Description of Historic Place
The structure at King's Road (County Road 18), known as St. Raphael's Church Ruins, is situated at the intersection of King's Road and Frog Hollow Road in South Glengarry. The limestone building was designed in the Romanesque Revival style. It was constructed in 1821 and destroyed by fire in 1970. The property is a National Historic Site and is protected by an Ontario Heritage Trust heritage conservation easement.
St. Raphael's Church Ruins are historically significant for their association with the spread of Roman Catholicism in Ontario. St. Raphael's parish was established following the immigration of a large number of Highland Scots to the County of Glengarry in 1786. Most of these Scots were Catholics who experienced persecution in their homeland. St. Raphael's was the only Roman Catholic parish for all of the County of Glengarry until 1833 when a new parish was established in Alexandria. In response to Glengarry's growing population, St. Raphael's Church (now in ruins) was built in 1821 to replace a smaller church (built c. 1788) on the site. St. Raphael's Church Ruins are also historically significant for their association with Bishop Alexander Macdonell (d. 1840), who was priest at the parish from 1805 to 1826. Macdonell oversaw the construction of the church, investing his own money in the project and hiring stonemasons from Scotland to work on the building. In addition to his duties at the parish, Macdonell served as Catholic Chaplain to the Glengarry Light Infantry during the War of 1812. He also established the College of Iona in 1818, the first seminary in Upper Canada. The college trained young men for the priesthood, and also offered a general academic program to prepare boys for secular vocations. In 1826, Macdonell was appointed Bishop of Kingston, and became the first Roman Catholic Bishop in Upper Canada. Over the course of his career in Upper Canada, thousands of immigrants arrived, many of them Roman Catholics from Scotland and Ireland. By 1840 there were 34 priests and 48 parishes in Upper Canada, and Macdonell played a key role in securing financial assistance from the local and British governments in order to establish these parishes. The church continued to serve the community until 1970, when it was destroyed by fire. It remains a community landmark and is seasonally operated as a historic site.
St. Raphael's Church Ruins are architecturally significant as an example of an early large Roman Catholic church in Upper Canada. At the time it was built, St. Raphael's was the administrative centre for Roman Catholicism in Upper Canada, and as such, was a large and substantial structure. The church was constructed of local limestone, and though the building is now a ruin, the remaining walls indicate that the masonry was of very good craftsmanship. The building has a cruciform plan and simple Romanesque features. The façade has three entrance doors with semi-circular transoms. On the second storey, above each door, is a square window. The façade is flanked by simple flat pilasters. These pilasters replaced large half-columns of the Tuscan order which were originally on the façade. The façade and transept walls have small circular windows in the apex of the gables. The side walls of the nave are divided into four bays, each with one large semi-circular arched window. The semi-circular apse has slightly smaller arched windows. Hardwood pegs and putlog holes on the interior and exterior of the ruins are evidence of the building technique employed during the church's construction, as the interior of the church was built using intricate wood joinery. The interior of the ruins exposes the stone foundation walls. The roof and tower were destroyed, but one of the church's original bells, cracked during the fire, is situated on a stone pedestal inside the ruins.
Located on the south side of King's Road in South Glengarry, St. Raphael's Church Ruins is situated in a rural community. The College of Iona is located on King's Road directly across from the ruins. St. Raphael's Cemetery sits adjacent to the ruins, on the south and east sides. Consecrated in 1801, the cemetery predates the church. To the west of the church is the rectory which was commissioned by Bishop Macdonell in 1808. A monument to Macdonell, erected in 1930, is situated in front of the ruins.
Items that contribute to the historical value of St. Raphael's Church Ruins include:
-Association with the spread of Roman Catholicism in Ontario
-Association with the Scottish settlement of the County of Glengarry
-Association with Bishop Alexander Macdonell
-Association with the College of Iona
Features that contribute to the architectural value of St. Raphael's Church Ruins include:
-An example of an early large Roman Catholic church in Upper Canada
-Construction out of local limestone
-Romanesque Revival features
-Façade entrance doors with semi-circular transoms
-Square windows on the second storey of the façade
-Flat pilasters on the façade
-Small circular windows of the façade and transept walls
-Semicircular arched windows of the nave, transom and apse
-Putlog holes on the interior and exterior walls
-Exposed foundation walls
-Original bell situated on a stone pedestal inside the ruins
Characteristics that contribute to the contextual value of St. Raphael's Church Ruins include:
-Situation in a rural community
-Location across the street from the College of Iona
-Situation adjacent to St. Raphael's Cemetery
-Situation adjacent to the 1808 rectory
-Monument to Bishop Alexander Macdonell in front of the ruins