The French-Canadian parish meets not only the religious needs of the community, it is also the social core. Schools, cultural societies, newspapers and charitable organizations that care for the sick and the poor radiate from the parish. The parish also organizes leisure and sports. Ottawa is the prime example.
The city and its suburbs quickly develop a network of French-speaking parishes, with eight in existence by the turn of the 20th century. The larger the parish, the more diverse its works, including patriotic festivals and associated groups such as the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul.
The historical work prepared by Lucien Brault in 1973 for the centenary of Ottawa’s Sainte-Anne Parish illustrates how the parish has rapidly made of Lowertown East an “organized community.”1
It is at the invitation of the first parish priest, Jean-Baptiste-Théodore Alleau, that the Sisters of Charity, first known as the Grey Nuns, come to take charge of Sainte-Anne School, which already teaches 190 pupils after less than one year of existence. Two of the three classes are reserved for French-speaking students. The Brothers of the Christian Schools do the same for educating boys in what will become Brébeuf School. The school is the natural complement of the parish in Lowertown East, as they are in Ottawa’s other Francophone neighbourhoods. Wishing to offer his parishioners a gathering place, Parish Priest Alleau builds Sainte-Anne Hall next to the church. It meets many needs: religious, of course, as well as recreational, artistic and cultural. It also becomes the site of numerous patriotic demonstrations. Many associations and religious works, along with cultural, mutual and recreational societies, are born in the bosom of the parish in the years following its foundation.
1 Lucien Brault, Sainte-Anne d’Ottawa. Cent ans d’histoire. 1873-1973, Ottawa, p. 5 (translated from the original).
Cover page of the Bulletin de la paroisse Sainte-Anne d'Ottawa, vol. 17, no 2, June 1933
Source: University of Ottawa, CRCCF, Fonds Paroisse Sainte-Anne d'Ottawa (C72), C72-10-Bull-06-1933.