Salaberry-de-Valleyfield’s heritage will soon see one of its places of worship disappear when St. Mark’s Anglican parish ends its activities.
St. Mark’s parish was part of the Anglican diocese of Montréal which decided to bring its activities to an end following a meeting with some local representatives.
According to Archdeacon and Vicar General of the diocese, Robert Camara, this decision was made due to the significant decrease in church attendance as well as the cost of maintenance. « The lack of resources both financial and human became too great to continue activities in Valleyfield, » indicated Camara.
The English community in Valleyfield has declined considerably in recent decades. Dennis Haworth, one of the last representatives of the community talked about this subject and recalled his childhood on Gault St. across from the church. « In the winter, my brother Russell and I would play hockey until 9 o’clock when the bell rang and it was time to go to class. »
Haworth confirmed that St. Mark’s church was now attended by a handful of parishioners. Services have been conducted by celebrants from other parishes since the departure of Reverend Odette Perron. According to Haworth, there are only about a dozen people left of the original English community in Valleyfield all of whom are getting up in age. « Many left Valleyfield to work and live elsewhere, others married Francophones, » he noted.
The transformation from denominational school boards to linguistic boards also contributed to the decline. Most of the students attending Gault Institute today, the school next to the church, speak as much French as English.
There are still active Anglican churches within the region, particularly in the Haut-Saint-Laurent including Christ Church in Franklin, Trinity Church in Havelock, St. Paul’s in Hinchinbrooke (Herdman), St. John’s in Huntingdon and St. James in Ormstown.
St. Mark’s Anglican church in Valleyfield was originally constructed in 1896, about 15 years after the first United Church was built; where the MUSO is currently located. In December 1961, St. Mark’s was destroyed by fire and was completely rebuilt the following year.
In addition to the remaining vestiges of English heritage in the city, such as the MUSO, the former Presbyterian church (1925) which will soon be a restaurant, Gault Institute and the row houses in the neighbourhood, there is also a cemetery with some 1 250 graves. Dennis Haworth, who is responsible for maintaining the site is discouraged to see that some of the tomb stones continue to be vandalized.
A last service will be celebrated on Sunday, December 2 in St. Mark’s church. As for the future of the building, Archdeacon Robert Camara stated that there was nothing planned as yet while a prospective buyer might show an interest.
(Translated by Cathleen Johnston)