Location and Village History:
Village of Crysler is located in Finch Township, at the north-west corner
of Stormont County in Eastern Ontario. The South Nation River which
meanders through the fertile fields of the region is very likely what
prompted the pioneers to settle in the area. The village gets its name
from Ralph Crysler. He came to settle in Crysler in 1865 with his wife
Sarah H., whose maiden name is not known. He was the son of the famous
Colonel John Crysler, who in 1779, at the age of 12, was the drummer boy
at the battle of Buttler's Rangers. As a reward for his loyalty to England
he was granted 60,000 acres of land. He was also Colonel of the militia
during the battle of Crysler's Farm on November 11, 1813.
land grant stretched from the St. Lawrence River to Crysler. His son Ralph
inherited lot 12, concession 10, which is where Crysler is now located.
those days, the local economy was driven by the logging industry. The
forest was a rich natural resource providing winter work for settlers. In
spring the log drives were an economical way of transporting timber to
large urban centres. Log drivers would float the logs on the South Nation
River from Crysler to the Ottawa River and then on to Bytown, the biggest
market for wood.
first dam was constructed in 1808 and rebuilt out of wood in 1895.
Crysler built a flour mill which was powered by water falling over a large
bridge built in 1885 in Crysler linked the two banks of the South Nation
River for the first time. This early bridge was destroyed by the spring
flood of 1886 and was replaced by a steel bridge in 1890.
and more settlers came to Crysler. The newcomers were predominantly
anglophone of Irish and Scottish descent. These were later joined by a
number of francophone settlers, some from Embrun, but most from the
Montreal area. The anglophones lived on the north bank, while the
francophones settled the south shore.
order to accommodate all members of the community, Mr. Crysler donated
parcels of land for three churches, one Catholic, one Anglican and one
Lady of the Rosary Parish:
history of this parish goes back to 1870. In the beginning it was called
St. Mary's Mission of St. Andrew's Parish in Cornwall Township, Diocese of
Kingston. It was known by this name until 1873 when it became the Mission
of Finch and Roxborough. The name Our Lady of the Rosary came later still.
construction of the Catholic church started in 1868. The structure was a
mere 40 feet by 60 feet (12.2 X 18.3 metres) and took six years to be
completed. A small altar and sixty pews were installed during the advent
of our first parish priest, Reverend Thomas Sprat. The date inscribed on
the cornerstone is May 4, 1870. The first Mass was celebrated September
22, 1870. The parish consisted of thirty-three French, Irish and Scottish
Sprat stayed for only one year and was replaced by the Reverend Charles
Duffus on July 16, 1874. Father Duffus obtained a building lot just north
of the church and built a brick presbytery. When he left on June 24, 1879,
the presbytery was almost completely paid off. At this time, a cemetery
was established behind the church.
William M. Fox bought a new church bell. It was blessed and baptized Mary
Catherine. He also renovated the altar.
first episcopal visit took place in 1882 and the second in 1885. On the
second visit by the Bishop of Kingston, the Most Reverend James Vincent
Cleary, 221 parishioners were confirmed. The Bishop spoke first in English
and then delivered a sermon in French. On this occasion he also ordered
the construction of a new church. The original church did not have a firm
foundation and the walls seemed dangerously unstable. Fearing for the
safety of the parishioners, he strongly urged that quick action be taken.
John Towney was named parish priest for the years 1889-1891. On August 1,
1889, it was announced that the parish was now part of the Alexandria
Diocese which included Stormont and Glengarry counties.
new cemetery was established on Lafreniere (Swale) Road and was blessed in
September, 1896. Angelina Godard, daughter of Joseph Godard and Louise
Chartrand was the first to be buried in this cemetery. Father William
McKinnon was the parish priest at the time.
Way of the Cross was set up in the old church on October 1, 1898.
cornerstone of the new church was blessed and laid on July 11, 1899.
Inside it were placed an historical record of the event, copies of
newspapers of the time, several coins, and engravings of the Bishop, His
Lordship Right Reverend Alexander Macdonnell. The Service held on Sunday
September 10, 1899, was the last held in the old church, as the work of
removal began the following day.
the new church was ready, a temporary chapel in the Sacristy basement was
used for the celebration of Mass, baptisms, weddings and funerals.
first Mass celebrated in the new church proper was that of Easter on April
15, 1900. The new church was officially blessed on May 1, 1900. The first
marriage celebrated in the new church proper was that of John Beehler and
Bridget Anastasia McCadden on April 30, 1900. The first to be baptized
there was Joseph Ernest Omega Hebert on May 6,1900. The first funeral was
held on July 27, 1900 for Rosalba Dubois, wife of Theophile Lapalme.
Father Donald R. Macdonald was the parish priest at the time of the
construction and inauguration of the new church; he was pastor from 1898
church was, for the first time, lighted by electricity on the evening of
Christmas, December 25, 1905. This was
inauguration of the use of electric light in Crysler. Joseph Bishop and
Son had established a lighting plant in their new flour mill.
Terence Fitzpatrick stayed in Crysler for one year from 1906 to 1907. His
successor, Father Michael J. Leahy came to Crysler in 1907 and remained
for twenty-four years, until 1931. His parishioners held him in great
esteem and he is even buried in the parish cemetery.
J. Henri Bougie served the parish from 1931 to 1944, followed by Father J.
Albert Goulet from 1944 to 1954. Parish priests were staying for longer
periods which added stability to the parish
the church - 1954
1954 the church was in need of renovation. Father Bernard Guindon had the
ceiling repaired. Paintings were added as well as an automatic oil
May 26, 1960, the Bishop of Alexandria, the Most Reverend Rosario Brodeur,
presided over the consecration of the church. Authentic relics of St. Paul
and St. Philip Neri were placed in a silver chest along with documents
attesting the authenticity of the relics, the official record of the
consecration of the church and a few medals and coins. The chest was
sealed in the sepulchre of the main altar.
1962 Mrs. Herman Lehoux gave Father Rheal Gagnon, the parish priest at the
time, the idea of converting the sacristy into a funeral parlour. This
would make life easier for the people of Crysler by providing them this
service in their own village. Sadly, the first person to be waked in
Crysler was Mrs. Lehoux's own husband.
1963 Father Rheal Gagnon also decided to make some renovations to the
inside of the church. The main altar and the side altars, dating back to
the beginning of the century, were replaced by altars made of natural
wood. The organ was installed in the front of the church and the Mass
which up until then had been sung in Latin now began to be said in English
further addition was a large illuminated cross in front and to the right
of the present church to commemorate the site of the first church. The
cemetery behind the church was closed down and the land was loaned to
Notre-Dame-du- Saint- Rosaire school.
Gagnon had a dynamic personality. He helped organize the first Winter
Carnival, loved to participate in cultural activities and even wrote
Bernard Guindon returned for five more years, until 1975. Then Father
Roger Desrosiers served as parish priest from 1975 to 1977. Father Fernand
Brazeau, C.S. V., then took over until his death in 1980.
J. Roch Bougie, C.S.V., be- came our Pastor in 1980 and remained until
1993. Father Bougie loved maple syrup season. With the help of several
volunteers, he collected sap from a number of local maple trees. Having
produced a fair amount of maple syrup, he decided to organize a sugar bush
brunch in the spring. He provided the maple syrup while volunteers
prepared the meal. This activity not only added considerably to the church
coffers, but also provided a fine opportunity for people to gather for a
Father Claude G. Thibault served
the parish from 1993 to 1999. Father Thibault, a young and active priest,
became very involved with his parishioners whom he inspired in many ways
to participate in the life of the parish. His exuberance and joy of living
were infectious. He worked on preparing the events for the 125th
anniversary of the parish, one of those being a special Mass which was
televised on Radio-Canada (CBC) last February. Father Thibault commenced
the activities needed to embark on a very important event: the renovation
of the church.
2nd church, 125th anniversary in 1995
our church in 1995
Since 1999, Father Marc Piché
has been our pastor. Father
Piché, another young and active priest, is actively involved with many
parish activities. In 2000,
Father Piché took to completion the renovation project commenced by
Father Thibault. During the summer of 2000, the parishioners met in the
gymnasium of the village school. On
Saturday September 16th 2000 we celebrated the first mass in the newly renovated
church and on October 7th 2000 the Bishop, the Most Reverend P. LaRoque, presided over
the official inauguration of the renovated church.
and the Arrival of the Holy Cross Sisters:
log structure built in January 1876 behind the Catholic church was
Crysler's first Catholic separate school.
1922 a new school was built to accommodate 101 students. This one was
larger, containing four classrooms and two corridors. It opened at the
same time as the Sisters moved into our community. On an invitation from
The Crysler School Board, the Holy Cross Sisters came to take over the
teaching at the Catholic school. They arrived on August 29, 1922 and took
up temporary residence in the presbytery while their convent was being
built. They moved into their new home on September 2, 1922.
village school was destroyed by fire on March 1, 1941. It was rebuilt
immediately through the generosity of the Ministry and the taxpayers. This
third school was very up to date, with electricity, central heating and a
good ventilation system. It was ready to accept students on December
9,1941. The school we have today was built in 1959-1960. It was very
avant-garde for its time since it had a gymnasium, a kindergarten as well
as other facilities for teachers and the principal. An addition was built
in 1965 and the old two story schoolhouse was torn down in 1966, providing
more room in the school yard for the students. From 1924 until 1967 even
grades 9 and 10 were taught in the parish school.
of decreasing numbers in their order, the Holy Cross Sisters decided to
leave the parish. Despite the many protests from the members of the parish
and various community groups, they moved out at the end of June 1967.
205 students attend the Crysler school.
Village and the Community Today:
village, well known for its famous floods of 1907, 1938, 1950 and 1976,
now has a dike along the south side of the South Nation River and around
the buildings east of Queen Street. The dike was built in 1984 and since
then the spring floods have had no severe effect on the village.
bridge built in 1890 was replaced by a steel structure in 1935 and again
in 1975 by a structure supported by concrete
number of businesses in the village has significantly decreased with one
closing after another for various
Most often, businesses burned down and were never rebuilt. In some
cases outside companies bought out existing businesses to cut down on
competition. As the number of businesses decreased so did the number of
jobs available in Crysler and people were forced to look for work in other
locations. Several members of the business community, however, have
loyally remained at their post. We wish them continued success for many
years to come.
Quicker and more efficient means of transportation have made it easier
for people to commute to work outside the area. As a result, we are
tending to become a bedroom community for the city of Ottawa.
one time there were many small farms of 80 to l00 acres. Most of these
have gradually been sold to larger agricultural enterprises. In an
area that was once almost entirely dependent on farming, the proportion of
farmers among the population has dramatically decreased.
80% predominantly francophone majority and the anglophones get along very
well in a climate of good will and mutual respect.
Crysler is now in the process of
creating a new image. A new water and sewage system is installed in the
village bringing with it the possibility of economic renewal. An apartment
block for seniors has been built and we look forward to the emergence of
new businesses that will provide employment for our young people.
We are now well into the new
millennium. What does the future hold in store for us? We have celebrated
more than 125 wonderful years of history. A fine heritage. Now it's up to
us to make sure that it's only the beginning.
1995 & Mai 2001
text was written by Denise Bourdeau (and translated by Bianca Sherwood) using the following references:
par Gilberte Farley, Diane Legault, Thérèse Papineau et Carole Prévost;
de l'historique de la paroisse,
Juliette Champagne ;
par Mme Rosa Lafrance;
soeurs de Sainte-Croix dans la montée avec les franco-ontariens,
Hélène Bériault,c.s.c. ;
History of Finch Townships,
Teachers of Finch Township;