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Saint Paul, Shawville—West Quebec Deanery

Archival photo of Saint Paul Shawville
DIOCESAN ARCHIVES 51 S25 2
By on November 19, 2023

Modernity and Restoration

Up until a decade ago, this photograph dating from circa 1910 would have been a revelation to members of Saint Paul’s, Shawville. Where, they would have wondered, could this church be, possibly not recognizing their own church amid numerous other aspects to a vastly changed parish landscape since the middle years of Queen Victoria’s reign.

The first Anglican services were held in Clarendon by the Rev. Amos Ansley of Hull from 1827 to 1832. In 1839, the Reverend Samuel Strong of Bytown-Hull visited Clarendon and in 1840 construction began on the first Anglican house of worship. Began is the key word.

In late 1841, the Rev. Daniel Falloon came to reside here, holding services in a school until the first Saint Paul’s Church at Shawville opened for Divine Service in 1842. It was not yet completed. From such reticent acorns do mighty oaks grow. In 1843, the Reverend F.S. Neve of Clarendon opened mission stations in Bristol and Onslow townships, and travelled to Fort Coulonge, Havelock (Bryson), Portage du Fort and Quyon. Neve had reason to travel, as it was not until 1855 that the first Saint Paul’s house of worship was completed. Although consecrated by Bishop Fulford on 26 August 1855, from 1857 until 1859 Clarendon had no resident clergyman. Services were supplied fortnightly by the Rev. John Gribble of Portage du Fort.

In 1861, Clarendon mission, including Shawville, Thorne and Leslie townships, had services at ten places. By 1864, the mission was whittled down to Saint Paul’s, Shawville, James Caldwell’s house in Bristol, Clarke’s Schoolhouse, and the odd service at Bristol Corners. By 1870, services were held in Clarendon, Clarendon Front, Starke’s Corners and Bristol Corners.

On 15 July 1874, the cornerstone of the new stone Saint Paul’s Church was laid across the street from the first house of worship. The following year Clarendon (as it was known) was accorded parish status, with services by 1876 being held at Shawville; the Clarendon Front schoolhouse, the 9th Line schoolhouse; the Starke’s schoolhouse and the 8th Line schoolhouse.

The new church, like its predecessor, was not built in a day.  It was not until 20 January 1878 that the old church was used for the last time, then dismantled, with its site being converted into the handy burial ground we see here in the foreground. On 11 June 1880, the large stone Saint Paul’s Church was consecrated by the Bishop of Montreal. It was not until 1895 that Clarendon, as it was called, became completely self-supporting and was awarded Rectory status.

This photograph, believed taken circa 1910, is historic. In the foreground, we see the burial ground site of the first church, and it in turn would be relocated to a new site. The driveshed behind the church was soon made redundant by the automobile and eventually torn down. The ornate spire came to be regarded as old-fashioned and was removed, with a clock placed in the top of the sheered-off tower. The wooden portal to the vestry at the base of the tower was removed, as was the main porch. The bands of diamond shingles in the roof would eventually go. The ornate iron fence around the church fell victim to a war drive for scrap iron.

The main structure survived unscathed until funding from the Province of Québec restored the spire in 2015. Notable features of the main structure were the dark stone quoins that contrasted with the rubble walls, a triple-arched west window, and a large chancel wing.

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