OHS Bulletin: The Newsletter of the Ontario Historical Society, Issue 198, March 2016

2006 03 March B.H.St.R. copyThe Bishop’s House (built in 1808) sits on the Ruin of St. Raphael’s Roman Catholic Church National Historic Site of Canada
Photo – Allan Macdonell




Allan J. Macdonell, President, Glengarry Fencibles Trust
Brenda Baxter, Director, Glengarry Fencibles Trust


The “Fencibles” will take possession of the Bishop’s House in March 2016, and will work to bring the property back to life. This house is part of the Ruin of St. Raphael’s Roman Catholic Church National Historic Site of Canada (1996) and was designated under the Ontario Heritage Act in 2011. It is considered to be in the top one percent – in terms of historical significance – of the province’s heritage properties (Ontario Heritage Trust).

The house will be reopened as an arts and culture centre with studios, exhibit space, a catering kitchen, and a tea room overlooking the grounds. The former refectory with high ceilings will be reused for receptions and concerts. The Bishop’s House will recognize the public service of Canadian pioneers associated with this National Historic Site, including Alexander Macdonell, Ontario’s first bishop, and John Sandfield Macdonald, Ontario’s first premier.

The project’s heritage architect is Ron Rayside of Rayside Labossière, Montreal, a firm that specializes in the adaptive and sustainable reuse of former religious buildings.

The College garden, with its stunning stone wall, laid out in 1826, is of particular heritage interest, and will be restored and opened to the public. Mark Burleton, National Commission, who is in charge of the gardens at Rideau Hall, has offered to advise the Fencibles on the garden’s restoration.

The renovation work for this two million dollar conservation project will be done in phases. The first phase will address immediate threats to the physical integrity of the building and preserve its architectural features.

Glengarry Fencibles Trust is a locally based volunteer organization and a registered charity, incorporated by the Ontario Historical Society in 2010 to own, preserve, and rehabilitate this historic property. Volunteers have been working for the conservation and sustainable reuse of this house since 2004. This effort, leading to the acquisition of the property in August 2015 , as covered by the OHS Bulletin in several reports during the past year.

This project requires capital for matching program funding to ensure that the house and grounds, an important and unique part of Ontario’s early history, are preserved for the enjoyment and educational benefit of future generations. If you would like to help or would like more information, please contact the Fencibles at info@bishopshouse.ca . All donations will receive an official receipt for income tax purposes. Visit our website for more information and updates: www.bishopshouse.ca/support or visit our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/thebishopshouse .

Reprinted from the OHS Bulletin, Issue 198, March 2016 published by The Ontario Historical Society.

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