Mary Queen of Peace
On February 19, 1914, a Provincial Charter incorporated Ste-Genevieve de Pierrefonds as an independent municipality later known as the Town of Roxboro.
At first, there were few inhabitants, mostly farmers established along "Des Sources". During the summer months, many vacationers built cottages on the banks of Rivrère des Prairies. Some eventually built their homes in the town.
When the CNR started operating a line between Montreal and Deux-Montagnes, and even to Grenville for commercial purposes, this put Roxboro on the map. Sale of land was accelerated. Mayor Bigras did much for the development of the town, as well as Mr. René Labelle and Mr. R.A. Fortier, who sold building material at cost price, greatly helping construction. The town had no aqueduct nor sewer system ; wells had to be dug. Mr. Caron who had the adequate equipment did most of the construction work.
Although an independent municipalily, Roxboro had no church, and remained part of Ste-Geneviève parish. The Catholics attended Mass there on Sundays. By and by, as the population increased, especially during summer months when vacationers almost doubled its number, everyone wished to have a chapel in Roxboro. Mr. René Labelle, together with a group of citizens, worked towards this goal. Mr. Roland Bigras donated a piece of land on Gouin Boulevard, south-west of 4th avenue. Finally, after all obstacles were removed, the town issued a building permit on August 25, 1950, and work started at once. The architect for the chapel was Elio Vincelli, with Mr. Anselme Lavigne the contractor. Most of the work and material were gifts : the contractor and his helpers gave their time and hands; O'Connell furnished cement blocks; Messrs. Fortier and Labrosse donated lumber, nails, etc. : Mr. Henri Meunier installed the heating system, while Mr. Alban Boissonneault made the altar. All was carried on so diligently that the first mass could be celebrated in the chapel at midnight on Christmas 1950. It was a great event. The Provincial Police even sent an honour guard: sergeant Chapdelaine and constables Barry and Choquette were in full uniform.
The chapel was dedicated to Mary, Queen of Peace. It had an elegant steeple, but no bells and no money to buy any. More help came. Through Mr. René Labelle, Mr. Maurice Provost installed a loud speaker system in the steeple; with a record player in the sacristy recordings of bells "did the trick", and the steeple chimed joyously, calling the faithful to mass on Sunday at 8 and 9:30 a. m. Reverend Father Bertrand with his assistant Father Vincent of the Holy Cross Fathers provided the service. Altar boys were trained by Mr. Henri Lavigne, and later by Mrs. Flo Milne, then Mr. Fred Stoeckel.
There was, as yet, no school in Roxboro. Children had to attend either Cloverdale School No. 7 in the east; school No. 3, west of Des Sources, or school No. 2 on Gouin Boulevard corner of Valois Street. In 1953, a School Board, calied "The Roxboro School Commission", come into existence. Mr. René Labelle was the first president, with Messrs Martin Burla, François Chevrier, Claude Renaud and Albert Perrier commissioners. Mr. Roger OuelIette was secretary. In September, five classes were opened in the chapel: one upstairs, in the choirloh, for English speaking pupils from grade one to grade six, with Miss Pontbriand as teacher; and four downstairs for the French speaking children. Mobile partitions were put up after Mass on Sunday to be taken down after school on Friday or Saturday. The commissioners had to face the problem of providing a regular school that very first year. On July 6, 1 954, a p srmit was issued to bu ild a school with eight classes, on 3rd Avenue South. Mr. Fred Stoeckel replaced Mr. Chevrier as Commissioner that summer. Since the new building could not be ready for September, a lease was signed with Mr. M. Villemaire, 26-2nd Avenue North, to open classes in his house from September to January.Miss McFall was hired for a second English class and Mrs Jason replaced Miss Pontbriand in the existing class. A French class was also added, bringing the total number to seven. The new school was ready by December; the pupils moved in on the 20th of that month. The school was called "Roxboro Catholic School. "(Now, Lalande). Registers tell us that 35% of the pupils were English speaking.
Between 1946 and 1957, about 800 new homes were built, with over 30 Streets and Avenues opened. There was a large increase in the population. Since a new school was under way, was it not time for Roxboro to become an independant parish? People thought it was, and mode the request to the archbishop of Montreal, Cardinal Léger received it favourably, and on September 3, 1954, Mary Queen of Peace parish was canonically established. It then extended east to Pitfield Road; north, to Rivière des Prairies ; south, to Dorval, west, to the actual limits of Sfe-Geneviève. It is interesting to note that the Coat of Arms of the Town of Roxboro recalls the history of both the city and the parish.
The shield is divided into four equal quarters ; the second and the third quarters apply to the town, while the first and the fourth are relative to the parish. In these last two quarters, the colour blue and the unicorn are symbols of Mary, while the golden coronet is associated with the Virgin Mother, considered as Queen by the Church and therefore especially honoured in the fledging parish as "Queen of Peace". The silver line indicates the separation from Ste-Geneviève.
The first pastor was Father Lucien Valois, who was installed on September 12, 1954. For a short period, he made his home at 4th Avenue South, and then moved to the house on the north-east corner of Gouin and 4th Avenue, where the Laurentian Bank now stands.
Mr. Fred Stoeckel lost no time in organizing the Holy Name Society in the parish. This Society soon extended to the whole region, and Mr. Stoeckel is justly proud to say that this group once had "the largest list of paid members on all the Island of Montreal".
Even before the establishment of the parish, some ladies had organized the "Club Féminin". In January 1955, Mrs. Gertrude Stoeckel began another group called "The Ladies' Social Group". The first meeting took place at Mrs. Stoeckel's home with Mrs Marion, Mrs Rhéaume, Mrs Lazoriuk and Mrs Williams. They held card parties to raise funds for the parish. These parties took place in the ladies' homes, and occasionally at Mrs Brunet's Beauty Parlour. In 1956, the President of the Roxboro School Board, Mr. Martin Burla, allowed the ladies to use the school recreation hall for their activities. At this time, we read in the Records that the executive of the Social Group consisted of : Mrs Fred Stoeckel, president ; Mrs Y. Bouchard, vice president; Mrs A. Poirier, secretary, and Mrs Williams, treasurer. The advisors were: Mrs Alban Boissonneault, Mrs Emile Brunet and Mrs M. Gosselin. This group pursued the some aim as that of the "Club Féminin". When important activities were in view, the two groups joined, working hand in hand. That some year 1956, Mrs Stoeckel launched the Apostleship of Prayer in the parish, and she is strll responsible for it.
The population kept growing to the extent that as early as 1959 our young parish had to be divided. On January 29, Ste-Suzanne was erected, bringing our boundaries to Pierrefonds East. There were to be other divisions to the parish... On April 18, 1963, St-David took the section west of Montée des Sources; and on July 28, 1 964, St-Luke took a part of Dollard des Ormeaux that belonged to Mary Queen of Peace.
On Wednesday, June 3, 1959, a fire broke out in the sacristy of the church and spread rapidly Both the sacristy and the church hall were put out of commission ; the chapel was heavily damaged. The entrance and the back of the church could be repaired; masses continued to besaid there on week days. The School Board offered ?he school hall for Sundays.
That same summer, six Dominican Sisters became parishioners. The school was then divided into two sections. One was under the direction of Sister Marie de Nazareth (Marguerite Bourgeois) and comprised of nine classes : grades one, two and three for the English speaking boys and girls; grades one, two and three for the French speaking boys and girls and grades six and seven for the French girls. The other grades, French and English, were in the second section, with Mr. Talbot as principal. On April 13, 1960, Father Valois was named pastor at Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue. He left the parish on the 19th of April, and his successor, Father Georges Robitaille, was inducted the following day by Mgr. Bélanger. He set to work with great courage and perseverance to continue and amplify the "Sowing of the field"; we can now appreciate all that has been accomplished...
The Catholic Women's League was organized in the parish on November 30, 1960, with Mrs Sally Bluteau as its first President. It was, and still is, a very active and efficient group. One of its first achievements was the "Cubs" group, with Mrs Ruth Neville.
On June 4, 196 1, Father Robitaille solemnly blessed the work tha t was carried on for the erection of a second school of twelve classes on Cartier St. This school, called Kirkland, was ready for September. Both the Commisionners and a group of Parents wished the two schools to be bilingual, and all the younger children to remain with the Sisters. Accordingly, the whole school on 3rd Avenue, now called "Lalande", passed under the direction of Sister Marie de Nazareth, with the first, second and third grades, boys and girls, both French and English, and all the French girls from grade four to grade nine included; there were nineteen classes in all. The French boys from grade four to grade nine, and the English boys and girls from grade four to eight, went to Kirkland (eleven classes), with Mr. A. Blanchard as principal.
The parish now had two schools, a convent for the Sisters, on 3rd Avenue South, but no church. After the fire, all parishioners were convinced that something had to be done; but exactly "what?" Some wanted to restore the chapel; others favoured an entirely new church. But among the latter, opinions differed as to "where to build it?" A small group of English speaking parishioners even thought of having a separate church of their own... But these rallied with the majority, and became very cooperative. After the visit of Father Delorme, from the archdiocese, it was decided to buy a piece of land on Gouin, facing the old chapel, from Les Clercs S?-Viateur, and to build a new church on that property. A parishioner, Mr. Claude Gagnier, was chosen as architect, with Pilon & Co. as contractors. On April 1 sl, Father Robitaille blessed the land and proceeded to the soil turning ceremony.
The chapel being sold for the Shopping Center, the Sisters' convent on 3rd Avenue South become the parish during the week. Two masses were celebrated in their chapel every morning, the first at 7, sung by the Sisters, and the second at 7:30, sung by Mr. Fern Pesant. A confessional was placed in the parlor.
April 7, 1963, is a date to be remembered: on this Palm Sunday, we entered the new church for mass. Even though it was Lent and the liturgical colour violet, no one thought of being sad. And how happily did "Alleluia" resound on Easter Sunday!
Monseigneur Bélanger consecrated the marble altar, work of "Maison Carli", on August 9th, and on September l st, Cardinal Léger came for the solemn benediction of the church. Before laying the corner stone, His Eminence addressed the many faithful gathered outside. Speaking both in French and in English, he congratulated the parishioners for their good spirit of unity and cooperation. Father Robitaille then read the document to be sealed in the corner stone and which was signed by the Cardinal, the Pastor and his Assistant, Father Robert Picard, the trustees and the wardens.
After blessing the exterior of the church, the Cardinal entered, followed by the crowd. He blessed ?he inside, and then celebrated a solemn Mass and gave the Homily. In the choir, many members of the clergy had taken their seats, including the three Protestant Ministers of the town as special guests. After the ceremony, all were invited to meet His Eminence. The "history" of the church finishes here, but life goes on, Mary Queen of Peace keeps progressing. For the English section, some dates are to be especially remembered. First, concerning the schools. In 1964, our Roxboro School Board was amalgamated with Pointe-Claire-Beaconsfield (now Baldwin-Cartier). A new classification was made : Lolande received all the French speaking pupils, while Kirkland, had all the English speaking students. In 1965, a third school opened in the parish territory, St-Bernard, and some of our English speaking students registered there. In 1971, a change in the education laws of the Province of Quebec abolished "Parents Teachers" groups, and created the now existing Parents Committees. Mr. Lorne Maguire was elected the first President of the Kirkland School Committee, while Mr. A. Philippon was the first President of Lalande and Mr. W.E. Ryan, President of St. Bernard's.
In 1969, Mr. Bernard Blanchard and Mr. Jean-Claude Charlebois introduced the English Cursillo. That some year, the Folk Choir, with Kelly McCloskey, started its activities. Parishioners still enjoy their singing at the 9 :30 Sunday Mass; Miss Joanne Donato is the active and very capable Directress. In 1975, seven couples started the "Social Group of Seven".
This year, "Christians United for the Faith" are starting an oranization in the parish.
The parish is not the only one to celebrate a Silver Jubilee : the "Caisse Populaire" and Lalande School are also jubilarions. The "Caisse" held its first meeting in November 1954 and started operating the following February. Lalande opened its doors on December 20th, 1954. To both, we wish the very best !
Mary Queen of Peace has now completed its first quarter century as a parish. After the first period of "foundation", up to 1979, it is now entering its twenty-sixth year as a parish. If one retrospects, a feeling of gratitude fills the heart. First, towards God, and this feeling will be expressed at a Thanksgiving Mass to be celebrated in the church by 9ishop Grégoire, on October 20th; secondly, towards the two pastors who were responsible for the growth of the parish; and finally, to all the pioneers who have worked with them, often heroically, to make the parish what it.is today. It has been our privilege to contact many of these pioneers, and it is through their friendly cooperation that this writing of the "history" was mode possible. We thank them most heartfull y. With them, and other people like them, the parish can look forward, confidently, and keep marching on to the Golden Jubilee, in 2004.
Third Stage (1979-1994)
We have now been fifteen years in the third stage of our history, and without loving aside any of our enthusiasm, we would like to stop and with full contentment, mark with a single white pebble, our fortieth anniversary by celebrating the consecration of our Church and by grabbing the ten years which remain to arrive at the Gold.
During the first two stages, we have "ploughed, sowed, built" and, as well, have begun to harvest the fruits of our labour. We are continuing along the some path...
On April 23, 1980, there was again a celebration: It was the sixtieth birthday of our paslor Father Georges Robitaille, as well as the thirty-fifth anniversary of his ordination into the priesthood. It also marked the twentieth year of his arrival amongst us. To remember this triple anniversary, the parish hall became the scene where we met one another in merriment and a bursary was awarded to the man of honour. A delicious supper ended the evening.
On June 8th of that some year, it was our vicar's turn : Father Sylvia Jean celebrated his 25th year as a priest, and the parishioners, as one, offered him their best wishes. During a wine and cheese get-together a gift was presented.
Father Sylvio lerft us in October and was replaced by Father Nault, who in turn left us in the spring of 1983. It was then that Father Raymond Delisle, known amongst us as "Father Ray"; became our curate.
Our Church had a steeple, but ?he bells were missing... They "arrived from Rome" during the month of April 1984 and began to chime for the very first time during Easter eve, the 21 st of April. The parishioner's hearts were full of joy at the sound of the bells, as they also wanted to "shout out" aloud.
During May 1985, we held three days of festive activities to honour the 40th anniversary of the ordination into the priesthood of Father Robitaille, and also the 25th year as curate or our parish. On Thursday evening, the 23rd of May, we had an evening for the Youth of our parish; on Saturday night, a wine and cheese party; and on Sunday, after a 5:00 p.m. mass celebrated with Mgr. Crowley, we had a fabulous banquet.
In the fall of that year (October 6, 1985), two of our parishioners, Hank Gray and Lorne Maguire were bestowed the honours of permanent Deacons by Mgr. Crowley during a noon mass.
That some month, the new program initiation to the sacraments of reconciliation and of the Eucharist were organized. These programs have to be given in the parish and demand teamwork: Family-School-Parish. The first meeting was held in French on the evening of the Monday, the 7th of October. On the 20th it was held in English. The regular sessions began on February 1986.
On Sunday, the 3rd of November of that year, Mgr. Lapointe, episcopal curate, announced that Father Robitaille, after 25 years of devotion to our parish, would be retiring. He would be replaced by our curate, Father Raymond Delisle, O.S.M.
On November 24, 1985 the Eucharistic ministers, eleven of them, were officially mandated to disribute Host on Sundays and on holidays (some bring the communion to the home of the sick and elderly).
That some evening saw Mgr. Lapointe join the Parishioners in feasting and thanking the vicar who was leaving us and the new pastor who would take his place. After supper, both the children and the adult choirs presented us a musical program. (Father Robitaille left the parish for good in the springof 1986).
Mgr. Capointe visited our Parish on the 8th of November, where after the evening mass he met the congregation.
February 1987 ended with a magnificent "parish soiree". Everyone was invited to this gathering in order to better know one another... at all levels. It was a real success: about 200 people came to hear the parish choirs, both English and French, as well as the choirs of the Golden Age Association, and that of the lalande School. The music filled all that were gathered with joy. Dancing and dining completed the evening.
Friday night, the 6th of March, our Church hosted the ecumenical meeting for the week of prayer for the unification of Churches. Priests, ministers, rabbis and members of different denominations joined together in prayers.
Then on the 8th ofthe some month, another feost: we celebrated the 25th anniversary of our pastor into the priesthood. After a 7:00 p. m. mass, a banquet was held in the parish hall.
We had always collaborated with "Development and Peace". For many years the Catholic Women's League" had been in charge of "Poor man's Supper", held on Good Friday. In 1987 a small committee began another event to come to the aid of the some organization : after each mass, Sunday the 29th of March, we were invited to shore a lunch. In groups of eight ou ten at each table, an "invited" was served a large and delicious lunch; the other people that were present had only a glass of water and shared a basket of bread on the table. The fortunate understood that he had to think of, and had to make a real effort to share his dinner with the others... and these had to also make do with their skills and their imaginations to appreciate that which they received, having neither plates nor utensils. All survived their small pittance ; but the laughter hid a profound feeling... we were able to "live" through a real sharing experience.
To prove that all should continue to "grow" in spite of alf that happened, a large exposition was organized, where al / the kiosk where they showed all that they did. The people in charge of each group received the visitors in the basement of the Church during the 22nd and 23rd of October and answered any and all questions which were asked. In addition to the kiosks, and in order to promote the word of God, two large tables where one could purchase bibles, religious books (especially for children), baptismal souvenirs as well as souvenirs of the first communion and confirmation, posters, etc. are promoted. It was a big success.
Then, on the 12th of November, we rejoiced. An event occured which we celebrated with a thanksgiving mass and a buffet. This historical occasion was the burning of the mortgage.
During the spring of 1989, our pastor Father Delisle was again forced to take a complete rest. He was replaced by different priests.
On the lOth of June our parish took an active role in celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Town of Roxboro. Our French choir sang and two of our parishioners spoke, one on the activities of the parish, the other on the history of Lalande School, the oldest in the Town .
It became evident that Father Delisle could not continue his role. Mgr. Lapointe on the 18th ofJune presented to us our new pastor, Father Brion Moon. He will have an assistant, Father Erwin Ward. Again we carried on with confidence. All continued to work with zest to help our two priests.
On Sunday, the 6th of May 1990, it was vocation day. A group of children sang at the 10:45 mass and four children from Lalande, in authentic costumes, took on the roles of Saint Marguerite d'Youville, the blessed Katherine Tekakouita and the Blessed Brother André. An exposition and a video on vocations was held in the basement. Many visitors came. A unique event occurred on the first of September of that year: one of our "youthful" parishioners, Mrs. Kenny, celebrated her 100th birthday. With the organ playing during a high mass, the birthday "girl" made her grand entrance escorted by her white-haired sons.
A year and a half later, on Sunday the 22nd of March 1992, our new episcopal curate, Mgr. J. Martin, is a visitor and graciously delivered the sermons at all of the masses. He returned eight days later to meet the parishioners, and again the next day, but this time he visited Lalande School. That evening, April 1, Mgr. J. Martin assisted at the Peniiential Celebration.
For Father Moon's 25 years as a priest, a grand feast was held to celebrate the anniversary of his ordination. A warm reception was preceded by a Mass. But alas he too had to leave us. After 3 years of tender devotion, that summer saw his departure, as well as ?hat of his vicar, Father Ward. We expressed our heartfelt thanks to Father Moon with a brunch on the 30th of August.
Father Remi Levac, our new pastor, reached us on the 1 si of September, 1992. He officially took up his post twelve days later. Mgr. Martin presided. After Mass, Father Levac was introduced to us, while coffee and doughnuts were served. Thus we welcomed him among us... for a new start.
For many years, one of the Sunday Masses was designated "Family Mass". Sometimes there were many children present, and sometimes, much less. For some time this Mass did not exist. Then, on October 25, 1992, we took it up again, although on a monthly basis at first. Then a daycare center for the small fry was inaugurated. It took time to take shape, but we now have a Sunday family Mass with a pastoral animator and an introduction to the Catechism for the children on the three other Sundays, which is presented by some spirited volunteers.
As a novelty, Sunday the 30th of May, 1993, saw the first Ethnic Mass. It was celebrated at noon, and afterwards at the parish hall foods from many different countries were served. It was a nice time to socialize and to better get to know each other.
A generous parishioner donated the beautiful statue of the Virgin and the Child, which, having arrived from Italy, was blessed during a Saturday night bilingual Mass on August 14 .
On the following Saturday, the 21 st of August, a second parishioner celebrated her centennial : Mrs. Jeanne Maguire, mother of our deacon, Lorne. Lively and with a smile from ear to ear, she received congratulations and the warm affections of many parishioners, relatives and friends. After mass she joined us downstairs for lunch, very alert and smiling.
September 25th introduced the first meeting of the spiritual awakening, a continuation on the meaning of baptism for the parents of the newly baptized. Five couples have attended all the sessions until June. The group is very animated and wishes to continue meeting in September 1994.
Brother Jocelyn of the Sacerdotal Fraternity works closely with our pastor as well as all the volunteers. Our established associations such as the CWL, the Coeurs Joyeux (new name for the golden age), the Friendship Club, the choirs, the charismatic movement, the adoration of the blessed sacrament the night before the first Friday of every month and the Scouts are all very active ; the newer associations are just waiting to grow.
As to the care of the poor, the parish is very efficient: Christmas baskets, boxes to receive canned goods and other non-perishable food items, a Christmas tree put up in our Church by the CWL so the parishioners can donate games and clothes to the poor children, as well as may wrapped gifts all during the advent season, the Poor People's supper on Good Friday, and other initiatives on behalf of development and peace, etc. remain in the program.
Wardens, hired personnel, volunteers and Pastoral Animators assist our Curate and Brother Jocelyn. With our pilot, Father Levac, and his "second", the ship sails on, and the heart rejoices towards the fortieth anniversary and the consecration of our Church. We truly desire that:
"The parish has our appearance. She becomes you, she becomes me, she becomes US."