NOTE CORRECTED DATE: The tour is this week, April 7.
In coordination with the Maple Run Tour – A Special Guided Tour of St.Peter’s Celestine Roman Catholic Church in Pakenham, April 7th at 1:30.
St. Peter Celestine Roman Catholic church in Pakenham has been designated one of the “Seven Wonders of Lanark County” for very good reasons. The church is a unique monument to a moment in time in the development of our community; the coming to maturity and full participation in Canadian society of the Irish Catholic community of the Ottawa Valley.
The Irish Catholics who settled in the valley were not refugees from the potato famine of 1847, they were fleeing the violence and extreme poverty of Ireland in the first decades after the Napoleonic wars, which ended in 1815. They came here to Pakenham starting with the Peter Robinson settlers of 1823 and by 1840, the local landscape was heavily populated with Scots Presbyterians in Lanark and Irish Catholics in Lanark and Carleton. They all first put up log churches in the 1850’s, then a generation later, began to construct stone or brick houses of worship.
The construction of St. Peter Celestine did not start until 1893 because the parish priest, Father Dominic Levin, was determined to build a really excellent church. Instead of the usual Irish gothic churches that we see in Almonte, Corkery, South March, Merrickville and Perth, for example,(there are many more all across eastern Ontario) Father Lavin brought in architects from Quebec and expert church builders from Montreal to erect a romanesque church in the highest French-Canadian neo-classical Baroque style found only in Quebec and the Ottawa Valley of Ontario.
The resulting church was finished in 1902 and by the Grace of God, has been restored by its congregation rather than redecorated, so that it preserves intact its elaborate, ornate décor typical of big Quebec churches of two hundred years ago and, today, found only in two old Quebec churches (Trois Pistoles and Rivière du Loup) and here in Pakenham, unique in English Canada. Local historian Terry Currie will give a guided tour of this remarkable church on Saturday, April 7th at 1:30 in the afternoon, in coordination with the Maple Runs events. For an in-depth look at the unsuspected history of our community, this is a “Don’t miss!’ opportunity. www.stpetercelestine.ca & www.mapleruntour.com