Here is a little story of the first things in religion at Richmond as related by Senator Haydon in his story of “Richmond and the Duke.” “The government early In 1819, redeemed its promise of providing a schoolmaster and or erecting a schoolhouse, and a man named Read took up the duties with the distinction of being the first teacher in what is now the County of Carleton, at a salary of 50 per annum, paid by the government.
The expense accounts of the settlement indicate that from the 25th of September, 1820, Stephen Eynough succeeded i to the charge, and when soon after government aid was withdrawn, he continued, with the help of the settlers, in charge of the school as best he could under the conditions of the time. Incidentally it may be added that while still a young man his death in Richmond gave occasion for the first Masonic funeral in the county.
For some thirty years his life was devoted to the missions of Upper Canada, and the Roman Catholic families in and around Richmond were immediately gathered under his care. His visits were few, for in January, 1819, he was nominated Vicar-Apostolic of Upper Canada, and consecrated on the last day of December, 1820, continuing however, to reside for many years at St. Raphael’s, in Glengarry. Father Heron came periodically until 1825 or 1826, when the first Roman Catholic church was erected.
Methodism found its way also to the settlement. The itinerant missionary, travelling about on horse back or on foot, amid the swamps and rocks of the Bathurst district, and along “gulleys” and bush trails an exhausting and distressing round of duty brought his message “without any authority but the Bible and no distinction save the Cross.” Such was the service of the Rideau Circuit by this denomination, till the later coming of a permanent preacher, Ezra Healey tall and commanding, with “a strong, clear, musical reverberating voice of such great compass that it could as easily command the ears of an assembly of five or six thousand as of half-a-dozen, and who used to say his lungs would last as long as his legs.
The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts did not respond so readily, and the church life of the community was not so carefully cultivated, especially, at least, by the Church of England, as was the declared intention at the outset. The first church services in the settlement were the masses sung by the Rev. Father Macdonnell, and one who came to the soldier settlers with great acceptance. For in 1794 he had raised as a Catholic Corps the “Glengarry Fencible” or, “British Highland Regiment.” Moreover, none better than he knew the hopes and fears of those to whom he carried the church’s message. He had himself been a leader in a pioneer movement in 1803, and was instrumental in having the British government settle in the County of Glengarry the men of the Glengarry Regiment, with their wives and children.
The earliest resident minister of any faith was the Rev. Mr. Glen, a Presbyterian, and in the little cemetery of that church near the village two elm trees mark his resting place. No services of the Established Church were regularly held until the arrival of the Rev. Michael Harris, in Perth, to the autumn of 1819, and he, like Father Macdonnell, became for years the spiritual guide of all the outlying settlements j and hamlets all over the district. He performed the first marriage in the settlement, when Jane Campbell became the bride of Sergeant John Dunbar.
Indeed, the village of Richmond was a rather flourishing town for more than half a dozen years, at least before Bytown, the forerunner of Ottawa, began to take shape at the beginning of the construction of the Rideau Canal in 1826. Richmond was planned upon a generous scale. There were grants of two, four and six acres each for the residence of the clergy, for the church and for the graveyard of each of three “established” churches the Anglican, Presbyterian, and Roman Catholic, no “dissenters” being deemed worthy. Six acres were left for a “park,” and the school was constructed. The town-hall is there today.
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Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun and theSherbrooke Record and and Screamin’ Mamas (USACome and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place. Tales of Almonte and Arnprior Then and Now.