St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church, located in a wooded area on the South Service Road halfway between South Lancaster and Bainsville, is about as far removed from Notre Dame Cathedral as you can get, both geographically and architecturally.
Don’t worry. That’s not an offensive statement. The church wasn’t designed that way. There’s a children’s play area right in the church – it’s not in a separate room like it is in other churches – and the church grounds themselves featured a seven-circuit labyrinth.
New parishioner Karen Davison Wood says that St. John’s was designed in the arts and crafts style rather than the Gothic and neo-Gothic styles of other older churches.
She says that the neo-Gothic style emphasizes how insignificant man is in the sight of God, which is why so many cathedrals feature tall spires and extremely large doorways. The arts and crafts style, which was started in England by William Morris, emphasizes man’s connection to nature. Much of St. John’s is made
of wood, for example, and the stained glass windows tend to show more flowers and fewer saints.
The church itself was built in 1897 (consecrated in 1899), though an extension was added in the late 1980s after an influx of Quebec residents moved to Glengarry.
St. John’s is located on the former property of the late John McLennan, an MP who served in John A. Macdonald’s government. Mr. McLennan died four years before the church was built; his descendants had pledged $800 to build the church and pay for a minister. It was originally intended to be a church for the the employees of the McLennan estate.
Stuart Upton, a long-time member of the church, says that his grandparents, Thomas and Ellen Upton, were at the first ever church service here.
And now I know five things I didn’t know before.
Priest’s Mill Arts Centre
Of all the buildings on this year’s Doors Open tour, the Priest’s Mill in Alexandria is the most familiar. For more than 15 years I have lived and worked right across the street from it and I have been witness to its many changes.
I saw the restaurant start out as Champions’ Pub. The building
has since housed a number of other restaurants like The Highland Piper, Big Luke’s Take 2, and its current tenant, The North Glengarry.
Recently, it became home to an arts centre that has built up quite a reputation as a glass blowing facility.
Unfortunately, the centre was closed on the Sunday when I visited (though the brochure told me it would be open.) As such, I had to read some material that the centre had made available.
Much of it I already knew from previous research. I knew that Rev. Alexander Macdonell came to Glengarry from Scotland in the 1780s. I knew that he founded St. Raphael’s Parish and that he built his gristmill on the Garry River to meet the needs of his parishioners and new settlers, many of whom were disbanded soldiers from the War of 1812.
But what I didn’t know was that a fire destroyed the original gristmill in 1848 along with a carding mill that the mill’s new owner, Donald A. Macdonald, had constructed about four years earlier.
And now I know six things I didn’t know before.
Glengarry Pioneer Museum
This museum, also known as the jewel of Dunvegan, was the busiest of all the stops on the
Doors Open tour. That’s just happenstance though. As it turned out, the museum was holding a volunteer appreciation luncheon on the Sunday of the Doors Open tour. The museum has grown a lot over the past oneand-a-half decades. It now features 11 buildings and an outdoor pavilion complete with track lighting.
I managed to steal a couple minutes with Jennifer Black, the museum’s curator, and a few of her staff members. She said that the museum has well over 8,000 artifacts and that some of them date back to the early 1700s.
When asked about the oldest artifact at the museum, I was given the story of the MacCrimmon Querns, which was a handmill used to grind grain. It dates back to 1715 and is currently located in the Orange Lodge, which the museum also uses as its office.
The mill was the property of William Dubh Mackenzie the fifth Earl of Seaforth, who passed away in 1740. Interestingly, the Querns has made their way to Glengarry twice. Once when Mackenzie’s family emigrated to Canada. Then, after a stint on display at Queen’s University, it finally game back to Glengarry so it could be featured at the museum. And now I know seven things I didn’t know before.