A Canadian Historic Site in St. Raphael’s, Ontario

Latest News

Restoration and Removal

“For members of my living history unit, who recreate and educate the public on early Glengarry history and what life was like during the War of 1812, the Bishop’s House is Holy Ground,” said Jim Mullin, a living history re-enactor with the Glengarry Light Infantry Fencibles.

read more

Glengarry Fencibles Trust Saves the Bishop’s House!

An agreement was reached August 14, 2015, between the Catholic Diocese of Alexandria-Cornwall and the non-profit citizens’ group Glengarry Fencibles Trust by which the Trust has acquired the historic Bishop’s House in St. Raphael’s, Ontario. The house, built in 1808, is among the oldest and most historic buildings in Ontario, and is an element in the celebrated St. Raphael’s Ruins National Historic Site.

The deal comes after 11 years of campaigning and negotiating by the Fencibles to ensure the preservation of the grand, three-storey stone house, built in 1808 by Rev. Alexander Macdonell, parish priest of St. Raphael’s in the early 1800s and later first bishop of Ontario.

Glengarry Fencibles Trust took possession of the Bishop’s House on March 31, 2016. Restoration — following two decades of neglect — has begun. And — with your help — the great house will become a vital part of the community again.

It’s great news for the Bishop’s House, great news for St Raphael’s and Glengarry County, great news for the cause of historic preservation everywhere!

Historical Significance


Ontario's First Bishop

This is the home of Ontario’s first bishop, Rev. Alexander Macdonell. It was the bishop’s centre of operations for more than a quarter-century.

Ontario's First College

The Bishop’s House housed the first institution of higher learning in Ontario, the College of Iona (1818).

The Warrior Bishop

Rev. Alexander Macdonell was military chaplain in battle in Ireland in 1798, and in Canada in the War of 1812.

"Canada's Greatest Chaplain"

CCHA Vol. 65 (1938-39)

National Importance

A leader in education and promoter of immigration, Macdonell was named a “National Historic Person” in 1924 for his outstanding and lasting contributions to Canada. He is Glengarry County’s one and only National Historic Person of Canada.

Help take the boards off!

In April 2015, at the same time as the Diocese of Alexandria-Cornwall applied for a demolition permit for the Bishop’s House, the windows of the venerable building were boarded up. And although in June 2015 the Municipality of South Glengarry voted unanimously to reject the Diocese’s bid to demolish, the boards stayed on.

In August 2015, the Glengarry-based citizens’ group Glengarry Fencibles Trust — after an 11-year campaign — concluded an agreement with the Diocese to buy the Bishop’s House.

Our first project once we took possession of the building in March, 2016 was to organize the replacement of the roof. Next, our plan is to take the boards off the windows! Let the sun shine in!

With your help, the sun will shine in and on the Bishop’s House for generations to come!

Thank you.

9 + 15 =