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Brief Histories of the Margaree Family of Churches

St. Joseph's

The parish of St. Joseph’s occupies both sides of the South West Margaree River and extends from East Lake Ainslie through Scotsville, Upper Margaree, Gillisdale and South West Margaree to Margaree Forks, Coady Road and Dunvegan.

The first chapel was built in 1832 and was called St. Andrew’s.  Its size was 40’ by 30’ by 18’.  The chapel was never heated during the winter but would always be filled with a crowd of devout worshippers. Until 1873 all the priests, with one exception (Fr. John Chisholm), had their home in Broad Cove.

In 1871, a new church, 70’ by 42’ by 28’ was built and called St. Joseph’s.  The glebe house was built in 1888 replacing the previous one which was destroyed by fire.  In 1873, South West Margaree separated from Broad Cove with Fr. Joseph Macleod as pastor.  The church remained until it was destroyed by fire in February of 1967 after ninety-six years.  The fire started during Mass.  The celebrant was Fr. Gerald MacKenzie.  He was a curate at the time.  Fr. Roberts was the Parish priest.

The heat from the fire was so intense that it melted the church bell.  The bell was cast for St. Joseph’s Church in 1897.  It weighed 1200 pounds.  Several articles were saved including the organ.  Before the organ was purchased the musical instrument used by the choir was a violin played by Malcolm H. Gillis, a noted violinist.

A new church similar to the present one was opened in 1970 but was destroyed by an arsonist’s fire in 1977.  The parish has gone through some rough times but has persevered and has built two churches since 1967.  The present church was opened in 1980.

The parish of St. Joseph’s had a resident pastor until 1995 when it was amalgamated with St. Patrick’s Parish under St. Michael’s Parish in East Margaree.  St. Joseph’s Parish consists of approximately 100 families.


St. Michael's

The parish of St. Michael’s was established in 1801.  At that time, the place of worship was a log chapel.  This humble little church was blessed and christened St. Michael by Fr. Gabriel Champion., a missionary who served both Margaree and Cheticamp from 1801-1806.

A second St. Michael’s Church was built by the people of Margaree in 1810, and it was paid for with money ($200.00) left by Fr. Gabriel Champion upon his death.

Again in the years between 1856 and 1859, a third church was erected.  It was built by Fr. William Chisholm during his ministry in Margaree.  This third structure was built entirely of wood in a beautiful Gothic style and lasted nearly one hundred years.  In the late 1940’s to early fifties, a major renovation was done to the church including new roof, altars, altar rails and windows.

In 1952, this beautiful old structure was completely destroyed when lightning struck the steeple, and it was levelled in less than an hour.  Some men of the parish were able to save the altars and other things such as chalices, vestments and altar cloths.  Church services were held in the parish hall while the parishioners decided what to do.

With much determination and dedication, they succeeded in erecting a fourth St. Michael’s Church, this one built entirely of stone.  Some of the items saved from the fire were used in the new church.

This fourth and present church was officially opened and blessed on August 10, 1958 by the Bishop of Antigonish, Most Rev. John R. MacDonald.


St. Patrick’s

On the beautiful Cabot Trail, in North East Margaree is the Catholic Church of St. Patrick’s, built in 1871.  This is the second St. Patrick’s Church built on this site; the first being erected in 1842.

The bell in St. Patrick’s Church was the first to be installed in the valley and it was rung for the first time on St. Patrick’s Day in 1899.

Until 1837, St. Patrick’s was served by priests from St. Michael’s, Margaree.  In 1937, St. Patrick’s became a mission of St. Joseph’s, S.W. Margaree and remained one until July 1995.  At that time, St. Patrick’s and St. Joseph’s joined with St. Michael’s under one pastor stationed at St. Michael’s.

Fr. Eugene O’Reilly was the only resident priest at St. Patrick’s.  He came in 1858 and died the next year.  He is buried in St. Patrick’s cemetery.

In August 1971, celebrations were held to mark the hundredth anniversary of the Church.  Bishop William E. Power presided at an outdoor Eucharistic celebration.  A meal was served to all, followed by a dance.  For the celebration, John P. Murphy made tables and seats to accommodate those who came to eat at the hall.  An outdoor stage had been built, but rain forced parishioners and friends to celebrate inside.

Celebrations marking the one hundred twenty-fifth anniversary of St. Patrick’s were held in 1996.  Bishop Colin Campbell presided at an outdoor Eucharistic celebration and was joined by pastor Fr. Martin MacDougall, native son Fr. D. A. Doyle, and former pastors: Fr. Wm. DeCourcy, Fr. Tom Lathigee, Fr. D.A. MacDonald, and Fr. Edward MacIsaac

A tree to commemorate the Jubilee year 2000 was given to parishioners at the Diocesan Celebration June 17 in Sydney and was planted in the cemetery.


 

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