When the first teams of workers for the C.P.R. arrived in the Sudbury area in the spring of 1883, the Jesuit priests were already working among the natives and in the missions established along the sections of railroad that had already been built.  The previous year, Father Joseph Specht had answered the call of the railroad company which was seeking Jesuit chaplains to provide for the spiritual needs of its Catholic employees in New Ontario.  In March of 1883, Father Specht celebrated the first mass on Sudbury soil. Father Specht ministered to the railroad workers until the arrival of his replacement, Father Jean-Baptiste Nolin.

Sainte-Anne-des-Pins circa 1889. Photo courtesy of the Greater Sudbury Historical Database.Father Jean-Baptiste Nolin settled in Sudbury at the same time as a group of railway workers.  He built a small house which he converted into a stable and it was not until autumn that he undertook the task of building a rectory; one that is still used today.  In the attic, he fixed up a relatively spacious chapel (which was inaugurated at Christmas).  Father Nolin, inspired by the magnificent pine forest that covered the region, named the mission Sainte-Anne-des-Pins.  At this time, the mission was part of the Diocese of Peterborough.

The rectory/chapel served as the home base for the Jesuits who ministered to the scattered population along the railroad. There were three Jesuits sharing a very extensive territory and even though they were constantly on the road, the various missions had Sunday mass only once a month.

In 1884, the Sudbury mission numbered about fifty families and provisions had to be made for the education of the children.  Father Nolin converted the rectory/chapel into a rectory/chapel/school.  He organized an evening of drama and music to cover initial expenses and classes began in April.

The chapel would continue to provide liturgical needs until the construction of a church a few years later.


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