Historic French Church

L’orgue Casavant de l’église de Ste-Anne-de-PrescottA Church gives birth to a Village

The village of Ste-Anne-de-Prescott owes its existence to the French Catholic Church, which was built in 1885. It is a monument to the determination of the early settlers. It is of solid stone, seats over 400 people and is decorated with murals and statues. Built on the side of the hill, it is by far the most visible landmark and it is featured on our web site as the symbol of local pride.

[Note : the small brick United Church at the west end of the village is even older, being built in 1865, but it was built in the fields. Growth of the village was spurred by the Catholic church construction, whose work crew stimulated the establishment of a blacksmith, store, tavern and many houses.]

In the past 10 years or so, the heritage value of the church has been increasingly recognized. In 2002-03 a fundraising drive paid for the restoration of the murals and decorative painting to their original splendour. This artwork was by famous painter T.X. Renaud who did many churches in French parishes in Canada and New England.

A modern book about a historic church

To help celebrate the restoration, a committee of parishoners wrote a book on the history of the church building. It contains numerous colour photos of the artwork and the architectural features.

Entitled Une église, un monument, une merveille, it was published in 2004 and sells for $20 with funds going to future restoration work.

At the book launch, the parish received a heritage award for its efforts, the Prix du patrimoine Roger-Bernard from the Regroupement des organismes du patrimoine franco-ontarien.

The organ dates from 1897 and it also received heritage awards, on its 110th birthday in 2007. The first award is from the Canadian College of Organists. The second is from the Organ Historical Society of USA, which has only recognized 362 organs in all of North America. These were conferred on our organ, installation number 85 from the world famous house of organs, Casavant frres, because it is one of the few of that vintage in all of Canada to be have been played regularly at mass since it was installed, without being modified or electrified. (Note: there is an electrical bellows, but the original hand pumped bellows are still in place.)

Similarly, the church bell still rings at mass, it has not been replaced with recorded music as in so many churches.