St. John’s Anglican Church, Kildare Township, Joliette County, Quebec
Register A has events from 1843 and was published, in error by Drouin, as taking place in 1853. It is for the Protestant Episcopal Congregation, Rawdon and Kilkenny Townships, Lower Canada. Kildare is not mentioned in frontispiece but there are events for Kildare. The events are also in the Christ Church, Rawdon register. Apparently, the minister, Mr. Bourne, at first intended to keep separate registers for Kildare and Rawdon but gave up and from 1844 – 1861 kept both parishes in the Rawdon register.
Register B covers 1862 -1865 & 1868 -1906: St John’s Church, Township of Kildare, District of Joliette.
Register C is for 1866 and is principally St. John’s Kildare, the frontispiece states it is for the Missions of Kilkenny and New Glasgow of the Church of England, District of Joliette but includes Kildare. These missions were townships west of Rawdon and in Terrebonne County.
The Kildare registers include the Parish of All Saints Anglican Church (known as All Saints de Ramsay) at St-Félix de Ramsay which is also known as St-Félix-de Valois and was often referred to as “de Ramsay”. This church still exists and is the responsibility of the incumbent at Rawdon. Earlier and later events for All Saints are in the Christ Church registers.
It appears that there may have been an Anglican church at St-Gabriel de Brandon. The Kildare registers clearly state there was a cemetery (burial ground) in that community. I am not sure if there was a church building.
Small communities of English Protestant families, many descendants of American settlers, existed in the area as far east as Berthier County where there was the Anglican Church of St, James at Berthierville and records remain for an Anglican church at Louiseville. The Kildare registers include some of these families. The registers also have a number of French Protestants who were converted to Protestantism through the efforts of evangelists from France and Switzerland who settled in Joliette and Berthier Counties. Some like the Rondeaus were Anglican others belonged to the Eglise Evangelique at Joliette and Pointe-aux-Trembles which had Congregational and Presbyterian connections
The website for Christ Church, Rawdon has images of the churches at Kildare and de Ramsay and some history of the churches.
Can be viewed in either PDF or XLS format.
Explanation of Abbreviations
◆ = no information given in the register
? = Name is illegible and we have not recognized the event as for someone known to be of one of the aforementioned parishes.
( ) place or family name assumed by Daniel Parkinson, was not specifically mentioned in the register, but the family were known to be long time residents or found in census documents
[ ] enclosed name added by Daniel Parkinson from other sources.
jr. = junior; sr. = senior
From Misson to Church
The Anglican Church at Kildare has a long and varied history. Members of the Church of England and Ireland and other denominations in the Township of Kildare were part of the mission of J. E. Burton which began in 1821. One may read more about him and Christ Church, Rawdon in Up To Rawdon, Part One and Part Two.
In 1841, the residents of Kildare acquired three acres on which to build a church and maintain a burial ground. St. John’s Church was built in 1842 and consecrated with its cemetery in 1849. It is thought, but not verified, that the land was donated by the Dixon family originally from Killerrig and Barragh in County Carlow and who lived near the church site. The family was prominent in the life of St. John’s. James Henry Dixon, a son of John Dixon of Kildare and Margaret Smiley of Rawdon was born at Kildare, June 20, 1842, and baptized on September 18 either at Christ Church or at the family home in Kildare. He was educated at Bishop’s College Grammar School was made a deacon and then a priest in 1870 and 1871. He was made an Honorary Canon of Christ Church Cathedral, Montreal, probably for his work at St. Jude’s — “built by him at a cost of $48,500, seating capacity 850”. It was attended by many former residents of Rawdon and Kildare. He “did a great amount of good amongst the various Institutions of the city and was ever ready to give a helping hand to every charitable undertaking” (History of the Diocese of Montreal, 1850-1910 by J. Douglas Borthwick, pages 164-165). Canon Dixon died August 8, 1916 at Morin Heights.
In 1858, St. John’s received a glebe of 100 acres and a parsonage was built. Sixty per cent of this glebe was sold in 1864 to create an endowment and the remaining portion (less the parsonage property) was sold in 1901. In 1862, Kildare congregation was removed from the Parish of Rawdon and with St. John’s as its centre formed the new parish of Kildare-de Ramsay.
By 1910, the Anglican population was in decline and because the parsonage was in poor shape, it was sold and the centre of the parish became the de Ramsay church, located at St-Félix-de-Valois. It included the congregation of St-Gabriel-de-Brandon as well as adherents at Joliette, St-Alphonse and many other pockets of English-speaking people in Joliette County. In 1920, the congregation was returned to the Parish of Rawdon. The photo at right shows the building c.1924 probably before a subsequent renovation. One can see tombstones in the foreground. The church was closed in 1955 but was re-consecrated in 1957 according to official church history.
A new life for an old and loved building
Earle and Nora Moore purchased the church in 1958. Earle was a Montreal businessman (Moore Brothers Machinery). He moved it to Masonville, which was then about three miles from Rawdon but is now part of the municipality. Nora’s grandfather, William Henry Mason, was a farmer at Sixth Range, Lot 14 of Rawdon Township. In the 1890s, he had placed a sign at his gate naming his farm Masonville. Nora received a share of this property from her mother, Marguerite Mason Lehane. William Henry’s father, Robert Mason, had arrived at Rawdon, with other family, from Ireland c. 1825.
The church was the couple’s first restoration project. Orland Blagrave, who was Beverly Prud’homme’s father, was employed to patiently take apart and reassemble the log building. Earle Moore directed and gave a hand in the operation while Nora was responsible for achieving the very natural flavour of the decor of the restored church. Because extensive damage from rot was found in the hand-squared timbers the restored building was reduced in size by a third and there was only seating for 45 in the pews. At the rededication, in 1960, the Blagrave family were among those seated and Bev’s mother, Edith, was in the choir. The overflow of attendees gathered on the porch and steps. Ultimately, in 1986, the Moores established Canadiana Village which was an important tourist attraction for a number of years but is now privately owned. The Moore property at Masonville had been too small to accommodate their then ever-growing collection of pioneer buildings and furnishings. Photos of this scenic property on Lake Morgan Road can be found using Google image search
The story of the Moores and St. John’s Church was covered in Canadian Homes in 1960 and in articles in the Montreal Star in 1962 and in Montreal Scene, its weekend supplement, in 1977. St. John’s continues as a privately-owned, consecrated Anglican Chapel under the jurisdiction of the Lord Bishop of Montreal and is part of the Parish of Rawdon. It is used at Thanksgiving, also for marriages and special events with permission from Earle’s family. Bev remembers a carol service there … “it was a heart warming experience, which was a good thing, because the church was not heated and has no electricity and was lit by lamps. Imagine — a lovely, moonlit evening in December with virgin-white snow all around. Never mind the cold … it was magic.” With thanks to Bev for the photos and advice and to facts from the Christ Church website.
Shown below, St. John’s in its new guise at Masonville.