Description of Historic Place
St. Anthony's Roman Catholic Church was constructed in the late 19th century in the French Gothic style. It stands near the source of the Mill River at the intersection of the Western Road (Route 2) and the Howlan Road (Route 143). It overlooks the Mill River Provincial Park, surrounding farmland and the Mill River.
The church is valued for its French Gothic architectural elements and for its contribution to the religious heritage of the area.
This building replaced two previous structures. In 1803, a log chapel was built at Cascumpec to serve eight Acadian families in the area. This was replaced by a larger church built in 1839.
By 1872, the growing parish required another church building and a parish picnic was held to raise funds for the project. The large sum of $1025.79 was achieved from the picnic and construction began in 1873 when the cornerstone was laid. The first resident priest was Rev. Stanislaus Boudreault. The church was completed in 1877 at a total cost of $4977.61. The parishoners had raised most of the money and only owed $150 when it was finished.
A dramatic incident in the history of the building happened in July 1890 when lightning struck the spire and started a fire. The immediate efforts of the priest and several parishoners saved the building when they climbed inside the spire and sawed off the burning section!
The rebuilt spire was struck by lightning again in 1912, after which the current small dome was added instead and lightning rods were incorporated into the design.
In 1891, Father F.X. Gallant made plans to expand the church by adding transepts and a semi-circular apse to the back of the building. This was completed by 1895 and the interior was finished in Birds-eye maple.
After the First World War, the parish was one of the first in Prince County to establish a monument in memory of eight parishoners who were killed in action. This "cenotaph" was built on the church grounds in 1919. Further offerings made in memory of the veterans assisted in the addition of the main altar which was consecrated by Bishop J.L. O'Leary on August 10, 1919.
More recent additions to the church grounds were made in 2006 when a 77 year old local stonemason built the archway leading to the church entrance. This project was financed by a 93 year old member of the parish.
St. Anthony's is located near its parochial house and church hall and remains an important source of community pride.
Source: Culture and Heritage Division, PEI Department of Tourism and Culture, Charlottetown, PE C1A 7N8
File #: 4310-20/A40
The heritage value of the church is shown in the following character-defining elements:
- the traditional cruciform plan with semi-circular apse
- the gable roof with bracketted eaves and eave returns
- the two staged square tower with buttresses
- the dome and cross topping the tower
- the statue in the alcoves of the tower
- the faux buttresses on all the exterior corners of the building
- the tall Gothic windows with tracery, trefoils, and quatrefoils
- the portico at the central entrance in the tower