Ottawa

Churchgoers try to prove Franco-Ontarien church is worth keeping

A church one history buff calls one of the most beautiful francophone churches in the province may close, fear parishioners around Fournier, Ont.

Parishioners fear for future of église Saint-Bernard in Fournier, Ont.

Église Saint-Bernard on Chemin Comté 10 in Fournier, Ont., is about 70 kilometres east of downtown Ottawa. (Denis Babin/Radio-Canada)

A church one history buff calls one of the most beautiful francophone churches in the province may close, fear parishioners around a small eastern Ontario community.

Église Saint-Bernard was built in the 1880s in Fournier, south of Alfred and Plantagenet.

The Archdoicese of Ottawa plans to merge that parish with the parish in Saint-Isidore once its new church opens in the coming months, leading Saint-Bernard's regulars to fear what may happen to their building.

"I have no hesitation in saying this is one of the most beautiful Franco-Ontarien churches," said Michel Prévost of Société de l'histoire de l'Outaouais.

"We consulted religious art experts and they told us we have a jewel here," said Michel-André Lavergne — of the church association l'Amicale de l'église Saint-Bernard — in a French interview with Radio-Canada.

The Archdiocese of Ottawa plans to decide on the church's future within three years. (Denis Babin/Radio-Canada)

His group has been doing guided tours of the building for the last three months to raise awareness about its story.

"I was amazed by the interior," said Jean Clermont, one of about 20 people taking one of the tours this weekend.

Église Saint-Bernard was built in the 1880s in Fournier, Ont. The Archdoicese of Ottawa plans to merge that parish with the parish in Saint-Isidore once its new church opens in the coming months, leading Saint-Bernard's regulars to fear what may happen to their building. 1:06

Some parishioners said they're still frustrated the municipality of The Nation voted against a heritage designation for the church in 2018.

They also point out the church is an important hub for the community, which recently saw a school and businesses shut down.

The archdiocese plans to decide on this church's future within three years.

With files from Radio-Canada's Denis Babin

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