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The Macdonalds and Their Attachment to St. Bartholomew’s Anglican Church

St. Bartholomew’s Anglican Church in Fraserville (designated as Rivière-du-Loup in 1919) was a six-kilometre carriage ride away from Villa Les Rochers in St. Patrick, and the Macdonald family would travel there regularly.

A black and white image of a wooden St. Bartholomew's anglican church with a square steeple at the front, and a graveyard in the foreground.

St. Bartholomew’s Anglican church, c. 1860


Lady Agnes Macdonald not only attended church every Sunday but also was very involved in charitable community events, participating in church bazaars, fairs and other fundraising efforts for St. Bartholomew’s.

Lady Agnes Macdonald dressed in a long black dress standing in front of a hearth, next to a fur coat which is draped over a chair.

Lady Agnes Macdonald, 1881


In 1875, Lady Agnes Macdonald was grieving over the death of her mother, Theodora Bernard. At this time Sir John A. agreed to formally join the Anglican Church, which gave his wife much comfort.

Lady Agnes was a devoutly religious person who took her social and philanthropic commitments very seriously, well aware her public position made her an example to others.

A black and white photograph of an old wooden church with a steeple at the front, and a two-storey minister's house erected quite close to the front of the church.

St. Bartholomew’s Church in an undated photo, showing the proximity of the minister’s house


In the summer of 1880, with the help of their friends the Bates and the Popes, Lady Agnes hosted a “Fancy Fair” featuring a sale of handicrafts, and helped raise the “enormous” amount of $746.00 for the church.

The simple wooden church changed little over the years, although the minister’s house would eventually be partially dismantled, lifted and moved.


A colour photograph of a wooden slat-backed, painted chair with a woven seat which is so worn it is almost unattached to the frame of the seat on one side. The round-knob handles of the chair, and the armrests themselves, are so worn that all the paint has come off that part. The chair has been placed in front of a wooden pew behind which there are rows of pews. The wide floorboards of the church floor are unpainted and dry.

Sir John A. Macdonald’s chair has been preserved at St. Bartholomew’s Church


When the Macdonalds were in residence at villa Les Rochers, a chair was always placed in front of the family’s first pew, along with a space for Mary’s wheelchair. Sir John A. would sit in this chair, so that he could be next to his daughter.


Colour photograph of St. Bartholomew's Anglican church interior, wooden pews, wooden backdrop to altar, a plain wall in the centre of which is a stained glass window.

View of pews and altar at St. Bartholomew’s Church


Local wildflowers would be gathered to decorate the altar, and sunlight would stream through the stained glass windows as local Anglicans came to listen to the minister’s sermon, to pray and to sing hymns.


A colour, side-view photograph of St. Bartholomew's, an old wooden church with a front steeple. In the photo's foreground is a gravestone and in the background, trees and sky.

St. Bartholomew’s church, 2017


During the 20th century, the number of parishioners declined. Between 1970 and 1990 the church was opened occasionally for baptisms, marriages and special events.

Restoration work began in 1998, after which St. Bartholomew’s became part of the heritage network of the Société de Sauvegarde du Patrimoine du Grand Portage. Visitors are offered free guided tours during the summer months.