St. Vincent de Paul Church – DeWitt’s Corners

St Vincent de Paul church

Summer in the country was a time for swimming in the Tay River, hanging out with friends at the millstone at Cavanagh’s general store, and regular bike rides up and down the Third Line.  There were farm tractors, hay-wagons, mothers outside hanging their washing on clotheslines, and daisies and black-eyed-Susans waving in the ditches, as I flew by on my old red bike.

old bike

I always passed by the familiar farms and houses along the way – Mitchell’s, Conboy’s, pedaled like lightning past Heney’s, so their dogs couldn’t catch me.  I continued past Radford’s, Siebel’s, Mitchell’s, Kerr’s, Closs’, heading up the Third Line toward Kyle’s, Perkins’ and Doyle’s when one day, something unusual caught my eye.

A stylish wedding party was entering St. Vincent de Paul Church; a bride in a flowing white gown, three bridesmaids dressed in pastel pink, carrying matching nosegays.  Several cars were parked outside, decorated with pink and white tissue flowers.  I pulled over to the side of the road to watch the procession. The old Catholic church had been around for as long as I could remember, and appeared as proud and majestic as ever on that hot summer day so long ago.

wedding couple   bridesmaids

The early settlers in Bathurst Township were keen to have their own church, instead of driving to St. John’s Church in Perth, or St. Bridget’s Church in Stanleyville.  Roads were treacherous at times in the winter, with deep snow, sometimes freezing rain, or both.

Long before St. Vincent de Paul Church was built, Roman Catholic services were held for 69 years, in the home of Mrs. Ed. Lee on the Third Line.

Mrs. Ed Lee

The people of Bathurst petitioned Bishop James Vincent Cleary for a church of their own. They needed a suitable, conveniently located place to erect a new church building.

John DeWitt, son of a pioneer settler, and his wife Mary Neil knew there was a need for a Roman Catholic Church to serve the growing community. Hoping to improve the situation, they made a promise to donate the land to build a church.

The paperwork was completed, and the land on lot 11, between the 2nd and 3rd concessions of Bathurst Township was donated by John and Mary DeWitt on July 26, 1889. To ensure that the transaction was legal, the land was sold for the token sum of one dollar to the Kingston Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church.

DeWitt deed


DeWitt deed part 2

The construction progressed quickly, and the first mass was held on November 23, 1889.  The church was packed that day, and this stately building has served generations of families around DeWitt’s Corners and the area for over 125 years and counting.

Pastors who have served St. Vincent de Paul:
Rev. T.P. O’Connor  1889-1899

Rev. John O’Brien – 1899-1901

Rev. J.H. McDonough – 1901-1912

Rev. P.J. Keaney – 1912-1917

Rev. J.J. Keeley – 1917-1926

Rev. J.V. Meagher – 1926-1928

Rev. L.B. Garvin – 1928-1934

Rev. Walter Whalen – 1934-1940

Rev. J.W. Callahan – 1940-1947

Rev. W.L. Terrion – 1947-1952

Rev. J.C. LeSage – 1952-1976

Father Karl Clemens – 1976 – 1983

Father Richard Whalen – 1983-1985

Father Liam Tallon  –  1985 – 1993

Father Karl Clemens (back) – 1993 – 1998

Father  Lindo Molon – 1998 – 2006

Father  Mark Ruckpaul   – 2006 – 2012

Father Aidan Dasaah – 2012 – 2014

Father Jan Kusyk – 2014 –



One of the weddings in the early days of St. Vincent de Paul Church – Henry Edmund Hagan, son of Hugh Hagan and Agnes Bennett, Westport, married Anna Victoria Jackman Hagan, daughter of John Jackman and Matilda Nagle, Wemyss, on 25 September 1918. Henry was 25 and Anna was 17.  (according to Richard Frizzell, their grandson on his mother’s side – ” Family history has it that she married so young in order to escape having to rear her 4 brothers and sisters after her mother passed away in 1916.”)

Hagan Jackman wedding jpg

St. Vincent de Paul wedding Richard Frizzell's maternal grandparents

According to their grandson, Richard Frizell, “Henry and Anna farmed up on the mountain in Westport until 1956 or 57. They sold the farm and moved to Glen Tay. They had 5 children; my mom, Vera, was the oldest girl.”


Father James Keeley St. Vincent de Paul

Father James Keeley – served St. Vicent de Paul from 1917-1926


Oct. 17, 1930 – visit from the Archbishop

June 26 1931

June 26, 1931 – Dance at DeWitt’s Corners


I recall that Father J.C. Le Sage was the Priest of the parish from 1952 through to 1976.  Fr. Le Sage was well-liked, and a good friend to many of the local parishioners.   He was known to be extremely intelligent, and it was widely believed that he had come from a very capable family.  He had a reputation for being an excellent business manager, and ensured that the Church was in good repair.

Father LeSage McNamee weddiing 1955

wedding of Peter and Mary McNamee – September 24th,  1955, with Father J.C. LeSage

During his time serving at DeWitt’s Corners he hired an exceptionally talented Dutch painter who cleaned and restored the wood ceiling of St. Vincent’s, and painted the interior of the building.  He was also instrumental in building a parish hall in Stanleyville (the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish Hall) to serve both parishes (St. Vincent de Paul in Dewitt’s Corners and St. Bridget’s in Stanleyville).  Because of his excellent fiscal management, the total costs for the new hall were paid off quickly. Along with Fr. Le Sage’s sound business sense, an active Catholic Women’s League helped to raise money for the church, and assist with local charities.

Rev. J.C. Le Sage

At the age of 67, Rev. Father LeSage suffered a heart attack at his home, near Stanleyville, and passed away on September 13, 1976.

Nov 4 1976 p 14 Fr. LeSage part 1Nov 4 1976 p 14 Fr. LeSage part 2Nov 4 1976 p 14 Fr. LeSage part 3


St. Bridget's sign


Dec 22 1977 p 8 Christmas St. V de P

December 22 1977 – ad for Christmas Eve Services

March 22 978 p 14 display ad Holy Week

March 22, 1978 – ad for Holy Week

In 1979 the parishoners from DeWitt’s Corners and Stanleyville, sponsored a family of seven ‘Boat People’, who had fled their homeland for Canada.

Aug 22 1979 The Boat People

August 22 1979 – sponsoring the ‘Boat People’

Sept 12 1979 picnic

September 12, 1979 – A picnic in Stanleyville

Nov 21 1979 St V de P complete

November 21, 1979 – St. Vincent de Paul Anniversary

Nov 21st 1979 special mass

November 21 1979 – special mass planned

Nov 28 1979 St V de P anniversary photo

November 28 1979 photos of St. Vincent de Paul anniversary celebrations

Dec 19 1979 Nativity Scene

December 19 1979 – Nativity Scene

Dec 19 1979 Junior Choir

December 19 1979 – Junior Choir

October 1 1980 Annual 40 Hours of Devotion

October 1, 1980 – Annual Forty Hours Devotion

March 11 1981 Shirley Scott

March 11, 1981 – Shirley Scott is new president of St. Vincent de Paul CWL

Dec 2 1981 CWL anniversary

December 2, 1981 – CWL Anniversary

October 20 1982 Guest Speaker

October 20 1982 Guest Speaker display ad
October 20, 1982 – Guest Speaker

August 17 1983 Farewell Mass

August 17, 1983 – Farewell Mass for Fr. Karl Clemens


St. Vincent de Paul, the pretty red brick church at DeWitt’s Corners, has served the community for well over a century.  Both residents and seasonal visitors from nearby cottages have found comfort and a sense of belonging, inside these stately walls.

June 8, 1983 - Summer Schedule

June 8, 1983 – Summer Schedule

Many weddings, christenings, and funerals have taken place over the past hundred years, and to those of us who grew up in this neighbourhood, St. Vincent de Paul will always remain a memorable place, in our hearts.


hands bible



photo of St. Vincent de Paul church c. 1970s, courtesy of JoAnne Cavanagh Butler
photo of wedding -Peter and Mary McNamee 1955 with Father LeSage – courtesy of Mary McNamee
photo of wedding – Henry Hagan, to Anna Jackman Hagan, and photo of Father Keeley- courtesy of Richard Frizell
(story is an excerpt from ‘Lanark County Classics: A Treasury of Tales from Another Time”)


LC Classics for bookmark

ISBN 978-0987-702654

Warm Scents of Cinnamon and Home


“Warm familiar scents drift softly from the oven,

And imprint forever upon our hearts

That this is home

and that we are loved.”

Sometimes I wondered how our neighbour George Korry, managed to concentrate on his farm chores when Mother was baking her sourdough cinnamon rolls.  If the wind was just right, I could smell them as soon as I stepped off of the school bus, on the Third Line. Even for the thirty seconds that it took to open the door, just long enough for me to exit the bus; I imagined that the sweet scent of cinnamon snuck its way on, and whetted the appetites of my friends from Glen Tay School.

school bus country road

I’m not sure why the sweet smells of Mother’s baking seemed more intense in the cool, fall air, but I followed the aroma up our lane-way, through the yard, and into the kitchen.  The kitchen was always warm and bright.  Maybe it was the cheerful wallpaper with the yellow accents, depicting images of copper cooking pots and kettles.  The oven light was on, as it often was, and there was a batch of cinnamon rolls, on the middle rack turning a beautiful shade of golden brown.


One batch of cinnamon rolls was already cooling on the metal rack on top of the freezer.  Beside it, was another rack with two loaves of bread, the long bread knife, and a small shallow dish of fresh butter keeping it company.  Decisions, decisions – which would I have for my after school snack?  The cinnamon rolls smelled delightful, but the fresh, warm bread and butter were giving the rolls some stiff competition.


I was almost too busy to notice that Mother was mixing some icing sugar, with a little dab of soft butter, a dash of vanilla,  a splash of warm water, and was mixing up a very thin, very lustrous icing.  She took a tablespoon,  scooped a bit from the bowl, and drizzled it over the cinnamon rolls.  The silky, white icing slid lazily down the sides of the warm rolls, and pooled at the bottom of the old china plate.

icing-bowl      cinnamon-roll-icing


“Would you like to try one?” she asked.  Well, no one had to ask me twice!  I turned around to the sideboard, grabbed one of the small melamine plates, and a fork from the cutlery drawer, and I eased one of the soft, fragrant rolls onto the surface.

“Don’t spoil your supper!” Mother warned, like she always did, smiling at the same time, glad to see that I was admiring her handiwork before plunging the fork into the roll.

I scooped up a bit and put it in my mouth.  The roll was warm, and the aroma of the cinnamon was stronger now, and tasted even more intense than it smelled.  The mixture of the brown sugar and butter in the creases of the roll, still heated from the oven, and the vanilla icing melted together in a rich, doughy taste sensation.



Looking back, I realize now that this was the thing that made the hardships of the long school day fade away.  It was the thing that made the long, dark days, and the cold weather easier to tolerate.  It wasn’t just the smells and tastes of the baking, but spending time in the bright, warm kitchen.  It was not so much something that you thought about, but it was something that you could feel.

It was having someone glad that you were home from school, and making something with love, for all to share. The sights and sounds and smells from our Mother’s kitchen are something we carry with us every day.  They lift our spirits in times when life seems cold, and harsh, and unforgiving.  We need only to close our eyes and we are back on the Third Line, walking up the lane, through the yard, and entering the bright, warm kitchen.  We are home again.










An excerpt from “Lanark County Calendar: Four Seasons on the Third Line

L C Calendar book cover

Recipe for Audry Stafford’s “Sour Dough Cinnamon Rolls” –
in “Recipes & Recollections: Treats and Tales from Our Mother’s Kitchen”

Recipes and Recollections book cover sept 2012


Recipes and Recollections Now Available in Local Book Stores


Recipes and Recollections Treats and Tales from Our Mother’s Kitchen is now available in three local book stores, Mill Street Books at 52 Mill Street in Almonte, Ontario,  The Bookworm at 76 Foster Street in Perth, and The Book Nook at 60 Gore Street E., in Perth, Ontario.

For over two decades Audry Stafford won countless baking competitions at the local fair in Perth, Ontario.  Because of her continued success over the years she was asked to become a Judge and she served in that capacity for many years at numerous county fairs throughout Eastern Ontario.

In this book her prize winning recipes are assembled for the first time, her fool proof never-fail pastry, decadent cookies, creamy rich fudge and her much sought-after rustic sour dough recipes, to name a few.

Audry and her husband Tim were serving in the Royal Canadian Air Force when they met and married in 1943.  After WWII, they purchased a farm on the third concession of Bathurst Township in Lanark County where they lived for almost five decades.

Join Audry’s five children as they take you back to a simpler time, growing up on a farm in the post-war years in rural Ontario.  Follow them through the seasons, from the maple syrup production in the spring to the all important fall harvest and even memories of their old fashioned country Christmas.

Recipes and Recollections is an unforgettable journey back in time, written for Audry’s grandchildren.  The stories will bring a smile to your face and the award winning recipes will delight your palate.