What is it with Church's & fires in Quebec ? Uusally it's only a 'rezoning' issue burn it down & rebuild,but this one may just have been an arsonist (arseholeness,is more like it)
Arson has destroyed a country chapel that inspired an anglophone heritage trail in central Quebec.
Provincial police have no suspects in the May 28 torching of St. Stephen's Church, a 1904 hillside chapel in Inverness, 205 kilometres east of Montreal.
"It's an incredible loss," said owner Marie-Ève Adam, who bought the former Anglican place of worship in 1999 and made it a centrepiece of the Celtic Way, a tour of local landmarks commemorating the Scottish, Irish and English pioneers who settled Mégantic County in the 19th century.
Adam held occasional concerts in the chapel and hoped to restore the Gothic structure as a cultural centre. Those dreams now lie in ashes.
"I have lost more than a magnificent building, I have lost the dream of reviving this mythical place through music and shows that I was planning to organize this summer," Adam wrote in an email to friends and acquaintances.
The church was not insured, she said.
In 2001, Adam, 45, a Montreal native who is now a political attachée to Bloc Québécois MP Francine Lalonde, rallied support from local residents and the municipality to inaugurate the Celtic Way. The picturesque chapel was a highlight of the tour, which also takes in a woodland monument to the Scottish founders of Inverness, who arrived from the Isle of Arran in 1829.
"It's a real tragedy, a real loss for all Quebecers," said Dwane Wilkin, executive director of the Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network.
The fate of St. Stephen's dramatizes the plight of historic rural churches, Wilkin said. "These little country churches have been nearly abandoned because the communities that used to maintain them and support them have dwindled," he said. "As time goes by and these sites aren't properly protected, the memory of anglo Quebecers will be erased from our landscape, so I am sad about that."
Historic wooden structures like churches and covered bridges are particularly vulnerable to arson, Wilkin added. "They are the perfect tinderbox," he said. "Oftentimes adolescents who are fooling around think it would be kind of neat to torch something and don't understand the full calamity that they bring upon their own community in doing so."
Mario Gagné, director of the fire department for the Érable region, described the fire as "a senseless gesture."
Firefighters from Inverness and two neighbouring villages arrived soon after neighbours reported flames in the roof at 3:34 a.m., but were powerless to quell the blaze.
When the sun rose, the firefighters fell silent as they contemplated the devastation, Gagné said.
"The interior was a priceless treasure," he said. "Unfortunately, it's all gone up in smoke."
Gagné had just received a new fire truck the day before and had planned to photograph it the following Monday in front of the picturesque chapel. Instead, he spent that day combing the ruins for clues about the fire, which appears to have been set deliberately in the church's dirt basement.
Rector Herbert Dickson rebuilt St. Stephen's, founded in 1844 and consecrated by Montreal Bishop George Jehoshaphat Mountain 11 years later, after the original 1852 church burned down in 1901.
It featured exquisite wooden scrollwork and stained glass windows. Dickson, the moving spirit of the parish from 1895 to 1915, was editor of the Mégantic edition of the Montreal Gazette from 1899 to 1911, brought telephone service to the county in 1911 and was involved in modernizing agriculture in the region.
"He was very involved in the community," Adam said. "Young people who wanted to get an education would come to see him."
Dickson died in 1915 at age 47. A marble plaque in the church, which was destroyed in the fire, commemorated his years of service.
"Here we have no continuing city," read the plaque - a quote from the Book of Hebrews that refers to the need to focus on spiritual goals in the face of earthly destruction. Set against the backdrop of the impending fall of Jerusalem, the Biblical verse ends: "but we seek one to come."
Adam hopes to create an exhibition space to display photographs of the church and its bell, the only thing salvaged from the fire.
...Looks like it was a nice little chapel building,....hope they salvaged the collection plate,and they are back in business tout suite..............hahahaha