Welcome to St. Bridget Parish in Stanleyville, Ontario, a church that has ministered to the rural Roman Catholic community since it was founded in 1819.
The church is currently part of a “twinned parish” which includes Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Lanark. During the summer months services are held at St. Columbkill in McDonald’s Corners and St. Vincent de Paul in Dewitt’s Corners. The parish also includes St. Patrick in Ferguson’s Falls which does not have regularly scheduled Mass times. These are some of the oldest Catholic communities in Ontario and their graveyards contain a wealth of history about the early settlements.
Weekend Masses are held on Sunday at 11:00 AM. During the summer months a 5:00 PM Mass is held at St. Vincent de Paul. For complete details on weekend and daily services check our parish bulletin.
869 Stanley Road, Stanleyville, Ontario K7H 3C5
Lot 15, Concession 8, Stanleyville, North Burgess
Phone: (613) 259-2155
A glimpse from our past …
As early as 1816, Abbé Pierre-Jacques de la Mothe, who visited Catholics along the St. Lawrence River, heard of a route that would take him farther inland. He arrived at the fledgling Military Settlement at Perth in 1816, arriving in June or July, the first minister in the settlement. The French-speaking priest was given property, albeit very poor land, near what is now known as Adan’s Lake. He had been granted permission to say Mass in settler’s homes, something he would have started immediately. Reporting to Kingston, Reverend Father La Mothe regularly traveled up the Rideau and by 1819 often ended up in Narrow’s Locks holding services. Here, he found many Irish Catholic families who were without a church. He promised the families that he would return the next year. Settlement records record that the Abbé eventually attained 800 acres of land.
A missionary priest, during his absence, the families erected a log chapel by Black Lake, not too far from the present location of St. Bridget’s Church. Father la Mothe kept his promise and returned the next year to visit many more Catholic families. Following in Reverend Father la Mothe’s footsteps, Father Smith visited the area in 1823 and preached in the log chapel. Unfortunately, these priests stopped visiting the area and Catholics located in North Burgess had to trek to Perth in order to receive Mass.
The Catholic clergy in Perth did their best to serve the North Burgess community and would hold Mass in homes, which would see up to 50 people at each residence. Before Mass, the priests would perform confession and following Mass the sick were blessed and children were baptized. It was a pastor in Perth, Father McDonagh, who was instrumental in the building of St. Bridget’s Church. St. Bridget was the name of the chapel church in Perth prior to the building of St. John the Baptist.
On August 15, 1857, a building committee was formed and plans were drawn up for a church in Stanleyville. Members for the building committee were chosen and included Messrs. Michael Stanley, Michael Drennan, Thomas Donnelly, Henry McVeigh and Edward Byine. Local families provided the supplies needed to build the church. The timber used in the building was taken from the swamp of Red (Paddy Quinn), the Murphy Quarry provided the rock and Robert Allan donated the sand. The two acres of land upon which the church stands was donated by Michael Stanley.
The church was constructed with dimensions of 61 feet by 45 feet and a vestry of 15 feet by 20 feet. Bishop Horan of Kingston was the man who laid the corner stone on May 22, 1864, and he dedicated the church to “Ste. Bridgetta” (see below). Reverend TP O’Connor was appointed the first pastor of St. Bridget’s. The first Mass was held on October 28, 1864. The Bishop urged the congregation to build a residence as soon as possible. Construction first began on the home in April and was completed that same year. At the time of its opening, St. Bridget’s Parish included all of North Burgess and half of the Catholic population in Bathurst. The church still serves Mass today.
St. Brigid or St. Bridget?
Saint Brigid of Kildare or Brigid of Ireland (Irish: Naomh Bríd; Latin: Brigida; c. 451 (453) – 525) is one of Ireland’s patron saints, along with Patrick and Columba. Irish hagiography makes her an early Irish Christian nun, abbess, and foundress of several monasteries of nuns, including that of Kildare in Ireland, which was famous and was revered. Her feast day is 1 February, which was originally a pagan festival called Imbolc, marking the beginning of spring.
Saint Bridget of Sweden (1303 – 23 July 1373); born as Birgitta Birgersdotter, also Birgitta of Vadstena, or Saint Birgitta (Swedish: heliga Birgitta. Latin: Brigitta), was a mystic and saint, and founder of the Bridgettines nuns and monks after the death of her husband of twenty years. Outside of Sweden, she was also known as the Princess of Nericia and was the mother of Catherine of Vadstena. (Though normally named as Bridget of Sweden, she was not a member of Swedish royalty.) She is one of the six patron saints of Europe, together with Benedict of Nursia, Saints Cyril and Methodius, Catherine of Siena and Edith Stein. Her feast day is July 23.
The confusion comes about because of the name “Ste. Bridgetta” carved in the cornerstone of the current church. There, in rather poor Latin, is the source of the disagreement being neither “Brigida” or “Birgitta” but an interpolation of the Latin name. The original church in Perth is also appears as “St. Bridget.” throughout contemporary literature, so, this church bears the same spelling. There is little doubt however that the staunch Irish community that formed in Micaville or in Irish and Scottish settlers in the Military Settlement at Perth knew little if any of “St. Bridget of Sweden”, and knew a lot about “St. Brigid of Kildare”, including the many prayers and blessings traditionally associated with her. This is one reason why St. Brigid’s Cross can be found throughout local historical references.
St. Brigid of Ireland, Brigid also spelled Brigit (or in contemporary literature Bridget), also called Brigid of Kildare or Bride, or in Irish Bríd, was born, according to tradition in c.451 (or 453) at Fochart, near Dundalk, County Louth, Ireland, died at Kildare c.525, Ireland. Her feast day is February 1. She is recognized as a virgin and abbess of Kildare, one of the patron saints of Ireland.
Little is known of her life but from legend, myth, and folklore. According to these, she was born of a noble father and a slave mother and was sold along with her mother to a Druid, whom she later converted to Christianity. On being set free, she returned to her father, who tried to marry her to the king of Ulster. Impressed by her piety, the king removed her from parental control. According to the Liber hymnorum (11th century), the Curragh, a plain in Kildare, was granted by the king of Leinster to St. Brigid. At Kildare she founded the first nunnery in Ireland. The community became a double abbey for monks and nuns, with the abbess ranking above the abbot. Her friend St. Conleth became, at Brigid’s beckoning, bishop of her people. She is said to have been active in founding other communities of nuns.
St. Brigid appears in a wealth of literature, notably the Book of Lismore, the Breviarium Aberdonense, and Bethada Náem n-Érenn. One of the loveliest and most gently profound legends of Brigid is the story of Dara, the blind nun, for the restoration of whose sight Brigid prayed. When the miracle was granted, Dara realized that the clarity of sight blurred God in the eye of the soul, whereupon she asked Brigid to return her to the beauty of darkness. Brigid is also said to have miraculously changed water into beer for a leper colony and provided enough beer for 18 churches from a single barrel; she is sometimes considered to be one of the patron saints of beer.
Brigid’s feast day is observed as far away from Ireland as Australia and New Zealand. In early times she was celebrated in parts of Scotland and England convert.
About Stanleyville …
The former Township of North Burgess was settled by a group of Scottish and Irish immigrants and soldiers from the War of 1812-14. The first residents established homes and farms along the first stretch of cleared land, which would later become known as the Scotch Line. North Burgess was named for Rev. Thomas Burgess in 1794, an important religious leader who later became Bishop of Salisbury.
Within the former township is the historical hamlet of Stanleyville, originally called Micaville, whose first residents were Irish Catholic immigrants. It thrived on the business of the Silver Queen Mica mine, now located in Murphy’s Point Provincial Park. Before mica, lumber was an important trade and the Black Creek lumber yard was a vital part of this industry.
A thriving community, the Stanleyville School has records that date back to 1863. The original wood school burned and a new one was built in 1870. Again in 1910, the frame school burned and a new brick schoolhouse was built in 1911. For two years, 1919 to 1921, Stanleyville was a two-room schoolhouse accommodating grades nine and ten as well as the lower grades. In 1921, it reverted to a one-room schoolhouse which it remained until it closed in 1966. Children from the Donnelly, McNamee, O’Neil, Anderson, McShane, and Kerr families attended this school.