Environmental concerns forces demolition of historic Chapleau church
TIMMINS -- After standing for 120 years in Chapleau, Ont., the building that most recently housed the Anglican Church Women's Second Hand Store was demolished Tuesday due to an oil leak.
Larry Armstrong, Archdeacon of Moosonee and parish priest, told CTV the leak contaminated the soil beneath the historic building and that it would be too costly to save it.
"We all shed some tears," said Armstrong. "Its one of these things where a lot of our older buildings are no longer easily managed."
It was a bittersweet moment for parishioner Shirley Goheen, who was warden for the building. She said she first noticed the oil leak in March and that, in a sense, it's a relief that the five-month endeavour to demolish the town landmark is over.
"There were several of the congregation there to see it coming down," Goheen said. "It's going to be hard on the whole community because a lot of people depended on the building."
First built as the town's original Anglican church in the late 1800s, it spent the last 13 years selling low-cost goods, giving free items to those in need and fundraising for the St. John's Anglican Church.
Goheen said there are fond memories of providing for people affected by fires, worshiping within its walls and meeting with ministers.
Demolition took four hours
The demolition took around four hours and Goheen said even people who have since moved from Chapleau are going to miss it.
But Armstrong said there's opportunity now to build a more modern religious centre for the area.
"Like from a scripture in Jeremiah, out of the ashes, a crown of joy," Armstrong said. "We're hoping that something can happen and we'll see."
But Armstrong said money is tight for the Diocese of Moosonee, which manages the region's Anglican churches, so the Chapleau Anglican Church Women would need to raise the money.
Goheen said they'll take time to recover from an emotional event and revisit the idea in the spring. But a new building would need some additions.
"I would hope, for a small church, with a social gathering room and an office," Goheen said. "And, if possible, we could raise enough money to put another small second-hand store."