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The Abbotts arrive in St. Andrews

Joseph Abbott and his younger brother William landed in St. Andrews, the administrative capital of the Seigneurie of Argenteuil, in 1818. The village was experiencing a period of unparalleled prosperity. Located at the first rapids on the North River, between the hills and the Ottawa River, St. Andrews was transformed by the inception of one of Canada’s most important industries. The village was founded by New England families who built Canada’s first paper mill there in 1803. The flourishing business attracted more settlers, and St. Andrews became the economic heart of Argenteuil in the Laurentian mountains.

Oil landscape of the village of Saint-André-d’Argenteuil in summer; colour. The foreground shows deciduous and evergreen trees and green fields. Behind these, the village with its houses and white church is surrounded by two rivers on the left and right. A hill covered in green and ochre farmland rises behind the village. Indistinct blue hills can be seen in the distant background. The sky is cloudy, blue and white.

St. Andrews in 1844


The village was home to a mix of loyalists, revolutionaries, Scots, Irishmen and Canadiens, and to a diversity of religions. Anglicans rubbed shoulders with Methodists, Presbyterians, Baptists, Congregationalists and Catholics. Without an established church, parishioners attended services in the village school or a converted barn.

Black and white photo of Christ Church. The church is made of brick, the double door in the centre is open on one side and topped by a lancet window. Another window of the same shape can be found in the bell tower. The openings in the bell tower are lancet-shaped and it is topped by a tall spire crowned with a black cross. Two loudspeakers are mounted on either side of the door and there are many trees behind the church.

Christ Church, built in 1819

“I have myself seen men, travel, what in England would be considered an incredible distance, upwards of 20 miles, to attend divine service,” wrote Reverend Joseph Abbott.

In 1819, the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts entrusted Reverend Joseph Abbott with the task of overseeing the construction of the Christ Church Anglican Church. William later succeeded his brother as rector of the Anglican parish until his death in 1859.