Saint-Joseph, Jesuit Mission

The first missionary to Rayside-Balfour was Father H. Caron, S.J. At the time, the missions of Blezard Valley and Hanmer reported to the Chelmsford parish. In 1889, the church provided land and money to build the first school.

The parishioners were divided when it came time to build a church. The Canadian Pacific Railway had donated a lot in the Township of Rayside but there were more inhabitants living in the Township of Balfour. It was also believed that new arrivals would prefer to settle near the church, which would increase the value of land in the village where the chapel was located.

Construction started in the Township of Rayside, but the chapel was destroyed by fire before work was completed. Under the direction of Father Joseph Grenier, construction started again in 1891, this time in the Village of Chelmsford. Few parishioners could contribute financially to the chapel but they willingly volunteered their time and skills to the church's construction. This chapel, built of planks from the Phineas Coyne's sawmill, would serve the community until 1912.

In 1902, Blezard Valley separated from the Saint-Joseph parish in Chelmsford. Two years later, both of these parishes were transferred to the Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie which had just been formed.


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