Lachine, Quebec

From: "Lake St. Louis, Old and New" (Supplement)
By Desire Girouard, Montreal, 1903

St. Stephen's, the oldest Anglican Parish on Lake St. Louis, is the mother church of  St. Paul's, Upper Lachine and St. Philip's, Montreal West. It may be observed, in passing, that there are now three self-supporting parishes where ten years ago there was only one struggling congregation.

The church, erected about 1831, is a little stone building nestling in behind the huge stone convent of the Sisters of Ste.Anne, the eat wing of which completely cuts off the view from the front street.

From St. Joseph Street the church may be reached by proceeding north on St. Alphonse Street, when, on passing the end of the convent, there unexpectedly opens up to view, on the left, the quaint little church, surrounded by its “God’s Acre “, bearing a crop of tomb-stones of all shapes and sizes from the modest little slab to the pretentious red granite monument.

The oldest tomb-stone, inclosed within an iron railing at the north-west corner of the church, was erected to the memory of William McIntosh, formerly Chief Factor of the Hudson Bay Co., died 16th February, 1842, aged 60 years, Isabella Gladhue, his wife, died 11th May, 1837, aged 45 years, and their son Wm. McIntosh, died 22nd February, 1842, aged 15 years”.

A rather interesting marble slab stands to the left of the Porch at the entrance of the church in memory of a family named Peirson. As the curious wording at the end of the inscription adds somewhat to the interest, it is here given in full:

 In memory of
 Allan Peirson, aged 48 years.
 Hannah Peirson, ‘‘ 50 years
 John Peirson, ‘‘ 28 years
 Allan Peirson, ‘‘ 20 years
 Robert Peirson, “ 16 years
 Hannah Peirson, ‘‘  7 years
 Sarah Peirson, ‘‘ 15 months.
 Mary Peirson, ‘‘ 21 years.
 William Peirson, ‘‘ 13 months.
 Hannah Peirson, ‘‘ 3 years.

The above persons lost their lives by the explosion of the Steamboat Shamrock, July 9, 1842, twelve miles from Lachine on the River St. Lawrence.

Erected by their son William.

At the south-west corner of the grave-yard are the unnamed graves of the unfortunate ship-fever victims, who died, for the most part, in the temporary hospital near Stony Point in the upper part of Lachine. From July 11th to November 7th 1847, twelve persons were laid to rest in this secluded spot, (luring the incumbency of the Reverend Wm. B. Bond, now Lord Archbishop of Montreal, who dug most of the graves and buried the bodies with his own hands, a panic having seized the community while the epidemic was at its height so that no one could be got to perform the duty of undertaker or grave-digger. The records in the Parish Register reveal the absence of cerenionial and the despatch attending these burials by the words “ buried on the same day “ that the death occurred. All the victims were immigrants from Ireland except two, one of whom came from Cheshire, England, and the other from Upper Canada.

The church was originally a small square building, without chancel, furnished with a ponderous pulpit and square, high backed pews, with wooden tablets on each side of the Altar, containing the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer and the ten Command-ments. Extensive improvements were undertaken during the incumbency of the Reverend Canon Fulton, resulting in the addition of a chancel, and the alteration of the Pews to a more convenient and suitable type, so as to meet the requirements of the growing congregation by increasing the seating capacity of the church.

Beautiful stained-glass memorial windows have been presented from time to time, and there are now in the church five of these, including the chancel window, which was erected in 1889 in memory of “ Annie Gwenilyan Albutt, died Holy Cross Day 1887 “. It is a triple lancet, in the centre light of which is the figure of St. Stephen the Martyr, the Patron Saint of the church, clad in his deacon’s vestments, bearing a stone in his right hand and a palm branch in his left. Surmounting the figure is a representation of the Agnus Dei, and underneath a cross and crown. In the sinister light is an angel holding a crown in his hands and above and beneath the symbolic representations of St. Matthew and St. Luke respectively. In the dexter light is an angel with a cross in his right hand and a palm branch in his left, and above and beneath the symbolic representations of St. Mark and St. John respectively.

The windows in the nave are all dual lancets, two on each side being painted memorials, the third being filled with leaded and tinted cathedral glass, and partly hidden by the gallery which stretches across the building over the front entrance of the church.

On the south side, next the chancel is a memorial window, representing two scenes of St. Simeon entering the Temple, receiving the Holy Child Jesus into his arms and saying ‘‘ Nunc dimittis servum Tuum, Domine, secundum verbum Tuum, in pace “, “ in memory of  James Brancker Spence, who died April 28th,1876, and his wife Margaret Newton Spence, died Aug.9th, 1870.”

Opposite this on the north side of the nave is a memorial containing angels with harps, and other ecclesiastical symbols, “in affectionate remembrance of Philippa Teresa Evelyn White, wife of the Rev. R. White, Rector of this church, who died January 31st, 1883.”

Occupying the middle of the south wall is a fine piece of art glass work, representing the symbolic figures of Faith and Hope, in memory of Robert Jaffray, who died July 7th, 1876.

The latest addition is a beautiful window immediately opposite, portraying two scenes from the Parable of the Good Samaritan, erected by popular subscription to the Glory of God and in memory of Sigismund Joseph Doran, who died April 7th, 1900, for many years church warden and Lay Delegate to the Synod for this Parish. A tribute from friends.”

The oak Reredos is also a memorial presented to the church in 1900 “ in memory of 
Edward Wilgress, R. I. P., died Nov.15, 1889, aged 82”.

The earliest records of the parish have been lost, but fortunately there is a marble tablet on what was originally the chancel wall of the church bearing an inscription which the absence of other reliable information renders valuable :

“ To the memory of the Rev. B. Stevens, A. M. (whose mortal remains are deposited under the altar of this church of which he was the founder). Died at Montreal on the 13th day of May, 1834, aged 46 years. The good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.”.

When the chancel was added to the church the altar was removed to its present position in the sanctuary, and on the spot where it formerly stood is placed a brass plate on which is en-graved in beautiful lettering  - ‘‘ under this Plate rest the remains of the Rev. B. B. Stevens, A,M., died 13th May, 1834.”

Similarly, the altar vessels, of solid silver and quaint design, are of historic interest. The inscription on the Paten reads - Presented to The Rev. B. B. Stevens, A. M., Founder and First Pastor of this church, by his friend Captn Pritchard, 52nd Regt. Parvum munus quidem, sed magnum testatur amorem.”

On the curiously shaped Chalice is engraved ‘‘ Presented by John S. McCord to the Reverend B. B. Stevens, A.M., First Minister and Founder of this church, in token of a long and affectionate friendship, 1st January, 1832.”

Mr. Stevens was succeeded in 1834 by the Rev.T. B. Fuller, who alter three years was followed by the Rev. D. Robertson, military chaplain, in the memorable year 1837.

In 1842, the Rev. Wm. B. Bond, now Lord Archbishop of Montreal, already referred to in this sketch, took charge of the parish for six years, to be succeeded by the Rev. John Cornwall in 1848.

In 1854, the name of Rev. J. Flanagan appears on the books. During his incumbency and through his efforts the Rectory, a large stone house on the banks of the St. Lawrence, distant about ten minutes from the church, was erected. Alter the construction of the Lachine Canal, the proximity of the Rectory to the Locks, with other reasons, rendered the place less suitable for a dwelling. After being in the possession of the church for nearly fifty years, the property has just been sold and the congregation are taking steps to build a new Rectory nearer the church, on St. Joseph Street, a short distance east of the convent.

When about ten years had elapsed, Mr. Flanagan was succeeded by the late Venerable Archdeacon Leach, who, for some years held the position of  Rector of Lachine, though living in Montreal and performing the duties of the Archdeaconate, the work in Lachine being carried on mainly by the assistance of curates.

The Rev. Wm. Wright, M. D., who is now an assistant priest at the church of  St. John the Evangelist, Montreal, occupied the position of  Rector of Lachine for the years 1871 and 1872. He was followed by the late Rev. R. Phelps in 1873, who, after a short time was succeeded by the Rev. R. White, 1874. to 1881.

The late Rev. Canon Fulton became Rector of  Lachine in 1881. It was during his time that the alterations in the church building were carried out to which reference has already been made.
He was succeeded in 1884 by the Rev. Walter Windsor, now Rector of St. Johns, Que., who remained but for a few months, having, with the approval of the Ordinary, exchanged parishes with the Rev. R. L. MacFarlane, B. A.

Mr. Mac Farlane was succeeded by the Rev. H. J. Winterbourne, in 1887, who left, in 1889, to accept the position of curate in the Cathedral, Toronto, Ont. While Mr. Winterhourne was Rector, land was procured on the corner of St. Joseph and Arthur Streets, on which was built a commodious Hall at a cost of about $3,000. Previous to the arrival of Mr.Winterhourne the sum of $1,500 had been spent on the Rectory in order to make it habitable. The house was converted into two dwellings, the Rector occupying one and the rent of the other paying the interest of the debt incurred to effect the alteration.

At Easter, 1890, the Rev. R. Hewton, M. A., accepted the Rectorship of Lachine. He began his duties with a mortgage debt of $3, 500 on the parish, besides a floating debt of $200. But the town had now entered upon an era of progress. Factories of various kinds started up, the Bell Telephone system was introduced, water works and Electric Light Plants were installed, later on the Drainage and Street Railway Systems were completed, new streets were laid out, new buildings erected, and the population rapidly increased. All these improvements were attended with general prosperity in which the church in some degree shared. To what extent this is true may be determined by the fact that when Mr. Hewton took charge of the parish in 1890, there were just 70 families connected with the church, when he left in 1897, there remained for his successor 113 families in a greatly reduced area, two new parishes having been severed from the mother church. In addition, the debt was reduced by about $2,000. 

In 1891, the congregation worshipping in St. Stephen’s began to feel cramped for room. This pressure was relieved by the formation of a new parish at Montreal West. But only for a time. Before long the same question again forced itself on the congregation. Every thing was done to increase the seating capacity of the building, but to no purose. It could not hold the worshippers. Accordingly at the annual Vestry Meeting in 1897 it was decided to again divide the Parish, and the new Parish of St. Paul’s church was formed with Rev. R. Hewton as first Rector.

He was succeeded at St. Stephen’s by the Rev. H. E. Wright, M.A., who carried on the work for five years. During his regime, the congregation continued to increase and the debt was reduced by about $1,000. After about three years, additional manufactories were established at the lower end of  Lachine which brought an increase of population. It is only a question of time when the St. Stephen’s people shall once more have to face the old problem of seating the congregatiun, either by enlarging the church, or by disposing of the present building, which for many reasons would be a pity, and building anew on another site.

In the mean time Mr. Wright left the pansh to take up work in the Diocese of Quebec at Easter 1902, and was succeeded by the present Rector, the Rev. Canon W. Percy Chambers, B. A., B.D., who is carrying on the work with energy and zeal, with what results remains to lie seen. At the present moment the attention of the congregation is fully occupied in making preparations for the construction of a new Rectory.

Several pages of the Parish Register present interesting features. The first to be noted is the entry describing the burial of  Robert Hardisty who died 13th October, 1865, aged 75.  This is signed ‘‘Edward Sullivan “ who was afterwards the eloquent Bishop of Algonia, since deceased.

On the same page is the record of the burial of  Lt. Col. Edward P. Wilgress, who died April 18, 1866, aged 85. The act is signed by the late Bishop Fulford, first Anglican Bishop of Montreal.

Further on bearing tile date 25th May, 1871, is the first entry signed by "A. Montreal ", which was the signature of the late Bishop Oxenden, second Bishop of the Diocese. His name appears frequently after this as he had a summer residence on the Lower Lachine Road, and the place is still called ‘‘Oxenden Villa.’’

Birth, marriage and death records for St. Stephen's Anglican church in Lachine are available through the following sources:
1831-1833 missing missing missing
1834 ??? ??? Anglican Archives
1835-1841 M 336/20 2021640 Anglican Archives
1842-1843 missing missing Anglican Archives??
1844-1847 M 336/20 2021640 Anglican Archives
1848-1849 missing missing Anglican Archives??
1850 M 336/20 2021640 Anglican Archives
1851 missing missing Anglican Archives??
1852-1853 M 336/20 2021640 Anglican Archives
1854 missing missing Anglican Archives??
1855-1864 M 336/20 2021640 Anglican Archives
1865-1866 missing missing Anglican Archives??
1867-1872 M 336/20 2021640 Anglican Archives
1873-1874 missing missing Anglican Archives??
1875 M 336/20 2021640 Anglican Archives
1876 missing missing Anglican Archives??
1877-1892 M 336/20 2021640 Anglican Archives
1893-1899 M 336/21 2021917 Anglican Archives
1900-1993 none none Anglican Archives
1993-2001 none none contact church
Return to Montreal Protestant Churches
Back to the homepage
Questions, Comments or Suggestions?
Patty Brown
coordinator of the MontréalGenWeb