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Daily life moving to the rhythm of the bells

Old black and white photograph, a child and two couples, including a woman holding a baby, are exiting through the front doors of a church under construction.

First baptism at the Saint-Jean-Baptiste Catholic church in Dorion, 1949

Not only does the parish define the geographical territory of villages and neighborhoods, it is also the place where a community lives. Up until the middle of the 20th century, citizens related more to their parish than their municipality. Their sense of belonging stemmed from their longstanding relationship with the church.

For as long as they could remember, daily life was centered around the church. It was the gathering place for families, friends, and neighbors to celebrate everything from important religious holidays such as Christmas and Easter to weekly Sunday mass.

Old black and white photograph, in the foreground, a road, car and people walking on the sidewalk, in the background, a church steeple and presbytery.

Main road of the Saint-Télesphore village around 1936

Old colored photograph of an oval shape, long shot of a crowd posing for a photo in front of a small white and blue church.

First Catholic church of Saint-Ignace d’Antioche in Coteau-du-Lac, before 1908

Beyond its religious nature, the church also defined social and family moments. Up until recently in Catholic parishes, bells would sound off every hour of the day and also indicate seasonal work. Even today, they are heard at important life events such as births, weddings, and deaths.

Thus, the church is imprinted upon individual and collective memory. In addition to its physical presence, it bears an intangible dimension which is found in every parishioner’s life story.