The two-and-a-half-storey structure was constructed on the 5.5-acre property in 1808. It served as Rev. Macdonell’s residence until 1836. From its inception, it was also a school known as the College of Iona.

It became the first publicly-supported Roman Catholic school in Upper Canada in 1818. By the late 1800s, it had become a girls-only boarding school, and a day school for village boys and girls.

Beginning in 1913, it operated as a high school staffed by teaching sisters of the Holy Cross order and continued in that capacity until the late 1960s when Iona Academy was built next door.

Subsequently, the Bishop’s House was used strictly as a residential student boarding facility before Mount Carmel House opened there in the early 1980s. Major renovations were carried out in the 1870s and in 1924, when matching east and west wings, housing classrooms, a dining hall and a chapel, were added.

Ontario’s First Bishop

This was 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”

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.

The Bishop’s House is across the road from the celebrated National Historic Site, the Ruins of St. Raphael’s, the towering walls of the former St. Raphael’s Church, built by Rev. Macdonell 1815-1821, lost to fire in 1970 and subsequently stabilized and preserved.

The Glengarry Fencibles Trust, a registered charity, is an incorporated not for profit citizens’ group.

Its purpose is to promote the preservation, rehabilitation and re-use of the Bishop’s House of Glengarry.

The Glengarry Fencibles Trust, initially the Bishop’s House Committee, has campaigned for the preservation and re-use of the Bishop’s House since 2004.

The Glengarry News (March 9, 2022) Volume 131 No. 10.

November 2021 Newsletter
The Bishop would be pleased
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