St. Paul's church in Aylmer is obviously not in Centretown, but it's in the Ottawa area and its ruins will be demolished today. It was consumed by fire after it was struck by arsonist on the evening of June 11, 2009, and has been in ruin ever since. Click on this 3D photo to see it full screen for better effect:
A number of people posted videos of the fire to YouTube, including this shocking one of the high wooden steeple falling into a plume of fire.
A colleague of mine who lives within sight of the church sent me photos the following day, including this one:
When I was in the area a couple of months later, in August 2009, I snapped this photo, which shows signs of some tidying up of the stone walls:
St. Paul's church was a focal point of the town of Aylmer, which was home to many of my ancestors, for example: my grandmother was born in and grew up in a house practically across the street from the church, and her father was Mayor of Aylmer for a few years in the first half of the 20th century (as was his brother-in-law). Both married their respective spouses at St. Paul's.
Recent articles in the Ottawa Citizen and CBC summarize the bureaucratic gridlock that led to the decision to demolish the remains. That conclusion was partly due to the church not being insured sufficiently to allow a full reconstruction, partly due to the local governments' unwillingness to preserve the heritage, and largely due to lawyers' overabundance of caution.
In anticipation of the imminent demolition, I went by for the last time this past Christmas Day to take some 3D photos for posterity.
At least in Centretown, when the Somerset House partially collapsed, we held on to what is left until it can be restored. By contrast, once you tear the buliding down, it's gone forever. Then it, and the history it represents, is easily forgotten.
Which do you remember better: Ottawa's former City Hall at Elgin and Queen, or Lisgar Collegiate Institute?
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