Field of Dreams: if you build it, they will come!

Back from the holidays!
October 19, 2010, 11:29 am
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Marilyn and I enjoyed a wonderful trip to Canada, starting in Halifax, Nova Scotia, a city and province we had not previously visited. Halifax is a most historic city, one of the first British settlements in North America. I was moved to learn that the founder, Edward Cornwallis, once the necessary defences had been erected, had decreed that the first civic building should be the Church. St Paul’s was constructed from pre-cut and numbered timbers brought up from New England, and is evocative of its period. We were amused to see a section of pews designated a “scent-free area”- not a reference to incense, but to the heavy perfume of some of the ladies!

There is a small TAC parish in Halifax, dedicated to St Aidan, but although I was able to look at the outside on the Friday, logistics precluded attendance on the Sunday. However, I was able to exchange e-mail greetings with Bishop Craig Botterill, QC, who is in charge. The TAC in Canada needs our prayers as it prepares for its own Ordinariate.

From Halifax we went by the overnight Ocean train to Quebec, that pearl of French Canada. I visited and prayed at the shrine of Blessed Francois de Laval, the first Bishop, to whom I have had a devotion since my first visit to the city thirteen years ago. He was a truly great pastor, look him up on the web! The museum of French North America, housed in part of the Seminary founded by Laval, is also worth visiting, with fascinating information on the work of the first missionaries (today, by the way, is the feast of the first Canadian martyrs, killed by the Huron and Iroquois). There is also a fine exhibition on the life and work of the Augustinian sisters, who pioneered health services in the City and Province. Their work is also commemorated in murals on the wall of their original buildings, quite near our hotel.

From Quebec we moved on (with a one-night stop in Montreal) to Cobourg on Lake Ontario, to visit an old friend, and then on to Toronto for almost a week. I love Toronto, so cosmopolitan and friendly. There are miles (literally) of underground shopping and eating facilities (“The Path”) in which during the severe winters people can carry on a normal life without needing to venture outside. We arrived on Sunday afternoon and attended Mass at St Michael’s Cathedral at 5.00 pm, finding it almost packed. There was another Mass at 9.00 pm as well, “with guitars”! Next day was Canadian Thanksgiving Day, very like our Harvest Ferstival, but a public hilday. We went by tube and bus to the Black Creek Pioneer village, where on the site of one of the first farms a whole village of original pioneer buildings has been created. As befitted Thanksgiving, we were given a slice of pumpkin pie in the kitchen of the farmhouse.When we got back to our hotel, we found that the special menu was the traditional Roast Turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and all the trimmings! We did indeed feel very thankful!

The following day we went on the suburban “GO” train to Oshawa on the Lake, where we met for the first time Marilyn’s (third) cousin Shirley, who took us to visit some sites we could not have reached without a car. We found the graves (in separate Quaker burial grounds) of Marilyn’s grandparents and great-grandparents, and saw the house, now rather altered, in which her grandparents had lived, by Musselman’s Lake, named after her family.

The other highlights of our stay were the Art Gallery of Ontario, with its extensive collection of Canadian art of the nineteenth century, and the visiting exhibition of the “Terracotta Army” from China at the Royal Ontario Museum. On Saturday evening we attened the 5.00 pm Mass at St Michael’s again (and again packed- and there were four or five Sunday Masses next day) before collecting our luggage, and heading for the airport and home. It was great, but it is good to be back!


3 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Hopefully when the English Ordinariates are up and running, you’ll have the pleasure of presiding at masses as packed as St. Michaels!

Comment by Terry

Quebec is afraid to look at it’s own dark side and needs first to get it’s own house in order…

Comment by thenonconformer

Dear nonconformer, I have cut your comment because I was simply musing on the inspiring example of the first missionaries. However justified your grievancies regarding the present-day Quebec government and health service- and I am in no position to judge- my blog is not an appriopriate forum in which to air them. Sorry!

Comment by Fr Paul Spilsbury SSC

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