In downtown Oakville is a church almost as old as the town itself. Just before Reynolds Street meets the lake stands St. Andrew’s, presiding over the Catholic community of Oakville as when it was first built in 1840.
Recently, the church was a recipient of the Heritage Grant program.
According to the city’s website, this program exists to help owners of heritage properties with the conservation costs associated with maintaining the integrity of these historic buildings.
St. Andrew’s Catholic Church received $13,500 to repair the steeple. Under the terms of the Heritage Grant, recipients of the program must match the contribution made by the Town of Oakville.
The church is one of many historic buildings in downtown Oakville. In fact, throughout his 182 years, he was responsible for the construction of several other structures that are now considered heritage properties by the City.
St. Mary’s School, located at 343 King Street, was the first Catholic school established in Halton. It also served the regions of Peel and Dufferin. The nuns who taught at the school were housed in a property southwest of the church called the Guest House. It still stands today. St. Mary’s School was demolished in 1987.
After the church sold this property, a building was erected north of the church in 1858 to serve as a new convent. Today it exists as a parish center for local Catholics, hosting group events and fostering connections among community members.
In the church itself, the devotional artwork not only tells the story of the faith of the church’s parishioners, but also that of the parishioners themselves who built, lived and worshiped within its walls.
The stained glass windows that adorn the sides of the sanctuary ostensibly represent various saints of the Catholic religion, but references to the community are subtly included in their composition.
- The shamrocks represent the Irish Catholic community, whose members have made up a large part of St. Andrew’s parish since its inception.
- The oak leaves naturally represent the town of Oakville, now in its 195th year.
- The poppies honor the many Oakvillian Catholics who gave their lives during the World Wars.
Throughout the rich history of St. Andrew’s Church, the sense of community has remained prevalent. This was by no means exclusive to Catholics.
In the early years, the church provided assistance to other groups who belonged to opposing sects of the Christian tradition. Members of the Catholic community helped build and maintain Presbyterian churches, and vice versa.
The church maintains a well-preserved record of its history and, by default, of Oakville’s colonial history itself.
St. Andrew’s is one of this city’s oldest institutions, and the recent Heritage Grant endowment is helping to preserve it and other pieces of living history. For those wishing to learn more, a visit to the church is highly recommended.
As Oakville approaches its 200th anniversary and time does its work on the remnants of days gone by, programs like the Heritage Grant provide a valuable service in preserving the stories of yesterday for the people of tomorrow.