Ruins of Saint-Raphael  – Williamstown – Ontari

19998 County Rd 18, Williamstown, ON K0C 2J0

Today’s visitors to this site do not arrive by chance, but rather because they want to. Indeed, there is little to see around South Glengarry. But surprisingly, a very large church was there as early as 1821 and contrary to a recurring trend, it is not in front of a body of water but in the middle of agricultural fields.

Yet it is here that the beginning of Catholicism in Upper Canada took place. After the War of Independence, those who fought for England received a lot of land in exchange for their service. A place of worship was then required to meet the demand of the new inhabitants who were now in the Ontario province. The priest, Alexander MacDonell, was assigned to this parish in 1804. He had this church built in 1815, which had no pillars or nails. Its size is impressive. MacDonell became the Catholic bishop of Upper Canada and this church then converted the administrative seat of the first bishop.

In 1970, an electrical problem would be the cause of a devastating fire that destroyed the church. Only its exterior walls were spared and the tower collapsed. The power of the fire melted part of the bell that can still be seen on the site.

Instead of demolishing the remains, it was preserved. The ruins are very well maintained and provide a perfect setting for event photos.

Although a new, more modern church is attached to it, it is rather discreet in the background, which leaves all the charm of the time still alive.

Be aware that you are approximately 35 minutes from the Long Sault Parkway, should you wish to combine this tour with another in the area.

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