As a followup to my post on John Lahey the Elder, here is Bishop Guigue’s account of John Lahey’s donation of two acres to the mission of March (later the parish of St. Isidore, Kanata). The following (which I discovered through google books) is taken from Alexis de Barbezieux, Histoire de la province ecclésiastique d’Ottawa et de la colonisation de la vallée de l’Ottawa (Ottawa, 1897), which cites Guigue’s notes on his visit to March township in September 1848:
In very rough translation, Bishop Guigues quotes John Lahey as follows:
In the year 1848, the 24th of the month of September, I, John Lehay [Lahey], landowner in the township of March, desirous, according to my abilities, to provide for the needs of the Catholic religion, give, purely and simply, to Monsignor Eugène Guigues, first bishop of Bytown, two acres of land for the maintenance of the church and of the Catholic priest who will be named by His Excellency and his successors, to provide for this mission or parish of March. These two acres of land are situated on lot no. 14 and touch, on one side, the main road which leads to Bytown, the other three sides bounded by the land of the donor.
At this point (i.e., in September 1848), there was a small wooden chapel on John Lahey’s land (lot 14, concession 3, March township), which chapel was enlarged in the early 1850s. In the mid-1880s, the parish (soon to be named the parish of St. Isidore) built a stone church on the same site. This stone building, designed by the priest-architect Georges Bouillon and built in part by John Lahey’s nephew John (son of James Lahey and Anne Armstrong, and husband of Margaret Jane Killeen), was demolished in August 2010 to make way for the construction of a new, and much larger, building to meet the needs of a vastly expanded parish and its parishioners.
(I have a bias toward smart, sensitive reclamations and reconfigurations of old buildings, in favour of outright demolition followed by new construction. ‘Reduce, reuse, and recycle,’ as the slogan goes; and also, what’s wrong with a sense of history, which contributes to a multi-layered sense of place (past, present, and future, with all of the continuity that this implies) in our built environments? I have not yet seen the new church in person, but I hope to visit it this weekend when I go up to Ottawa. And while I’ll probably resist the temptation to stand outside the new building with an “Occupy South March!” placard [it’s too late for that, in any case: the historic preservationists lost this round, despite their best efforts, and more’s the pity), I have to say that I am deeply sceptical of the claim that “this is no average church” [.PDF file]. As I’ve mentioned before, the internet “virtual tour” of the new St. Isidore (scroll down to Take a Virtual Tour of Our New Church!) puts me in mind more of a Holiday Inn Convention Centre than of a Roman Catholic church. Please may it not look like an American Sunbelt-style megachurch, devoted to the propagation of a gospel of “prosperity,” is what I now hope, and this is now my heartfelt plea.)