Project Information
After 1907
1901 Snapshot
Air Photo Study
Image Library
It is appropriate at this time to look into the early history of parish development in Ottawa East, and to trace briefly the changes that have occurred in parish structure since the first church was established to serve Catholics in the area. It will give older parishioners a nostalgic glimpse of their early days growing up with the parish. Others who have joined the parish community in recent years may also be interested in how it all began.
No doubt, parish roots go back far beyond the Ottawa that even the oldest parishioners can recall, into those early By town days when the young settlement consisted only of a few crude shanties huddled on the banks of the recently completed Rideau Canal. It may be that, more than a century earlier, one of the Holy Canadian Martyrs, whose memory is commemorated in the name of the parish, paused briefly on his way to the Huron mission fields to perform the first celebration of the Holy Eucharist in this area. The first priest to serve in the new settlement of Bytown was assigned to duty here in 1827 from the already established community of Richmond. The first Catholic church was built in By town in 1832 on the site of the present Basilica. Construction of the present imposing edifice began some eight years later. Then, in 1846, the parish of St. Patrick's was formed to serve the Catholics living on the west side of the canal, in what was known as Upper Town.
With the arrival of the Oblate Fathers in Ottawa in 1844, and the coming of Bishop Guigues as the first Bishop of the new diocese of Ottawa three years later, the University of OttawaCatholiccommunity experienced a surge of activity that was to continue for many years. One of the first actions of the Bishop was to request the Oblates of Mary Immaculate to take over the operation and direction of Bytown College, which was eventually to develop into the University of Ottawa. Then, in 1856, the Oblate Fathers were called upon to form a new bilingual parish in Lower Town, to be known as St. Joseph's. The community of Ottawa East was then known as Archville and lay just beyond the limits of the newly formed city of Ottawa.
The first parish priest of St. Joseph's was Father Alexandre Trudeau who conducted the first services in the new parish church in 1856. St. Joseph's was to continue as a bilingual parish for more than 30 years until the French-speaking parish of Sacre Coeur was formed.
At the turn of the century, it was decided that the Catholics of Ottawa East should have a The White HOuse - La Maison Blanche - c1890church of their own, and the new parish of Holy Family was formed, again a bilingual parish under the direction of the Oblate Fathers. On March 24, 1901, the first services in the new parish were held in an old wooden building, located on the Oblate property on Main Street, known at the time as the White House. Shortly afterwards, construction was started on the new Holy Family Church on a site on the south side of Oblate Avenue.
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