ST. PAUL’S CHURCH AND CEMETERY RENOVATION PROJECT
St. Paul’s Church on Dunany Road, a few meters away from the line between Gore and Wentworth Townships, has been the Anglican place of worship for its parishioners and a home-away for so many others since 1878. This is when the “little red church”, as it was often called, was built, along with the creation of a peaceful and intimate cemetery which many permanent and seasonal residents of Dunany chose as their final resting place.
In 2010 we will celebrate the 130th anniversary of St. Paul’s, the Church that, since its birth, has always been a landmark to Dunany residents – our “welcoming lighthouse” as we enter into Dunany from Lachute, and the oldest standing structure in the community: “we want to keep it for the enjoyment of our descendants.”
BIRTH OF A PROJECT
A couple of years ago, a few residents met to talk about assisting St Paul’s with some minor improvements to the cemetery. It did not take long for the group to understand how much the church and the cemetery had become an entity and how important it was that these two elements be combined in the future of St. Paul’s. So the idea of some improvements should be planned for both of them. After animated exchange of opinions and preferences, agreement was reached and at that point the project was given a life of its own.
With some very positive input from the community, the Church Corporation made a decision to expand the existing cemetery and at the same time undertake repairs of the church. With the knowledgeable steering of David Friesen and the generosity of Dr Louis Lapierre who had given the land, the cemetery acquired an additional 8000 sq ft for the expansion.
With the idea of expanding the cemetery, the scope of the “minor improvements” changed. The land had to be cleared of trees, stumps had to be removed and all stones and rocks dug out and removed. That was essential to allow future internment of coffins without involving heavy machinery every time. Finally ground cover had to be laid down and a fence installed around the new grounds. A far larger project than just fixing and painting the fence!
A budget was therefore established and presented to the Church Corporation by Ross Leslie, the People’s Warden. The budget presented was $27,000 – but the funding by the Church Cemetery Fund was limited to $7,500. So, with great faith in the Dunany community, the “St Paul’s Capital Campaign 2009” was born and with it the decision to apply the campaign revenue not only for the cemetery expansion, but for the much needed repairs to the church itself.
The work to be done on the church included the following: Six windows to be repaired or replaced, a new roof, some painting and brick pointing and finally the landscaping. The church had funds of only $5,000 set aside to carry out this work. Therefore, it was decided – The Capital Campaign would include funding for the church. A preliminary budget for the church work was established at $20,000.
The Corporation rightfully and wisely stated “no work could start until the funds were collected”. So, The Capital Campaign budget was set at $25,000 and the fundraising was set to start. As an aside – there were those who were not sure if we could possibly raise this amount. But one voice said – “we will exceed this amount knowing the strength of the community and in the words of the late Prime Minister Trudeau – Just watch us”!
As the energy of The Capital Campaign Committee and the Dunany Community started to erupt, additional repair needs became apparent and the budget for the church was revised to address the original repairs plus the electrical wiring, the stained glass window and an increased amount for the roof and landscaping. The total budget for the cemetery and the church was revised and totalled $62,000. A Big target!
CAPITAL CAMPAIGN RESULTS
The community responded with enthusiasm and interest as everybody embraced the project. To date $34,000 has come from the Dunany community with over 80 residents pledging and donating to the fund. The Dunany Community Association also contributed $1,000 and the Peter Palmer Fund donated $3,000. The Canton de Gore was solicited along with Mr. David Whissell, MNA for Quebec. We also approached the MRC d’Argenteuil. The MRC was very impressed by the generosity of the community and the leadership role the community had taken to support this project. The MRC, under the capable leadership of Catherine Lapointe, offered and arranged meetings with Quebec’s Cultural Affairs representative along with providing other contacts and financial support. Both Canton de Gore and MRC will contribute $6,500 each.
The Capital Campaign did have a defining moment that energized the Community. An art auction was held at the Dunany Country Club in August. Several of the Dunany artists and their friends generously gave of their time and talent donating 14 items to the bidding. When silence finally fell after the auction, and the tally was done, over $6,000 had been raised and donated to the church. The overwhelming success of the auction brought the Rector’s Warden, Wendy Crooks to tears and even surprised a few of the organizers.
As an added push, for the fundraising, The Capital Campaign Committee worked diligently to build a mailing list for St Paul’s church. This was not an easy task, but these people were not to be denied. By the end of September the church mailing list grew from 30 to over 185 names. A letter of solicitation was hand delivered to the residents or sent by mail if the residents had already returned to their primary residence. The response once again showed the commitment of the Dunany community to the project.
There were many people involved in making the Capital Campaign a success and we wish to recognize them:
For the Capital Campaign Committee:
Chairman Ross Leslie, Sharon Leslie, Annabelle Wood, David Friesen,
Sheryl Caron and Robert Percy.
For the Art Auction Group:
The Board of Directors and the members of the Dunany Country Club for permitting the use of the Club for the Art Auction.
All the Dunany artists and their friends: Bobin Tindale, Revilla Sauvé, Annabelle Wood, Ginette Masson -Roy, Joanne Moore, Sandra Laroche, Maryse Percy, Jane Pilon, and the late Martha MacDougall.
For Presentation and Canvassing:
Maryse Percy, Sheryl Caron, Sandra Laroche, David Friesen, Annabelle Wood, Robert Percy.
For Database and Mailing;
Sandra Laroche, Sheryl Caron, Annabelle Wood, Maryse Percy, June Parker. Special thanks to Annabelle and Ev Wood for donating data analysis, computer time and mailing from their direct mailing company Wood & Associates Direct Marketing Services in Toronto
For Project Management:
And a very special thank you to our Project Managers Robert Percy and Michel Caron who have completed many aspects of the project and are still hard at work on others. They have donated an unbelievable number of hours and a whole bunch of expertise to the campaign.
Finally, we are very pleased to report, the target of the Capital Campaign was reached allowing the start of various elements of the work for the cemetery and the church programs. An update on the progress of these items follows:
WORK ACTIVITIES AND RESULTS:
The Corporation of the Church approved the cutting of trees and clearing of 8000 sq. ft of newly acquired land in early August. A team of local ‘woodcutters’ moved on to the land and down came the trees. The team of ‘chainsaw boys’ were led by the Armstrong clan –Jim, Rod and Don. They very professionally cut their way through the trees. They were aided by Ross Leslie, David Friesen, Andrew Carter, Bruce Blake, Everett Wood, and Robert Percy Others who joined in to help in the burning and clearing were Ev Wood’s friend, Rob Percy’s brother in law and his son-in-law, Dave Hebert and our leader of the project, Michel Caron. Michel Caron and Robert Percy, church appointed Project Managers, managed the project through to its completion and supervised the blaze until extinction, in order to prevent a tragedy throughout the adjoining forest.
EXCAVATION OF THE EXPANTION AREA
For the next cemetery phase of the project, tenders were solicited from local excavation companies. Only one company submitted a fixed price for the contract (in lieu of charging on a per/ hour basis). That company, T & W Seale Company was awarded the contract. The Seale team proceeded to clear 16,000 sq ft of cemetery of stumps, rocks and stones. Since we came up with a huge amount of stones some of those were used to build a stone retaining wall on the south side of the cemetery. Other rocks and stones were disposed of in the area in preparation for landscaping later on. The land was then graded and two inches of topsoil added. Tom Seale and his employees did an excellent job and in addition Tom pledged a generous contribution to the Church Campaign program.
GREENING OF THE NEW AREA
After much research and extensive discussions the ground cover decision was to lay down sod instead of seeding for grass. This was supported by the Dunany Golf Superintendent, David Armitage and Golf Club Superintendent Alan Morton. One thousand and six hundred rolls of sod were laid down in 11 hours. Again volunteers from the area were at work. Thanks to Chris Wynn, Rob Percy and Michel Caron for their time and to the boys who did the majority of the work, Wayne Hogue, Steven Kennedy and Davey Armitage. They did a great job and gave the cemetery the “WOW” look as visitors came to see the results. Thanks also to Revilla Sauvé (who pushed the rolling barrel), Sheryl Caron and Maryse Percy for their contribution and supporting the sod installers.
Tourbe Lavigne provided the sod at 18.5 cents a yard, a special price for the church.
On that day, the cemetery fence was removed by Michel Caron and posts and boards were piled at the back of the cemetery. In the spring, a team of volunteers will sand, paint and re-install the fence under the guidance of Project Managers Caron and Percy.
Defining the course of action for the church work took some time and quite a few meetings to determine the level of work to be carried out. Led by Michel Caron and with input from Catherine Lapointe from the Argenteuil MRC, and a director from Cultural Affairs of Quebec, a direction was defined. “We will proceed to do the best, with available funds, in restoring the church with materials and techniques utilized in the original construction, or at least techniques and materials being currently utilized during that period”. That approach would increase the probability for the church to be considered by Quebec Cultural Affairs as one of the buildings of interest to them.
Three elements in the renovation program were of prime importance: the roof, the windows and the condition of the basic structure of the building, the latter being the most critical especially for the part that cannot be accessed easily.
The structure: The visual inspection of the church floor, walls and ceiling does not show any sign of significant structural damage or weakness. There is no sagging under the roof, the posts and vertical surfaces are plumb, and right angles seem to be 90 degrees or, if not, very close to it. We have had the opportunity during the past few months to show the building to professionals operating in various trades of the industry and the conclusion has been unanimous “that church was well built and does not show its age”.
However Robert Percy and Michel Caron had a concern (or was it curiosity ?): “What is the building sitting on?… What is the footing made of?…. What material was used to support the walls, … the floor, etc. In what condition are these materials? Any sign of damage or imminent trouble?”
To answer these questions we retained the services of a plumbing company which has also a special team whose expertise is the inspection of so-called inaccessible areas using a video camera and recording the findings. This method was quite appropriate to film the underneath of the church since the crawl space is only 6 inches in most places and therefore not accessible. With the video camera we were able to see the beams and, we are pleased to report that after 130 years they appear in very good condition and we have not detected any sign of decay, rot or fungi. The verdict of the technician conducting the test was: “Those beams are as good today as on the day they were installed”, information we were very pleased to receive.
The roof then became the next item to address. From a drawing found in the church done by Gratton Thompson, architect and the owner of the land across from the church, the bell tower was installed in 1935-1936. The roof covering the bell tower was a metal roof. The Cultural Affairs representative, suggested that the original roof had a good chance of being the same material. We also felt that a great architect such as Thompson would not have introduced a new element in the bell tower but matched the existing one.
So with this direction Project Manager Michel Caron with his able assistant Robert Percy, did an in-depth study of different materials and techniques from cedar shakes, to recent developments with natural, synthetic material and metal roofs. They identified three of those which were commonly used in the nineteen century when our Church was built: la canadienne, la tole baguette and the ‘tole double pincée’. Caron and Percy visited churches and other building, spoke with many people about these types of roof and their characteristics. Michel identified, with the help of the MRC, three roofing companies and asked for quotations. Michel and Robert visited two of them and were given demonstrations on how the different tole methods were used and the result of their installation. From all these findings, a recommendation was given to the Corporation and the decision was unanimous,” a roof of ”tole double pincée was to be installed”.
As this report is being printed the roof is being installed and it is expected that the work will be completed by December 15th, therefore in time for the Christmas Eve Service.
The work involved in this roof repair consisted firstly in removing the asphalt shingles and in inspecting the sub-surface and making repairs if indicated. A surprise was waiting for us and we were greatly pleased to learn that the subsurface was made of quality grade pine boards and that it was in excellent condition necessitating no repair. In addition this meant that the proposed plywood was not necessary. The ice and water shield was installed and a few hours later, the surface was ready for the installation of the metal roof.
The contract for repairing the roof was given to Jean François Ethier, 79965 St-Vincent, Mirabel, Quebec. He and his team are artists in the way this work is carried out. We are pleased to have him do this work and would be very comfortable in recommending him to anyone considering a roof of this kind.
The three windows on either side of the church, six in all, have been a challenge for the Project Management Team. A good amount of time has gone into planning how to proceed to replace or repair them. Several submissions were received from local suppliers, but most did not meet our criteria. “Charlebois Doors and Windows” in Lachute, was asked for a quotation to replace the six windows. The first quote was in the range of $15,000 including added security features – decorative steel bars and shatterproof glass. Other designs were discussed with the Charlebois technical manager and the price went down to $12,000, still beyond the budget that had been set aside for this item.
After receiving this second quotation, Michel Caron went back to square one and spent some time re-evaluating the situation, inspecting each window individually, and also taking one window out of its frame to better evaluate its condition. The result of this evaluation, after the multiple coats of paint had been removed, showed that the windows are made of several parts, some moving others fixed within the frame, some in good condition, others suffering from decay, but still repairable by introduction of a new piece of wood…etc.
Robert Percy and Michel Caron had several discussions on the best way to tackle the issue, until Robert suggested that Michel should make the windows in his own shop and install them. It was only after considering the proposal for a few days and several sleepless nights that Michel accepted Robert’s suggestion .
At this point it has been determined that the frames of the windows are repairable using the same kind of wood as the original, except for the window sills which needs replacing and should be of a stronger material. The window arch will remain intact and he will replace or repair the rectangular window. The opening mechanism is still being reviewed. Diane Heslop has volunteered to be an understudy and work with Michel on these six windows.
We believe the ideas that are being developed will bring the windows back to their original look but at the same time secure the building from future vandalism. We do need volunteers to help with these windows and anyone wishing to give the four to six hours required to strip the paint from the frames would be greatly appreciated. The cost is not finalized but we think the total cost for the window repairs should not be higher than 2,000 $ including the hardware and special glass panels.
The Stained Glass Window at the South end of the church is a real treasure. We are still at the preliminary stage with this. We have met with a stained glass artist, Charles Lefebvre of Lachute who has studied the window and believes that the repairs will cost an estimated $2,000. The stained glass window will be removed, repaired and then set in a new wood frame with a shatterproof glass protecting it from the outside. This window needs to be lit up at night so this feature and the ability to open and clean it are still being defined in the design. We hope to proceed with the repairing of this window in January or February 2010.
Other work still at the preliminary stage is a review of the electrical, heating, and ventilation in the church. A survey of the present installation will be made by an electrician and a decision will ensue.
Landscaping is still to be studied with a plan to be presented in the coming months. This project will commence in the spring.
Finally, next Spring, the pointing of the bricks will be done.
It was a very ambitious Capital Campaign and very extensive projects have been undertaken but the results are starting to show from the efforts and the research that has been done. The Community has a lot to be proud of as they have shown the leadership and commitment, in time and dollars, to the task at hand. To date over 300 hours of free community time has been donated to the project. The project Managers, Robert Percy and Michel Caron, continue to give of their unbelievable amounts of time and they have found that all they have to do is ask and the community just keeps on giving. A good example of this giving is Steve Roy. There were a few trees that needed to come down at the back of the church near the stained glass window. This was mentioned to Steve and a couple of days later he was there with all his equipment and skill to protect the stained glass window from the felling of these trees. Job well done thank you Steve! So many, like Steve, have been giving their time to secure the success of this project – it is impossible to mention and thank them all individually.
As more headway is made and decisions taken, we will continue to provide a report on the work and those decisions.
Although our repairs have been extensive we cannot lose sight of the fact that we need to leave the church in a strong financial position so that maintenance can be carried out in the years going forward. With this in mind, further donations will be gladly accepted to secure this position.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR DONATION AND YOUR INTEREST.