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The ruins of St. Matilda’s Church

August 2022

The small Ontario town of Marmora is home to the preserved ruins of St Matilda’s Church, a church that dates back to the early days of the Province of Upper Canada.

Built in 1828, under the supervision of Anthony Manahan, the small 43 foot by 25 foot church was built on the west shore of the Crowe River, built using limestone quarried from a pit just 200 feet away.

The low-pitched gable roof had a Spanish atmosphere about it.  The interior was plain and simple, with a stone chimney in the south-west corner. The ceiling was lathe and plaster, following the rafters until it approached the apex of the roof, where it was rounded or curved slightly instead of continuing to the angle of the gable.   The floor was wide, clear pine planks.

Positioned on the peak of the roof was an iron cross, constructed in the Ironworks across the river.

While it was originally founded and attended by Catholic families of the area, the first Catholic Church in the area, St Matilda’s nonetheless served all faiths.

The old stone church was abandoned in 1875, as was the cemetery, and left to crumble. The roof and parts of the walls eventually collapsed.

What was left of the little St Matilda’s Church was restored beginning in 1952. At the time, there were three window arches left, but two have since been picked apart by scavangers.

A lone tombstone can be found just to the north of the church ruins, along the treeline, bearing the name of 14-year-old Margret Hughes, who died in 1825. The stone had been re-located to this spot during the restoration in the early 1960s.

The ruins of the St. Matilda’s Church can be found on the Crowe Valley Conservation Authority land at 108 Hughes Lane in Marmora. Park at the end of the road and follow the trail a short distance.

Sources: St. Matilda’s Church Marmora – KARA (kawarthagenealogy.ca), St. Matilda’s — MarmoraHistory.ca.

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

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