St. Joseph, River Canard Ontario
St. Joseph, River Canard
St. Joseph Church, River Canard, Ontario

In the days before the parish was founded, the families of River Canard had to travel to either St. John the Baptist Church in Amherstburg or to Assumption parish in Sandwich for Sunday masses and other religious services. The journey was difficult because of the primitive roads. Beginning in 1852, Father Laurent, a priest from St. John the Baptist, began to come to the area to say mass, visit the sick and carry out other religious services. Mass was celebrated at the house of Mr. Laurent Beneteau and Mr.Charles Beneteau.

In 1864, Father Francois Marseille saw a need for a parish to be developed in River Canard. At this time approximately 64 French Canadian families lived in this area. St. Joseph was chosen as the name for the parish because Father Marseille had a great devotion to this saint. The first chapel was built by the parishioners on land donated by Alexandre Beneteau. It was built approximately where the rectory driveway now stands. The chapel was a 16 x 14 foot wooden plank structure. In October 1864, the first mass was celebrated by Father Marseille assisted by Jeremie Renaud, the first altar boy.

In 1870, Father Marseille decided to construct the first church. It was situated on the spot on which the present church stands. The church measured 80 x 45 feet, and was of a gothic style. The church cost $400.00 to build. Imported statues of the Blessed Virgin, St. Joseph, St. Anthony, and St. Francis, still stand in our church today.

In October 1910, Father Marseille, age 83, retired to Hotel-Dieu Hospital in Windsor, where he died on September 26, 1914. He was the first person to be inhumed in the crypt of our present church.

Father Joseph Albert Loiselle replaced Father Marseille in 1910. As early as 1911, the first church was demolished and the construction of our present day church began by the energetic Father Loiselle. The new parish church was built of brick and stone and also contained a basement. Each able parishioner had to deliver his share of loads of materials. Crushed stone from the Amherstburg quarry, gravel from Leamington, and brick from Windsor. Thirty wagon loads back then are equivalent to one truck load today. On June 13, 1913, His Excellency, Monsignor F. Fallon, blessed the cornerstone of the church. On Sunday, April 18, 1915, the parishioners were officially allowed to enter the basement of the new church.

The first baptism in the new church was held on April 15, 1915. Marie Louise Cecile, born to Honore Beneteau and Elmira Bezaire, was baptized. The first marriage was the union of  Raymond Cousineau and Laura Cote on May 31, 1915. On September 16, 1916, at about 10:30 a.m., the church bells rang out for the first time. Mr. Louis Loiselle, brother of the priest, rang them.

Because of his hard work and dedication to the region, Father Loiselle decided to change the name of River Canard to Loiselleville. This change caused a lot of confusion within the post office because there was already a Louisville near Chatham and one in Quebec. A few years later, the parishioners decided to return to the original name of Riviere-aux-Canards.

Quoted from the St. Joseph Website