1 October 2012

Another maker of beautiful altars

I looked up another altar maker, this time the maker of the alter at St Andrew's in the village of St Andrew's, Zepherin Perrault.  There isn't much to be found about him,  He was based in Montreal, as an architect, and the only altars made by him that I could find are the ones in St Andrew's, and the other is in, of all places, the cathedral in Hamilton.

St Andrew's published the contract between the pastor and the Mr Perrault.  It gives some interesting information.

Zepherin Perreault of Montreal, having furnished plans for altar and plastering church, and also specifications, the committee have entered into an agreement with him for lathing, plastering and finishing the interior of the church erecting gallery, putting up and finishing an altar according to plans furnished, all to be of the best materials and in a workmanlike manner, in the same style in which the cathedral of Hamilton has been finished by him. Perreault is to furnish all material at his own expense; but the committee agrees to do all carting of sand and materials within the distance of nine miles. Perreault agrees to do all the work for the sum of $5,563, the half of which sum is to be paid during the progress of the work and at its completion.
That cathedral is now the pro-Cathedral of St Mary, the seat of the Hamilton bishop being moved briefly to St Patrick's and then to Christ the King.  The Pro Cathedral lacks a website, I am sorry to say, but there are a few photos of the interior to be found. (I found the following photos here.) How much of it is original to Perrault, and how much is later additions, I cannot tell.  There is a plaque out front which names Perrault as the maker of the altar and the interior.

St Mary's is one of the more intact churches in the area.  Note communion rail.

I don't know about you, but I always thought this guy looked a little French.  Now I know why.
 The agreement between Perrault and the parish of St Andrew's goes on to say:

Perreault has also proposed to make and place in the church pews according to our choice and at a price per pew to be agreed on hereafter and he agrees to make these pews without any actual payment, but to be paid out of the pew rent as it is paid by the holders; that is, in two or three years.

THE Altar WILL COST THE PARISH NOTHING AS IT IS MY INTENTION TO PAY FOR IT MYSELF a $600.00 gift to the greater honor and glory of God.
That last statement was made by the priest himself.  But allow me to put that into a historical perspective.  This-

-cost six hundred bucks.

Clearly the church is decorated in a much different style than St Mary's in Hamilton, although the altars have some similar elements.  An older photo of St Andrew's, taken in the forties, shows a different style of decoration, which may or may not be closer to Perrault's.

Perrault also built the side altars at St Andrew's, freely donating one if someone could be found to pay for the second, (thus giving the church a two for one deal) as well as the Communion Rail.  It may seem strange to us today, but there was money to be made furnishing churches back int he day.

Perrault must have done more than these two churches, and I suspect more of his work is to be found in Montreal and Quebec, but there is no record of it.  There is a Perrault working on the interior of Notre Dame in Montreal about twenty years after this, but it is not Zepherin. 

This is, unfortunately, all I could find on-line about Zepherin Perrault, a top calibre artisan.  His work must be out there still, but like the cathedral builders of old, he may have been forgotten.  More's the pity.

1 comment:

Carl Vdw said...

I took some photos of the altar in Hamilton, if you would like to see them contact me at carlvdw3@gmail.com