Excerpts from a...
History of the parish of Douglastown

This document was completed on the 5th of May, 1938...
For the beauty of public worship, Father Myles had a new organ put in the church and a choir of beautiful singers.
He being a wonderful singer himself, he soon began selecting and exercising the choir himself. The ancient singers of whom particular mention must be made are:
Mr. Jerome Morris and Mr. Robert Rehel (who) reasonably give up their places to Edmund Myles, Rupert Rooney, Robert Kennedy, Lorne Grant, William and Graham McDonald. Also many ladies, wonderful singers, have helped since years in the singing at church.

Jerome Morris

In 1923, the diocese was divided and Douglastown became a part of the new diocese of Gaspe'. On May 3, 1923, His Exel. Bishop Ross resided in Gaspe'.
In 1928 some repairs were needed at the Holy Rosary Convent and the Sisters left for some time and they were replaced by teachers.
In 1930, they came back and re-opened the Convent, much to the satisfaction of most all the people.
In 1933 a new wire fence was put around the graveyard, at the entrance was a gate and adorned at the top by the beautiful name "St. Patrick".

In the year 1934, Quebec commemorates the 400th anniversary of the arrival of Jacques Cartier from St. Malo, France, and plants a cross on the Gaspe' Shores. The people of Douglastown joined in the celebration held in Gaspe. The fishermen's boats, very many of them, all decorated sailed out the bay to meet and convey the Transatlantic "Champlain" into Gaspe' Basin.

The same year, 1934, the statues of our church were restored and nicely decorated by a special artist. St. Patrick looked as though he just came from Ireland.

At the close of a mission in 1934, a missionary preacher and our P.P. organized the Holy Name Society, about 150 men enrolled. This was a very beautiful ceremony, each man carrying a lighted candle, stood near the altar and recited aloud, their solemn promises. Every second Sunday of each month, there is a general communion for all the men of this Holy Name Society. No one else is admitted.

In 1935, a request was made to the authorities of the C.N.R. to have the station moved from the sand bar and placed in the village. In August of that year the request was granted. It was now at the foot of the hill and most convenient.

With the permission of Father Myles, a very nice concert by some of our young men and maidens was organized, and on Easter Sunday night in 1936, the actors and actresses appeared on a nicely decorated stage and rendered a most successful performance. We certainly must give credit to them. It was under the patronage of the Holy Name Society, in order to purchase a banner for the Holy Name. The greatest success crowned the good will of all a very generous amount of money was contributed by a large attendance.

1882 to 1907

The parish was advantageously progressing in agriculture and fishery as well as increasing in population.

In the month of October 1882, Revd. Gillis was appointed P.P. of Douglastown. That seemed the dawn of a better day. Father Gillis was born at St. Curnin in Scotland December 27, 1837, and ordained a priest at Paris April 7, 1867. He came to Rimouski at the request of Bishop Langevin who was in need of more priests for his diocese. Father Gillis was pastor here for 25 years. His principal work was the building of a convent of which he took great pains and obtained generous help from the Dominion Government. The Honorable Rudolph Lemieux was representative for the Gaspe county at the time and a more worthy man has never since been replaced.

That was in 1900 and now we are in 1930.
The convent in Douglastown, the building of the breakwater, the building of the railroad, as many other monuments throughout the county are all evidences of the many improvements under the Lemieux membership.

Father Gillis was termed in the province of Quebec, The Apostle of Education.

Father Gillis obtained from his wealthy friends abode generous donations - the building of his convent. It was completed in the summer of 1900 and blessed on August 26. The building 57'X31' and has a kitchen(24'X20').It is two story and has one stone foundation. The blessing of the convent was very solomnly presided over by the Bishop of Rimouski, Bishop Gautier of Kingston, Ontario, was also present, also 50 priests from different parishes and more than 2000 persons witnessed the ceremonies. The sisters of The Holy Rosary to whom the convent was dedicated were also present at this splendid ceremony.

The classes in the convent opened on September 1, 1900 to admit about 70 people. Revd Mother Mary of Calvary as first Superior. The first teachers were Mother Mary of Mercy, Mother Mary of Lourdes, Mother Mary St. Julie. At the same time the convent was blessed, a bell for the convent, weighing 100 pounds, was given from a former pastor, Father Farfard. The bell was christened by the name Mary Joseph.

Beloved Father Gillis lived in our midst for 25 years venerated and loved by all as a real Father.
He died on December 27, 1907. His remains rest peacefully under the altar of the St. Patrick's church with a magnificent marble slab. The same dedicated by Sir Wilfred Laurier, Prime Minister of Canada and our worthy representative in the House of Commons. At Ottawa, R. Lemieux inscribed on his tomb "Transit Benefaciend" and it is true. His memory is and shall be dear forever to those who have the pleasure of knowing him.

1907 to 1921 Revd Father Gauthier on the second Sunday of January 1908 came to replace Father Gillis. Father Gauthier was parish priest in Gaspe' village for many years. Although of Acadian descent, Father Gauthier has a strong veneration for the Irish as the feast of his ordination is on March 17th. His 25th anniversary was celebrated on St. Patrick's Day and a large banquet was held in his honor.

It was during the years of Revd Gauthier's stay amongst us that was begun and completed the building of the railroad taken over by the government C.N.R. The station was built on the sand bar. A large iron bridge was built over the tickle and on August 5, 1909 the first engine moved on towards Gaspe.

The regular train came right through for the first time in 1913, a rejoicement to all, as it put us much nearer to the outside world.
One of the first foremen on the railroad was Richard Keiler, a Scotchman by birth, he became a Catholic in Douglastown in 1909 and made his first communion in the Convent Chapel of The Holy Rosary Convent.

Returning to Father Gauthier, he was a great preacher and did much good to keep his faithful in firm piety.
In 1921, he became very ill and had to be taken to the hospital.
1921 to 1926 Father G. E. Myles.

In 1921 Revd Father Myles, a Gaspesien by birth and of Irish descent came to Douglastown as parish priest. He was at that time and had been for five years previous parish priest at Mont Joli, one of the most important parishes in the Rimouski diocese, replacing there his Lordship R.R. Leonard, who was consecrated Bishop of Rimouski.

Father Myles arrived on November 6. It was a stormy day and besides old Harry, a very slow old horse owned by Mr. Xave Kennedy, and a slow old driver, no one else was there to meet and greet the new priest. In a few days the presbytery was conveniently fitted up, in the meantime lodging with Mrs. Xave Kennedy, Father Myles soon became acquainted with his Irish faithful and very soon understood that better days were drawing for the improvement of the parish and the welfare of all. Full of zeal.

17 Appendix Personages of note born in Douglastown.

Father Elias Morris, son of James Morris and Agnes Rooney who was many years parish priest at Fox River. He was a great singer and musician, a real descendent of the Irish Minstrals of Erin.

Father Owen Kennedy son of Michael Kennedy and Anastasia Connick, P.P. of Cartier, Ontario.

Brother Thomas Girard, Oblite in Mission City, British Columbia, son of Alexander Girard and Mildred Morris.

Brother Robert Finn of the Sacred Heart Community of Athabaska, Quebec, son of Patrick Finn and Beatrice White.

Sister Margaret Kennedy, daughter of Michael Kennedy and Mary Condon. Congregation of Notre Dame, Montreal.

Brother Lester Grant - Ottawa, son of Albert Grant and M. Maloney.

Sister Mary St. Bridget - Holy Rosary Convent, daughter of William Rooney and Catherine Rahel.
Name - Grace Sister St. Patrick, Mary Ann Maloney, daughter of Archibald and Dora McDonald.

Sister Mary of St. Clarence and Sister Mary of St. Gabriel - Vivian and Louisa Bond, daughters of Thomas and Nora Morris.

Sister Mary of St. Bertha, Sybil Gaul - daughter of Malcam Gaul and Bertha Morris.

The population of our parish is 11 099.

In 1928 Father Myles established the mission of Bois Brule, having a part of the school house prepared for a chapel, once a month the people have a mass celebrated at their mission to have the advantages of performing the Devotion of Confession and Communion.

The last lines completed from 1775 to 1928, between 1928 and 1936 not many changes of note to record to the happenings of our parish. A butter factory and a cooperation society was organized, but through errors and financial failures, both were abandoned. We have up-to-date roads now from Montreal to Gaspe, a wonderful trade. Grand hotels and restaurants open at early season and are operated many months. We have graders, tractors, buses, and all up-to-date conveniences for speed and comfort.

Time Marches On ..... And has brought us to 1937 to 1938.

I come to relate a few items that has happened.

We have now in our parish a new rectory, a handsome new structure fire proof or supposed to be, as it is made of brick and asbestos. The building is modern. It is fitted out with hot and cold water sustem, electricity, furnace, a modern heating system and everything for comfort. I cannot record the cost of this structure because sufficient today no statistical account up to date - May 17, 1938, has been given.

There has also during the past year been erected a parochal or theatrical hall, also modern and up-to-date. Since Easter Monday April 17, 1938, motion pictures are showing every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. They are very good. This is evening entertainment. Of this hall I cannot record the cost for it is not known. The $24,000 savings of the Fabrique for many years has been expended on the labor and building of rectory and hall. Both buildings were erected without the consent of some of the rate payers who pay the highest tax. The majority in favor were those who receive relief. Many were in favor of building a new church of which we are very much in need as our old church will soon be a thing of the past. The ruins of the poor old church is now faillng. The actual church wardens for 1937 to 1938: Michael McDonald, Daisgaie Roberts and Anthony Element re-elected for 1938.

A few lines more about driving the mail and post office.

In the early days there was no roads in Gaspe Peninsula, only a trail through the forest along the sea shore and the journey from place to place was tiresome as I have heard the old folks say.

I have been told that the first post office was in Carleton, 1796. The mail would come once a year from Fredericton, N.B. and in 1805 somewhere in the Bay of Chaleur there was a post office kept by J.B. Mann.

Next came Gaspe service and the post office Henry Johnson was in charge. In 1829 he was living in Douglastown and in 1829 matters got better and the mail for Bay of Chaleur and Gaspe came three times a year.

Before that, letters were sent by vessels or schooners going from Quebec to Gaspe and Bay of Chaleur.

This service was unsatisfactory, so John LeBoutillier applied for a regular postal service between Bay of Chaleur and Gaspe. Archibals Kerr was the first mail contractor in Gaspe Peninsula. He and his sons used to take the mail from Port Daniel to Dalhousie. At Port Daniel the courier from Gaspe met the ones from the West, like others, on snow-shoes in winter. The usual trip per day was from Port daniel to Perce; 50 miles distance. Going up the St. Lawrence River out to the shore via river. From Gaspe to Quebec the mail was carried on snowshoes.

One of the earliest couriers was Edward Synnett, he made the journey through the winter 104 years ago. Once he made a journey in one day - 54 miles from Magdalen River to Griffin Cove, he and an Indian. The Indian gave out, but the white man struggled on alone.

The couriers often had to take shelter in camps and shacks.

Their wages in them days was paid by by the merchants from Gaspe to Port Daniel. Nicolas Mullin, one of the old mail carriers, took a month in the winter to go from Gaspe to Port Daniel. In 1839, Benjamen Patterson contracted to carry the mail from Gaspé to Port Daniel making the journey in eight days. Most of the way, the only path was along the seashore;when the Indian trail was through the woods, it was no more than 3 feet wide, and no bridges over the rivers.

There were no stamps or envelopes: the price was stamped on the letter which was folded and sealed secure. When you received a letter you had to pay the price stamped which varied from 30 to 60 cents for old country letters.

The mail contract from Gaspe to Perce from 1851 to 1872 was carried over night at the home of my Grand-dad, Isaac Kennedy.
The property now owned by Austin Kennedy. Patterson was succeeded by Tapp and Leggo.

The driving of the mail has had many changes. Finally in 1911 one daily mail now of 15 and 20 sacks is heavier than the twice monthly mail of the olden day.

Post Masters of Douglastown:
Henry Johnson
Charles Veit Sr.
Louis Bosse
Charles Veit Jr.
Fred Kennedy
Mrs. Dupuis
Isaac Kennedy
Edward Trachy
Leo Kennedy .

Many years ago those holding government jobs was controlled by changes of politics. Liberal or Conservative usually when the candidate for whom an elector voted, he would try to obtain and retain a position for a supporter of the party he represented But in the present age, civil service committee controls the change of positions such as: light keeper, customs, collectors, postmasters, etc.

In the case of the postmaster, especially here in Douglastown with reference to change of postmasters be it well remembered the retaining of the post office here in 1935 was entirely controlled by Knights of Columbus and Holy Orders. Politics was cast aside, ignored, and the present postmaster Leo Kennedy is retained by personal favor and that alone.

Many years ago, a militia was formed in the counties of Gaspe and Bonaventure. In Company Division No. 7 was Captain Lieutenant James Kennedy, grand uncle of Austin and Mathilda Kennedy and great grand uncle of Allan, Clarabel and Sybil Kennedy, children of Austin Kennedy and Mary Condon.

The first merchant of Douglastown was William Kennedy who kept a small supply of provisions for the fishermen who came here for the summer months.

Second as I have been told was a Jew, Sanders also about the same time was Davis, another Jew both from Quebec. They did the wholesale trade and had their establishment where Charles and Xave Kennedy's old stores stand now.

Next came Linsday and Stephens who took all the customs from the Jews.

In between, I forgot to mention Charles Veit who had been a musician in some military band in the British Army.
He came here with his wife Mary Morris from Quebec.
They came here with a small stock of bug infested goods, bought a small portion of land, lived for some time in a stable hired from Peter Briand or commonly called Pierre. There the first child Fred was born.

Viet, being a thrifty, saving German, rapidly with the help of his saving wife, financially advanced. Soon they had a large business and possessed quite alot of property. Strong wines and liquors was commonly sold in them days to customers, thereby helped to swell the coffers, however honest or otherwise. Veit soon became very rich, settled his sons and daughters comfortably, but today the name is only mentioned as Veit Place, not one remains.

Coming back to the Linsays and Veit, they also came here possessing very little, but soon became wealthy land owners. But Stevens, losing his health, was obliged to retire. Lindsay continued a large wholesale business, dying at an early age of, cancer. The business fell into the hands of his son Robert, who carried on for awhile. He also died at an early age. The family moved to Gaspe, the home of Mrs. Robert Lindsay who was a Lowndes. Today there is only Charles, son of Robert. The stand once owned by Veit is owned by Kennedy Bros., Clarence and Patrick. The stand once owned by Lindsay is owned by the sons of C. & X. Kennedy and one of the stores is rented to James Morris, brother in law of C. & L. Kennedy.

At the present day we have three merchants. J. H. Rooney wholesale business and dealer in pulp. Kennedy Bros. who do the same business. All three are doing very good business. J. H. Morris also own a saw mill operated only in summer but he runs lumber camps in winter employing a small number of men to cut and handle lumber during the early winter months. The sawing of that lumber during summer months also gives employment to a few men.

Employment and occupation for labourers is scarce. There are no steady jobs and no industries. Still all considered, Douglastown is the most independant village in the county. The people are thrifty and saving.

In autumn of 1937 there was quite a few dollars earned by some in the Christmas tree 21 business the same companies are coming again in the fall of 1938. Many thousands of trees are cut and shipped by railway to different parts of the U.S.A.

Just at present there is the fir balsam business many now are occupies in picking and sending away fir balsam, which is also a good paying job.

The people of Douglastown certainly avail themselves of every opportunity to make and save money. During the long winter months here many of the women and girls are occupied by making hooked rugs. Some very handsome ones, those rugs are on display in the antique shops of Mrs. Fred Gaul and Miss Marie Kennedy. Many of these rugs are sold to rich American tourists, some of them are sold as high as $12.00, of course the antique dealer collects a commission on each sale.

I also have been told that Mrs. Ralph Gaul of Ralph's Beach also Top 0'The Hill are two of the up-to-date restaurants opened here for the summer, but coming season 1938 Top O'The Hill will be only an ice cream parlor and gas station.

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