In 1815, Father Alexander Macdonell of St. Raphael’s built a stone gristmill beside a small pond fed by Loch Garry. The mill and the surrounding area was appropriately named the Priest’s Mill. When the town incorporated in 1883, its name was changed to Alexandria to honour its founder, Father Alexander Macdonell. The Mill Square was the heart of the village.
After the town’s incorporation, Alexandria filled with French craftsmen who were eager to ply their respective trades. The tremendously successful partnership, Munro and MacIntosh, built 6,000 carriages and 5,000 sleighs in 1908. The “Glengarry Buggy” acquired fame throughout Canada, United States, Mexico, Europe and South Africa. The village boomed! However, with the advent of the automobile and the Depression, the carriage factory was forced to close in 1929. Unfortunately, the buildings were demolished in 1938, and no visible landmark remains. One landmark which has endured in Alexandria is the impressive St. Finnan’s Cathedral on the corner of St. Paul and Bishop Streets. Its first Mass was on Christmas Day 1832, and the steeple and bells were erected in 1902.
There was a picnic in June 1907 to raise funds for a French church, Église Sacré Coeur. The first cornerstone was laid on April 14, 1910, and the structure still stands today on the southeast corner of Main and Lochiel Sts. Church on the Hill was built in 1912 and officially became a United church in 1925. The church is located on the corner of Kincardine St. E. and Dominion Streets.
St. Finnan’s Cathedral
Church on the Hill
Église Sacré Coeur