From the long weekend in May through to the Thanksgiving weekend in October the Saturday evening Mass at Sacred Heart in Lanark is held in two historic churches while Masses on Sunday remain the same.
Saturday Evening Mass: St. Columbkill, McDonald’s Corners at 5:00 PM
Saturday Evening Mass: St. Vincent de Paul, Dewitts Corners at 5:00 PM
Sunday Morning Mass: Sacred Heart, Lanark at 9:00 AM
Sunday Morning Mass: St. Bridget, Stanleyville at 11:00 AM
St. Columbkill, McDonald’s Corners
Saturday at 5:00 PM
Prior to the construction of St. Columbkill’s church the priests from Westport and Bedford took turns looking after the pastoral needs of the Catholics in the western and northwestern portions of their parishes. Travel was difficult, being mainly on foot, horseback, carriage or cutter in the winter. With the advent of the K&P railway in the early 1880’s priests were able to take the train to Snow Road and points north. Oral history indicates that the custom then was for the priest to travel with the mailman to Mcdonalds Corners where he would stay at the home of Charles Garreau, celebrating Mass there and in the Legary home to the west of the village.
Records reveal that the land for St. Columbkill’s church and cemetery was purchased from William Locke in 1876 for the sum of $25. Construction of the church began early in the summer of 1893. Oral history indicates that the pastor and parishioners were joined by Catholics from neighboring parishes and members of local Protestant denominations in a series of day-long construction bees with men donating their time, skills and resources while the ladies served nourishing meals of beans, boiled meat, potatoes and pies. Construction was completed October 18, 1893. The first wedding in the church was held later that year.
Established in 1893 as a mission church of St. Mary’s, Carleton Place, St. Columbkill became a mission church of Sacred Heart, Lanark when that parish was established in 1907. St. Columbkill (also known as St. Columba) was born of royal lineage in Ireland but eschewed the regal life and became a monk, founding several monasteries in Ireland. He also founded the famous monastery at Iona in Scotland and played a major role in the introduction of Christianity to Scotland.
The church is located at: 4992 Watson’s Corners Rd, McDonald’s Corners, ON K0G 1K0
St. Vincent de Paul, Dewitt’s Corners
Saturday at 5:00 PM
Dewitt’s Corners, located at the crossroads of Christie Lake Road at Menzies Munro Side Road and Cameron Side Road, is well known for its farming. The hamlet signs depict hay cutting, which continues to this day but what few historical records can be found also refer to a large sawmill operating there. One family genealogy notes, “Around 1800, John Kerr left Scotland and moved to Germany. He met and married Christine DeWitt. Her father was a blacksmith. They moved to Canada and set up shop in an area now known as “DeWitt’s Corners” in Bathurst Township [now Tay Valley Township] near the town of Perth in Lanark County, Ontario Canada. They had one son, Francis Edward. Christine died giving birth. John left Francis with Jack and Mary Irvin. (Their mother was Christine DeWitt’s sister.) He moved to Owen Sound.”
An obituary from the Perth Courier for Mrs. Edward Lee (nee: Mary Kunder, 1822-1901), contains a note that for sixty-nine years services were held in her home prior to the building of the current church. She is interred in St. John the Baptist Cemetery in Perth (Plot #3, Lot #2).
It is clear that other DeWitt families (sometimes spelled as “Duit” or “DeWit” in the hand-written records. When it appears in early news print, and on the deed’s signature, it is always “DeWitt” with an uppercase “W”) moved to the area because records of baptisms and marriages are found in the early registers of the Catholic church in Perth: “Zepiniah DUIT, of this mission, son of Garrot DUIT and Pheeby NOTORN, to Sophia McKINZIE, daughter of Roderick McKINZIE and Sally McGRAHER. 16 Sept. 1823, by banns. Wit. John McKINZIE, Donald McGILLIS and several others.” Baptismal records of the next year record, “7 Aug. 1824, Phibia, born Bathurst, 14th of last month, child of Zehphinia DEWIT and Sophia McKINZIE. Sponsors John CLARK and Christina McKINZIE.”
The original deed by which John DeWitt and his wife, Mary, transferred the property for the building of the current church on July 29, 1883 can viewed by clicking on the thumbnail of the deed. John Dewitt’s obituary, printed in the September 23. 1904 edition of the Perth Courier, can be read by clicking here. Additional history and a more detailed obituary, has been transcribed and is available by clicking here although the original print document referred to has not been located. A pamphlet from 1980, most likely produced by the late Fr. C. Clemens, is also available online.
The Perth Courier (Feb. 25, 1898) contains this article, “DeWitt’s Corners on Feb. 18 at St. Vincent de Paul Church, was the scene of a very interesting event when one of our most popular young ladies, Lizzie Murphy, only daughter of Mrs. John Murphy was united in the holy bonds of matrimony to Thomas Farrell, a much respected and well to do farmer of the Scotch Line, Rev. T.P. O’Connor officiating. The bride looked charming dressed in an elegant suit of silk boucle trimmed with white crinkled silk and ribbons with a fawn jacket and hat to match. She was assisted by Miss Sophia DeWitt, and W. J. Farrell of Perth was groomsman. After the ceremony the bridal party drove to the residence of the bride where a sumptuous dinner was waiting for them. Only the immediate friends of the bride and groom were present. Among the many presents was a handsome gold watch, the gift of the groom.”
The church is located at: 2025 Christie Lake Road , Perth, ON, K7H 3C6, Lot 11, Concession 2, Dewitt’s Corners, Bathurst Township.
St. Patrick, Ferguson’s Falls
No regularly scheduled Mass
In 1856 the current St. Patrick’s church was erected in Ferguson’s Falls on land donated by the Quinn family. It is one of the oldest Catholic missions in Ontario, dating back to 1823, and two of its own members joined the priesthood: Father Michael Stafford, son of pioneer Tobias Stafford and Elizabeth McGarry entered the priesthood in 1858. Also Reverend Edmund Quinn, son of John Quinn and Anna Byrnes entered the priesthood in 1947.
Before St. Patrick’s was built, the local Roman Catholics had to travel to St. John’s Church in Perth which was a long, difficult journey by horse and buggy, particularly in the long, harsh winter months. Many of the early Roman Catholic pioneers are buried in this cemetery: the Staffords, the Richards, the Quinns, the McGarrys, McKittricks, Blairs, Carberrys, Kehoes, McCaffreys to name a few.
The old church is set in a beautiful location not far from the mighty Mississippi and is a lovely spot to visit and to reflect on a warm sunny day like yesterday. Take time to remember those who came before us and stood on these very grounds and had their baptisms, weddings and funerals at this small church. It is well worth a visit for anyone with local connections to spend some time at this sacred spot in Ferguson’s Falls.
The church is located at: 1259 Ferguson Falls Road, Ferguson’s Falls, ON