Monument represents francophone history
A piece of Welland history now stands on the grounds of Sacre-Coeur church.
On Sunday, a monument dedicated to and made up of pieces of the old church was unveiled. The monument is the old church’s entry way, minus the doors.
Although the structure itself has been visible from the road, the unveiling of the stained-glass window was what attracted the interest of parishioners and the general public.
The monument was erected to commemorate the old church, which was too costly to repair.
“Once the decision was taken to demolish the building, the first step was to reach out to the families who had donated the stained-glass windows for the church back in 1934,” said Daniel Roy, who helped spearhead an initiative to preserve the church’s history.
At the time, he didn’t know it would be such a big deal.
“Having grown up across the street, to me those windows were simply windows, something from the past without meaning,” Roy said. “But after hearing the stories from the families who explained to me why they had donated their window, it really touched me.”
Roy said the idea for the monument came to him because of the O’Reilly’s Bridge monument that was erected to commemorate the old bridge.
For a while, the archway window went unclaimed, but finally Loretta Porter got in touch with him about it.
The window was put in the archway in 1934, donated by Anna Howard, Porter’s mother. She had donated the window in memory of her husband who died and left her a widow at a young age. Her husband had been good friends with then pastor Rosario Tanguay.
Roy asked Porter if they could use the window as part of the memorial monument and she agreed.
“I’m very excited that they’re using something that my mother dedicated to the church,” Porter said.
She said although her family isn’t of French heritage, her family does attend the church and has had weddings, baptisms and confirmations there.
She thinks her mother would be happy to know that a piece of the family is staying with the church.
At the unveiling ceremony, Roy thanked the many parties involved in the construction and funding of the monument and surrounding informational plaques.
Welland Mayor Frank Campion and Niagara Centre MP Vance Badawey both spoke highly of the French community in Welland and congratulated francophones on their achievements.
Rev. Julien Beaulieu, the parish priest, said the monument is a permanent representation of the French church and of French Welland.
To thank Roy for all he had done for the church and getting the monument erected, he presented him with a picture frame that had all the old church’s keys inside of it.
Credits: Laura Barton, firstname.lastname@example.org. Photo credits: Laura Barton/Welland Tribune