King (1964) and Blessed Sacrament (1965).
Sadly, St. John Bosco was officially closed on August 24, 2003due to a dwindling population.