May 28, 2015

Although congregants gathered last year to mark the 170th birthday of St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Railton, the Catholic community in Southern Frontenac County has been anchored by St. Patrick's since 1832.

At that time, Lawrence Raile sold 6 acres off of the 200 acre property he had purchased in 1824 to the Right Reverend Alexander MacDonnell, the Very Reverend William P. McDonald, and V.G and Walter Mcunniffe, all of Kingston, who acted as Trustees of the Roman Catholic Church of Loughborough, for the sum of 8 pounds. A stone church was built at that location, and became the place of worship for the Irish Catholic immigrants who were beginning to establish farms in the surrounding region.

The church has always served the communities of Sydenham and Harrowsmith, and it was common for Catholic Churches to be located a few miles away from Village Centres, to avoid potential conflicts with other denominations, it is unclear why the location in Railton was chosen, although it's location on the 'Nine Mile Road' – the County Road between Kingston and Sydenham now known as Sydenham Road, would have been a factor. Although there are no existing descriptions of the first church at Railton, it's location was between the present church and the parish house that is located a few metres to the south. The original cemetery was located to the rear, and was eventually after the new Cathedral was built in the 1850's, partly because the soil was not deep enough.

In 1845 Father Pendergast, who had begun his association with “Loborough, Camden, Mill Creek (Odessa), Portland, and Sheffield” in 1844, presided over the blessing and erection of the Stations of the Cross on Sunday March 23rd, and that is the date that was celebrated as the anniversary of the church.

A number of Reverend's were appointed as pastor over the next 12 years. The Reverend Michael Clune came on in 1855, and it was during his tenure that the present church was built.

“A receipt dated dated November 17, 1857, was issued for a consideration of 500 pounds, a stone church 40 feet wide and 60 feet long and 26 feet high, to be complete according to plans and specifications of the Catholic Church, the church to be completed by November 1st, 1858.” - Built on a Rock, The story of the Roman Catholic Church in Kingston, 1826 – 1976.

It was in the late 1840's that the mass migration of Irish Catholics took place, during what is known as the potato famine. A number of families who survived the deadly passage to Canada, made their way somehow to South Frontenac, and began to build their lives in Loughborough.

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