The Herald – 1878.01.26 – Letter from Johnville – History – #8


To the Editor of the HERALD

Dear Sir,– So far we had reason to feel grateful for the success attending our efforts, and thankful for the opportune assistance and encouragement given when needed, and when we showed a disposition to help ourselves. We succeeded with the school and the post office much sooner and easier than we had expected, and began to see that our lives were not case in unpleasant places.

The next thing, in order, was a church. Stations in private house are never satisfactory, even under the most favourable circumstances, they are always, more or less, an inconvenience to many, and as familiarity breeds contempt, it is only when there is no other alternative that such a system can be permitted or tolerated.

In the summer of 1863 the congregation had become such that the largest house in Johnville could not half accommodate them, for that reason, for the decency of religion, and the respect due to it, a church had become an absolute necessity, and a determined move had to be made in that direction. To secure the land was the first step to be taken. Application was made to the Crown Land Office, for a lot of one hundred acres, suitably situated. According to orders, and without delay, the lot was offered at public sale and purchased for four dollars, the set up price. No competition or opposition was offered, nor was such feared, the purchaser being obliged to build a church, which was the condition of sale. These are a few of the kind and considerate acts of the government towards us, in the day of our need, and which being admitted go to shew that, in that day, we had no reason to find fault with them or the head of any department thereof.

Up to this time, and until the arrival of Rev. B. McKenna, our first resident priest, about five years Johnville was a part of the Woodstock mission, distant thirty-five miles and served by Father Connolly, who visited us as often as twice every month. In the winter of 1864 it was decided unanimously to commence the building of a church, and we were encouraged to such decision by the priests assuring us it would cost Johnville nothing in money, such an arrangement suited us to perfection. Our time being, to some extent, our own, it was more at our disposal than silver or gold. In February of the year named, by order of our priest, we assembled, every man in Johnville, with our teams, such as we then possessed, and in one day chopped and delivered on the ground, all the wood for the frame. In this way our first [instalment] was paid towards the new church. Nothing more was done until early in July, then, the hurried season being over, we all assembled again to pay our second [instalment], and after five days hard, constant work, we had the great satisfaction of seeing it framed and raised, and at the stage of advancement had cost us nothing in money.

During the summer, and according as the work progressed, contributions were solicited, in money and material, from among the old settlers at the River, Protestants generally, and so anxious were they to encourage Johnville, and manifest their good will towards their new Catholic neighbors, that all, with very few exceptions, contributed. The collectors, Wm. Boyd and Simon Cummins, succeeded so well , in the pious enterprise, that in the month of October, Johnville had the happiness of seeing the new church opened for divine service, and perfectly free from debt. The erection of that year, however, was intended only to meet the […] wants of the Settlement, and to serve as a chancel and sacristy of a larger church contemplated in time. We worship yet the same dear little church, and although Johnville of to-day is four times that 1864, and although its growth is sure, if slow, the wonder is, and the wonder grows, why the needed extension, so long contemplated has not yet been made.
Jan. 21st. 1878