Here we see Saint Patrick’s Church, Stafford, as photographed by the writer on a fine spring day in 1987. Both inside and out, Saint Patrick’s looks large and impressive, when in fact, it is a small house of worship. That is not the only reason why it stands out. It is a rare Anglican essay in the Romanesque Revival in a sea of Gothic Revival buildings.
The first services in Stafford were held in houses and barns by the Rev. Edward Hammond Massey Baker of Pembroke between 1854 and 1859. In the latter year the Rev. Thomas S. Campbell came from Ireland under some ecclesiastical discipline. He obtained permission from the Bishop of Toronto to do missionary work, establishing himself in Stafford. In 1866 his parishioners signed a petition for his reinstatement, but instead he was removed.
Still, under Campbell in 1863 a missionary meeting was held, and by 1866 the Mission of Stafford & Douglas emerged. From 1869 to 1876, Stafford No. 2—the future Saint Patrick’s Church—was an outstation of Pembroke until it was transferred to the Mission of Beachburg. In 1881, Beachburg was dissolved and the Mission of Stafford created, with regular services held at Saint Patrick’s, Stafford, Micksburg and a schoolhouse at Rankin. In 1889, a Methodist church at Rankin was purchased for services there.
Even so, there were signs of progress. In 1893, Stafford was removed from the Mission Fund, which meant it was considered self-supporting. A year later local Anglicans were reported raising money to build a new stone church. So good were finances that on 4 December 1895, Saint Patrick’s Church, Stafford was consecrated by Bishop John Travers Lewis.
Stafford had many settlers who were sons and daughters of Anglicans who first touched down in Canada in a military settlement at Beckwith. The choice of round-headed windows in their new house of worship is not surprising, given similar windows overlooking their parents’ worship at Saint James’s Church, Franktown. Perhaps there were other factors. The rock-faced stone in the new church’s walls and the semi-circular apse, however, suggest that either the rector or a prominent member of the building committee was familiar with Henry Hobson Richardson’s Trinity Church in Boston, and wanted that design reflected in the new church in Stafford.
The choice of Saint Patrick as patron saint also is an anomaly, it being the only church in the Diocese of Ottawa to be so named, despite the majority of Anglicans in the region before 1860 hailing from Ireland. It may well be that the choice of saint’s name was made by the clergyman or the bishop in the same way that he chose to have graves in the churchyard oriented facing Jerusalem (anticipating the Parousia) whereas members of the congregation had insisted that the church itself be situated foursquare with the concession road on which it fronted.
The substantial buttresses, the flange to the lower roof, the octagonal spire and the rounded capstones at the corners of the tower add to the distinction of this house of worship.
The Archives collects documents for parishes including parish registers, vestry reports, service registers, minutes of groups and committees, financial documents, property records (including cemeteries and architectural plans), insurance records, letters, pew bulletins, photographs and paintings, scrapbooks and unusual documents