History of St Isidore Church Kanata

Catholic church kanata

March Township in Ontario (present day Kanata North) was first settled in 1820 and became a thriving and active community of rural believers, filled with optimism. In this small rural area, the Catholic Community would erect the original log chapel (38′ x 23′) of the township (“Mission of March”) in 1836. The chapel (enlarged in 1850), still very remote from fledgling Ottawa, would serve the community with neighbouring and travelling clergy until the turn of the century. In 1887, four years after being renamed to St. Isidore, the log chapel would give way to the present day stone church, located on the current-day site. The old log chapel is removed in Winter 1888 at a cost of $55, and the new church would cost almost $6,000, architected by Canon, M. Bouillon. The new church is to be of plough stone, more or less double the size of the log chapel, with 30-foot high side walls. The sacristy would also be of stone, 30′ x 20′. It is blessed by Archbishop Joseph Thomas Duhamel of Ottawa on October 9, 1887. A 740-pound bell is added to the steeple of the church. The bell is blessed by Archbishop Duhamel and erected in 1891.

Current – St Isidore Church built in 1887
St. Isidore Church – circa 1930

The following years would see St. Isidore Parish and the surrounding community grow steadily. The originally donated 2-acre piece of land was expanded with the purchase of 6 additional acres (1 acre circa. 1887 and 5 more in 1898). Plans were underway to construct a rectory beside the church and establish the cemetery on this land. The rectory is completed a year later. The same year (1899), the original debt to build the present-day church is fully paid off.

Rev. Thomas Brownrigg is appointed the first residing pastor of the renamed St. Isidore Church in 1900.

The third and longest serving pastor of St. Isidore, Rev. John Cunningham, is appointed in 1915.

St. Isidore’s fourth pastor, Rev. Philip C. Harris, would oversee significant enhancements to the church and rectory starting in 1934. The memorial stained glass windows which grace our church today are mounted and indoor plumbing is installed in the rectory.

The next round of major renovations would not occur until 1966 when the church interior is changed to conform to the new liturgy and language changes made under Vatican II. No longer would the priest face away from the congregation, chanting in Latin to an ornate high altar. Now the Mass would be said in the local language and the people would be expected to participate in the liturgy by responding audibly and singing where appropriate. The high altar and communion rail were removed, new platforms were built and confessionals added to the back of the church and removed from the sacristy. The total cost of the renovations amounted to $65,000. Sunday masses were held in St. Isidore School until renovations were completed in 1967.

The present-day church hall is built and opened in 1979 behind the church to service the community. Rev. C. Ross Finlan, the only pastor to serve two separate, non-continuous terms, is appointed in 1982. Fr. Finlan would again return to St. Isidore’s in 2003.

Fr. Raymond Burke donates 2 acres of additional land behind the church around the time of his death in 1990.

The church hall sees major renovations and upgrades in the late 1980’s and again in 2004.

In the late 1990’s, discussions begin on meeting the parallel requirements of aging facilities and the dramatic population expansion in the immediate area. Kanata North and surrounding areas are growing at a record pace.

An Expansion Task Force, led by Deacon Desmond Adam, is created and an extensive planning process results, with an emphasis on parishioner communication and involvement. In 2006, the parish continues the process of redeveloping the church by engaging Ralph Vandenberg, a local architect.

The present-day building now over 120 years old, incurs very high maintenance costs and no longer meets the modern day requirements for building amenities. Repairs are made to the oil furnace equipment after major malfunctions, forcing the parish to hold services in the church hall for several months in the winter of 2009. For safety reasons, the steeple of St. Isidore Church is removed on May 19, 2009. The church bell is also removed.

In 2008, the City of Ottawa receives an application to deem St. Isidore Church a “heritage” building. After a year-long process, this application is abandoned by Ottawa City Council on June 10, 2009, by way of a vote of 18 to 5 against, paving the way for further work to be completed on plans for a new building.

Plans are drawn and after much analysis, the parish community votes to build a ‘new’ church on the site and remove the original building at an approximate cost of $4.5 million. The new church will incorporate the stained glass windows, the bell, much of the original stone and a replica steeple of the 123-year-old church. The new, and third edition, of St. Isidore Church, is expected to be ready for the parish community by Christmas, 2011.