The diocesan records make reference to a “small wooden chapel” that was built in 1833. The chapel was known as the “Mission of Nepean” and priests from Bytown (Ottawa) and the parish of St. Philip’s in Richmond conducted services here.
The wooden chapel was too small to house the growing number of parishioners in the Fallowfield area and since there was no resident priest nor any person or family designated to take care of the chapel, it soon fell into disuse and decay.
Bishop Guigues and the various priests assigned to serve the Fallowfield area stressed the need to construct a proper church for the 126 Catholic families living in the area.
The Church, which cost $4,627 to build, was made of stone and well finished inside and was 73 feet long and 40 feet wide. Plans were made for a 20-foot extension for a sanctuary and a sacristy. A large crowd was on hand for October 21, 1866 when St. Patrick’s Church was blessed.
The rectory was built by William Brennan for the sum of $4,100. On March 9, 1884, Father John Coffey, the former parish priest at Onslow, was established as the first resident parish priest of St. Patrick’s at Fallowfield.
Later in 1884, Father J.A. Sloan increased the number of pews in the church from 94 to 102 at a cost of $75. The increased revenue from this expansion (as each pew was rented) may have been only one reason for wanting a greater seating capacity. During Mass, a large number of the younger men would not sit or stand inside the church because there was no shed for their horses. They left their teams at one of the local hotels and often they had to drift down to “tend” their horses during the service.
In 1904-05 the present transepts, apse and sacristy were added, increasing the length of the church to 120 feet.
With Father J.J. Burke as the new parish priest, an new era began in 1944 for St. Patrick’s. Where a year earlier all of the sodalities and societies had ceased to operate, within a very short time, Father Burke had the League Of The Sacred Heart, the Holy Name Society and the Catholic Women’s League reinstated. Father also worked very hard to get the parish out of debt and refused to tithe farmers for more money.
During 1961-63 our parish grew and the boundaries of St. Patrick’s were changed as St. Maurice and St. Monica parishes were formed. In later years, the formation of St. Martin de Porres in Bells Corners and Holy Redeemer in Kanata would reduce further the boundaries of our parish but this was offset by the new growth occurring in Barrhaven. Our boundaries were changed again in 2007 with the establishment of a new parish in Barrhaven. Most of Barrhaven was given to that parish, and we obtained an area of Kanata.
In the late 1960s, our parish priest Father W.G. Fogarty had a plaque made with the names of former pastors inscribed on it. It is in the vestibule of the church on the left-hand side when you enter, towards the stairs leading to the balcony.
Since the establishment of our parish, we have had sixteen parish priests (pastors). The longest serving were Father William T. McCauley (30 years), Father J.J. Burke (18 years) and Fathers J.T. Foley and Paul Baxter (12 years) and Father Thomas Riopelle (11 years).
The creche that we see in the church at Christmas was made in 1975 by the late William (Willie) Burke. The cost to replace the original creche was prohibitive, so Willie built the new creche to scale, matching the height of the statues. Each log was picked to match in width and length and was cut and brought out of the bush by Willie Burke and Georges Tessier.
In October, 1991, to coincide with our 125th anniversary, a major renovation and restoration of the church and the exterior of the rectory was begun. Over the next four years, through the generosity of our parishioners in terms of money and their time to do some of the work, the project was completed on time and within budget. One important result of this renovation was that our church became wheelchair accessible.
To usher in the new millennium, a replica of the main altar table was built for use at Mass and the main and side altars and statues were restored and painted along with the interior of the church. The original pulpit was restored and painted to match the altars and installed at Easter. A parish centre was built in 2002, enabling the parish to gather in a state of the art facility, which includes a hall, meetings rooms and offices. Plans are now underway for the celebration of the parish’s 150th anniversary which will take place in 2016.