A History of Christ Church Anglican Mission

 

Valcartier, Quebec

 

Written by Macklem Brett, Walter Hicks and John Robinson

 

1945

 

 

 

 

 EARLY HISTORY

 

        In 1815 the Valcartier district was a wilderness. Four of the leading men of Quebec, Hon. John Neilson, Hon. Andrew Stuart, Louis Moquin, Advocate, and Nicholas Vincent, chief of the Huron Tribe, formed an association and purchased from the government and secured a large tract of the Jesuit Estates. About 1816 the settlements of St. Gabriel de Valcartier East and West were formed. Men familiar with clearing forest lands were brought in from the bordering states.  Liberal offers made to arriving Scottish immigrants enticed many to Valcartier and thus the first settlement began. Soon a road was built from Lorette to the picturesque Jacques Cartier River.  A saw and a grist mill were erected and land was eagerly taken up.

 

        The first Church of England services at Valcartier were conducted by clergy from Quebec City. In 1817 the Rev. G. J. Mountain, son of the Bishop, became Rector of the Cathedral and on Sept. 12th 1818 performed a number of baptisms at Valcartier.

 

        In 1820 the Rev. T. Campbell was ordained deacon and attached to the cathedral as "Preacher to Protestant Settlements adjacent to Quebec". He was succeeded in 1821 by the Rev. L. C. Jenkins who seems to have visited Valcartier monthly. Services were afterwards maintained by various Quebec clergy including G. Archbold (Traveling Missionary), R. R. Burrage Rector of Levis, and J. Brown of St. Paul's Quebec.

 

        In 1824 Adjutant Alexander Wolff, late of the 60th Regiment settled in the district (with his family) after a distinguished military career. He served in Egypt under general Abercrombie and also in the Peninsula, was wounded in five separate battles and was the proud possessor of the war medal with sixteen clasps, the largest number held at that period by any officer in the British army.

 

 

        So beloved was he by his men that many of the rank and file of his regiment settled in the district in order to be near their old leader. It is said that Adjutant Wolff spent many years on his homestead and ably discharged his duties as a Lieutenant Colonel of Militia and as an active and upright Magistrate.

 

        One of his sons, Lieutenant Colonel Charles Stuart Wolff led a very adventurous career before settling down at Valcartier. He took part in the hectic gold rush to California in 1849 and later sailed to Australia on a similar adventure where he remained for several years. Upon his return to Valcartier he married a grand-daughter of the Hon. John Neilson and lived to a ripe old age. Many of his descendants are still in the community.

 

        Between 1832-1834, the Rev. J. Shortt, traveling missionary from the Cathedral was a frequent visitor in the district. It was in this period that the Bible Deed to land for the Stoneham Church was granted ( 1832) and also the Bible Deed to the cemetery at St. Catherine ( 1833).

 

        In January 1837, the Rev. H. Vachell, (who had been in charge of the Cathedral during Archdeacon G. J. Mountain's absence in England where he was appointed and consecrated Bishop) began to minister to the needs of a congregation which now numbered thirty­one families. He reported that on the 20th of November 1837 more than seventy people were present at the morning service. It appears that a service was held once a month in a wooden house situated near the school. Since services were only held twice a year in neighbouring settlements which included Bourg Louis and Portneuf it would seem that the Valcartier congregation was the largest in the district. Mr. Vachell recommended that more frequent services be held at Valcartier. He was succeeded in 1838 by the Rev. H. D. Sewell who was also Chaplain to the Bishop.

 

        In 1840, Portneuf, Bourg Louis and St. Catherine were formed into separate missions leaving Rev. Mr. Sewell with Stoneham, Lac Beauport and Valcartier. Incidentally the Communion Vessels still in use in St. Peter's Church in Stoneham were given by Mr. Sewell in 1841. The inscription he had scratched on the base of the Chalice and Paten could still be faintly seen last year before the Communion vessels were replated. The Stoneham wardens had Mr. Sewell's inscription re-engraved on the base of the Chalice, in order to preserve this link with the past. Before he resigned and went to England in 1844, he obtained land for a Parsonage at Valcartier. In his absence services were taken temporarily by the Rev. E. J. Senkler, Rector of the Boy's High School of Quebec.

 

Site for Church Secured in 1844

 

        The congregation was now in a position to secure a permanent site for a church. We find in the Parish Book of Records that in Feb. 1844 the deed for one acre of land was registered. The entry reads as follows: "The Honourable John Neilson donated an acre of ground to the Lord Bishop of Montreal and Quebec in trust for the Rector of the Parish and his successors. It is described as "in the rear of a lot formerly granted by John Melrose to the Royal Institution for a school house and on which is a wooden house intended to be used as a Church." Thus, while services had been held for the past twenty-seven years, it was not until 1844 that the land upon which the present Church stands became the property of the congregation.

 

                    

 

 

                                   

                                   

                              INTERIOR OF CHRIST CHURCH VALCARTIER

 

 

        The Rev. Edward Cullen Parkin, the first resident minister about whom any parish records exist, was appointed as Incumbent of Valcartier, Stoneham and Lac Beauport in 1844. Due to his untiring and ceaseless efforts the church prospered and increased in membership until the original building became too small for the needs of the congregation. Plans were made to erect a larger church “a beautiful stone church which we trust may stand for many generations as an enduring monument”. Not much is known about the struggles of the congregation to gather funds and material for the new church, but they seem to have had considerable help in the undertaking. For instance there is an old story to this effect. An officer killed in the Crimean War left among his personal effects a letter which requested that a sum of money be left to help build a church at Valcartier.

        If you look at the picture of the interior of the church, you will notice a brass tablet just above and behind the pulpit. As the lettering is too small to read in the picture, I shall quote the inscription. "To the glory of God and in memory of Major George Ranken, R. E., who fell at Sebastopol, A.D., 1856. The windows in this church were placed by his friend Alfred R. Roche of the Canadian Civil Service and formerly a Lieutenant of the British Legion. Seeing that during life these two friends joined cordial hands in promoting the general welfare of Valcartier and in helping to build its Church, it is but fitting that their names should be linked upon this simple tablet."   Since Major Ranken died in 1856 and the church was not built until 1864 and the memorial states that he helped build the church, it is reasonable to suppose that the story related above is true and that it was Major Ranken who bequeathed a sum of money towards the erection of the building.

 

Lieutenant Roche had these inscriptions placed on the lower panel of the windows as a fitting guide to all who in later generations might enter the Church he loved so well. "Live by Faith". "God is Love". "Search the Scriptures". "Hold Fast the Faith". "Thy will be done".  "Thy Kingdom Come."

 

        There is a tradition that a company of Royal Engineers stationed in Quebec City built the church from a design taken from an old parish Church somewhere in England.

 

New Church Opened for Divine Worship 1863

 

        The new Church, a beautiful stone structure of Gothic type was opened for Divine Worship on Christmas Day 1863. For the past eighty-two years it has stood as a monument to the energy, foresight and sacrifices made by the congregation and it's friends in order that their descendants for generations to come might have a fitting place in which to worship Almighty God.

 

        The first baptism in the present Church was that of Eliza Neil on March 27th, 1864. The last baptisms (at time of writing) were: Robert Walter Hicks, May 13th, 1945, son of Olive and Walter Hicks, and Grace Jane Hicks, daughter of Harry and Viola Hicks, of Lancaster, N.H., U.S.A., on June 4th, 1945.

 

        By Easter 1864, it was found necessary to erect additional pews in the church to accommodate the increasing congregation. Mr. Ward resigned as Church Warden at the Easter vestry meeting and Messrs. William Smith and Henry Patton were appointed in his place.

 

        I understand that the first church was built where the chancel of the present church now stands. Perhaps part of the old church was used as a chancel because we find that in 1872 a resolution was passed that the chancel be completed. Many were buried in the old cemetery, their graves unmarked and forgotten. When a cellar was excavated under the church for a furnace, in 1913, several coffins were discovered.

 

        On November 5th, 1864 the Reverend E. C. Parkin resigned as incumbent of the Valcartier Mission and shortly afterwards moved to a mission near Lennoxville. His twenty years of service in the mission must have been busy years. Roads were poor, little better than trails, and travel must have been difficult especially in the winter months. That his work was appreciated and valued is shown by the farewell addresses presented to him by his parishioners in River Aux Pins and by those in Valcartier. These addresses are preserved in the old Vestry book of the Parish as well as Mr. Parkin's answer. From these old records we get a glimpse of his character and the work he accomplished far the community.

 

The following address was presented to him from that part of his mission called the Pine River.

 

Reverend and Dear Sir:

 

We, the undersigned. inhabitants of St. Gabriel West, Valcartier , understanding that you are about to leave us shortly to take the care of another mission near Lennoxuille, beg  to  express our unfeigned regret at your departure after a sojourn of upwards of twenty years amongst  us.

 

 Your kind ministrations to the sick and dying, which you were always most willing to attend to, whenever called upon day or night , will always be thought of with thankfulness. But the greatest blessing a people can be blessed with is a school, which you were the means of placing in our midst. Though there were many difficulties to encounter in establishing the first school in this place, you manfully overcame all obstacles and will leave behind you a monument of your own rearing. Many of the rising generation in years to come will say, we have to thank the Reverend E.Cc. Parkin who placed the first and only school in the Pine River Forest which taught us to read God's Holy Word and to love Him whose blood cleanseth from all sin.

 

Wishing God's blessing to accompany you and your kind partner and children to the sphere to which you are appointed, is the sincere desire and prayer of your humble hearers. Twenty one signatures are appended to the address.

 

THE REV. E. C. PARKIN'S REPLY  

 

The Parsonage, Valcartier, Nov. 2, 1864.

 

M y dear Friends and Brethren :

 

I have read your parting address with much satisfaction. T o know that my ministrations have been duly appreciated by you cannot but be a source of consolation to me now that those ministrations are brought to a close.

 

To know that I leave behind me a good school which you are kind enough to attribute to my exertions will ever be a subject of pleasing recollection. Ten years ago it was a matter of surprise to find one of the then rising generation who could read God's Holy Word. now the happy exception is to find one who CANNOT. To your teachers untiring attention to your children's interests, you must attribute this success. I thank God that I have been enabled to accomplish what I have done for you and I pray that the same blessing which has followed your masters faithful teaching may attend his future exertions.

 

I thank you for your kind wishes and prayers on behalf of Mrs. Parkin myself and family and bid you, dear friends and brethren a Sorrowful farewell. I am your affectionate friend and pastor.

 

            Edward Cullen PARKIN.

 

The following address was presented to the Rev. E. C. Parkin by the Pew holders and others constituting the congregation of Christ Church Valcartier.

 

Reverend and dear Sir :

 

As you have intimated to us your intention of resigning the charge of Valcartier , after a residence amongst us of twenty years, we, your parishioners, desire to express to you our extreme regret and sorrow at your departure, and to assure you that we shall never forget the lively interest you have always manifested in the promotion of the temporal and spiritual welfare of ourselves and our children.  In the time of sickness and sorrow you have ever been ready to advise and console us; to act the part of a friend and pastor.

 

I thank you for your handsome present; I appreciate it the more because I have been assured that many of you who have but little have done your diligence gladly to give of that little. I thank you for your good wishes and prayers in behalf of myself and Mrs. Parkin and now Dear Brethren, Farewell'. When I shall be engaged in other work, when other scenes shall meet my view than these upon which I have gazed with delight for more than twenty years, I shall think of yourselves and your little ones, and when I pray for God's blessing upon me and mine, I shall never forget to add in reference to you and to your children a prayer for their blessing.

 

I am, my dear brethren, your faithful friend.

 

Edward Cullen Parkin.

 

        At one time the congregation owned considerable land. In 1855 the records show that 90 acres of land were granted per Hon. Jos. Cauchon, commissioner of Crown Lands to the Rev. E. C. Parkin incumbent of the mission of Valcartier and to his successors in office. It was stipulated that the sum of one cent was to be paid on the 11th day of November each year to the Jesuit Estates. This land {along the Redmond road) together with two other lots were later sold. One acre however was reserved from the latter - the site upon which the parsonage stands. The remains of a foundation upon which a barn once stood can still be seen at the rear of the parsonage.

 

        In 1865, the Rev. A. A. Yon Iffland was appointed as Incumbent to be followed by the Rev. Andrew Balfour in 1870. About five years later the Rev. Solomon Riopel began a pastorate which lasted for nearly thirty-five years.

 

Dr. S. Riopel 

 

        As a clergyman and doctor he ministered diligently to the spiritual and physical needs of the community. Many are the tales still told about the Reverend gentleman and his travels throughout the district. Twice during his incumbency in the mission the Parsonage was burned - about 1876 and again about ten years later. All the early Parish registers were lost in the first fire, hence there are no records of births, burials or marriages previous to 1876. Duplicate registers however are stored in the Archives on Garden St. in Quebec. Many members of Christ Church Valcartier were baptized by Dr Riopel, married by him and their children baptized and prepared for confirmation. He was incumbent longer than any other clergyman in the history of the mission. He moved from Valcartier in 1905. Five years later while chaplain of Gross Isle, he died at the age of sixty-nine and was brought back to Valcartier and buried in Christ Church Cemetery on the tenth of August 1910. His grave is under the shadow of the Chancel windows. He is at rest after more than half a life time of service in the Master's work in this community.

 

        Between 1905 and 1913 the following were incumbents of the mission; The Rev's J. S. Brewer, J. Lister Coles and A. W. Dutton. In 1911 some land was purchased from the School Board of the Municipality of St. Gabriel East for the purpose of erecting a stable. An old school was reconverted and used for the above purpose. With the coming of good roads, (also kept open in the winter months) and motor cars, the old stable fell into disuse and was sold in 1945.

 

Rev. J. Prout

 

        1913 the Rev. J. Prout began a pastorate that lasted for almost twenty years. Shortly after the outbreak of the First World War, the government took over several thousand acres of land for the purpose of establishing a military camp and training centre for soldiers before proceeding overseas. Many of those who owned farms where the camp is now situated were forced to sell their land and seek other homes. A few found farms in the district but many left the community and settled elsewhere. Almost one third of the congregation left the district. For a a time it was feared that the church might have to close, but the wardens worked tirelessly and with the cooperation of those remaining it was enabled to carry on. Mention should be made at this time of the long and meritorious service by two church wardens during this difficult period in the church's history. The late John Hick's senior acted as people's warden for nineteen years and Alfred Hicks was appointed Rector's warden for twenty consecutive years. Many are the references in the vestry book to the efficient and tireless efforts of these gentlemen on behalf of Christ Church.

 

St. Paul's Church,  Loretteville

 

        Previous to 1920, Anglican families at Loretteville drove to Valcartier to worship on Sundays. Now however, it was felt that there were sufficient families to justify the building of a church in that locality. This church was consecrated on St. Barnabas' Day 1920. The Lord Bishop of the Diocese suggested that the church be called St. Barnabas, but in view of the fact that most of the furnishing came from the old St. Paul's Mariner's Chapel situated  at Munn's Cove (opened June 3rd 1832), it was decided to name the new church St. Paul's Loretteville and thus preserve the link with the past. The pews, prayer desks, lectern, font and bell came from the old St. Paul's. The present prayer desk in Christ Church Valcartier also came from the Mariner's chapel. The first sermon in the Loretteville church was preached by the chaplain to the King, Rev. Dr. Samuel Bickersteth. Among those present at that service were the Lord Bishop of the Diocese, the Right Reverend Lennox Williams, Archdeacon Scott and K. Campbell, Esq., Chancellor of the Diocese. The Rev. Mr. Prout was Incumbent at the time of the Consecration and the late Desmond Fitz Gerald and R. Penny Sr. wardens. A few years later the interior of the church was renovated and panelled with B.C. fir. St. Paul's Loretteville is now well equipped and contains two beautiful memorials an oak Communion Table and Pulpit. One of the wardens, Malcolm Eglinton enlisted three years ago and for outstanding bravery and courage at Ortono in Italy was awarded the Military Medal. A few weeks later he was seriously wounded and for fifteen months has been confined to various hospitals. We hope to have Sgt. Eglinton back from St. Anne's in a few months time.

        A few years ago the original bell was replaced by one brought from the family estate of Miss Prescott - this is the bell now in the belfry at St. Paul's while the old one from the Mariner's chapel was loaned to the Protestant Chapel at Camp Valcartier.

The Rev. J. Prout remained as incumbent of the Valcartier mis­sion until 1931, at which time he was succeeded by Rev. W. Lack. In the parish register we find an interesting entry which concerns the early days of the parish. In 1833 land was secured for a cemetery at St. Catherine and for a number of years there was an Anglican church there. As families moved away or died a time was reached when it was no longer possible to hold services there. The church fell into disuse and finally was torn down and the lumber divided among the few remaining families in the district. For years the cemetery was abandoned. Finally in 1932 we find this entry in the parish register.

 

"The remains of Margaret Brown aged sixty-eight years, who died Nov.20, 1858 and the remains of eight other bodies names ages, dates of burial, etc., all unknown were removed by me Ernest R. Roy subscribing witness from the  abandoned Anglican   Cemetery at St. Catherine, County of Portneuf, permission for the same being granted by the superior Court of Quebec and the remains were then re-interred by me in the Anglican Cemetery at Valcartier and which was done on Wednesday June First 1932.

 

 

By me

 

Witnesses :  W  Henderson,

 

Ernest R. ROY,

Rector of Levis

 

        The Rev. Mr. Lack was instrumental in carrying out extensive repairs to the parsonage at Valcartier. Since leaving the mission he has had some exciting experiences. He was one of those evacuated from Dunkirk and later was a member of an anti-aircraft gun crew during the Blitz on Britain. The last news concerning Mr. Lack was received from a padre overseas,  E. C. Royle.  On April 6th, 1945 Capt. Royle wrote: Of all people, I ran into Rev. Lack the other day! We all went to a meeting that was addressed by the Archbishop of York - a fine meeting - wish it could have been longer - and there in the uniform of the Church Army was Mr. Lack, as large as life, but looking naturally older and a little tired. He was full of questions about Loretteville and Valcartier and sends his special good wishes to the people there."

 

        The Rev. E. C. Ward moved to Valcartier in 1934 and continued work on renovating the parsonage. The need for a parish hall was recorded in the minutes of a vestry meeting held in 1935. Work on a Parish hall commenced but owing to unforeseen circumstances had to be discontinued.

 

        The Rev. W. J. Rowe was incumbent from 1937 until 1939 and was succeeded by the Rev. Harold Church. A modern water pressure system was installed at the parsonage in 1940 and still gives excellent service.

 

        In 1941 the Rev. Macklem Brett moved from the Malbay Mission Gaspe, to become the thirteenth resident incumbent of Christ Church Valcartier since 1844.

 

        At the last annual vestry meeting held in January 1945 it was decided that in view of the fact the congregation of Christ Church had just concluded a century of service (since acquiring the land upon which to build a church) a special effort should be put forth in the coming year to mark the beginning of the second century in a suitable way. After much discussion it was decided to explore the possibilities of erecting a parish hall that would not only fill the needs for the social life of the parish but also provide a suitable re­creation centre for young people in the community. At a vestry meeting held a month later plans and specifications were submitted and approved. Members of the congregation were to be canvassed for donations either in cash or lumber. The building was designed locally and Wallace Robinson was engaged to supervise the construction.

 

 

Christ Church Parish Hall

 

        The new parish hall although not completely finished, was used for the first time on July 12th, 1945. By August 15th the stage had been completed and the large crowd which attended the annual bazaar and the dance on that date saw the hall almost completed. The new hall will be officially opened by his Grace the Archbishop on Wednesday evening, September 26th, 1945.

 

        The hall has been built on the Parsonage grounds about sixty feet from the highway. One enters the building through a porch eight feet square. The hall is sixty feet long, twenty-four feet wide and the ceiling is twelve feet from the floor. The building is well lighted throughout (twenty electric lights, five wall plugs), the in­terior is finished with Donaconna board and with the paneled ceiling gives a pleasing appearance. Under the stage (sixteen feet by fourteen feet) there is a roomy kitchen in which provision has been made for running water. Eight windows in the main hall and four smaller windows in the kitchen give ample light for day time ac­tivities. The stage curtain is made from velour of mulberry shade. There is a metal roof on the hall and the outside walls have been  covered with roll-brick shingles.

 

        We now have a building in which social evenings may be held, plays presented and the dimensions of the building are such that a regulation badminton court is possible. We now have a Recreational Centre for the young people that will be a credit to the whole community.

 

        The building of this parish hall has been a great effort but we feel that the effort has been worth while. It represents a monument of thankfulness to those who in the years gone by have given of their time and substance to keep Christ Church going. It is also a symbol of hope for the years to come.

 

Conclusion

 

        This booklet has been written in order to preserve for the people of this community some of its early history and to show to members of the present congregation of Christ Church, the struggles and the efforts of their forefathers to provide a place of worship. May it stimulate us with earnest efforts to carry on the work so nobly begun by them so that our children in their turn may enjoy the fruits of our labours.

 

Acknowledgement

 

        The congregation of Christ Church Valcartier truly made a special effort to mark this anniversary. 1945 has been the biggest year in the history of the mission. The Parish Hall has not only been completed but also more than half the total cost has already been met. The attendance at Holy Communion and at all other services has shown a marked improvement.

 

        I wish to express appreciation to all who have made possible the publication of this souvenir; to his Grace the Archbishop, to those who have con­tributed information, to business firms, merchants, professional men and others who have either advertised in this booklet or given donations, and to Mr. R. Nelson Tweddell of Valcartier for his in­valuable assistance in preparing this for publica­tion.

 

        May I also express appreciation to those who have contributed so generously towards the Parish Hall Fund, not only to members of the congregation but to all who have assisted and made it possible to build this year. We are grateful to the firms and mills for their prompt delivery of the necessary materials so that the Parish Hall could be completed without undue delay.

 

Macklem Brett, Incumbent

Walter Hicks,

John Robinson,

 

Wardens.