While on our recent trip to Montreal and Ottawa, part of the fun of the trip was taking backroads and sideroads, straying off the beaten path, and seeing the sights not often seen by travellers and tourists. We passed by many pretty churches in small towns. Most were locked, or we were unable to stop, but we made note of the names and places so we could look them up and see if they had a web presence.
Most didn't. A few had disappointing websites, but one had an interesting little website, although it took a few searches before I found it: St Andrew's, in the town of St Andrew's West.
history behind the altars. Here is the sort of information I would have loved to have had when I was writing my little history of the Toronto Diocese.
The altar history consists of what appears to be the original contracts. A man by the name of
Zepherin Perrealt was contracted to do the work, and eventually offered to build, free of charge to the parish, a side altar dedicated to Our Lady, on the provision that the parish undertake a a second side altar, whereupon the priest approached a John McDonnell, ESQ., who agreed to pay for the second altar. For agreeing to pay for the altar, and as a recognized benefactor of the church, McDonnell would have a Mass said once a year during his life and after his death for the repose of his soul, and he was also entitled to be buried under that altar after his death.
A fascinating window into a different time. It called to mind the story of John Elmsley, the man who donated land and paid for much of the construction of St Basil's in Toronto. Elmsley left instructions in his will that, after death, his heart was to be removed from his body and buried in or near the altar to Mary at St Basil's.
It makes an interesting question: How common was it for benefactors be buried in whole or in part within or beneath the altars of their churches, and if it was common, what happened when so many of these altars were ripped up and removed?