135 Barette Street
A cornerstone of the area’s Francophone heritage and a dominant building on Beechwood Avenue, Saint-Charles Church is a living symbol of the Francophone presence in Vanier.
Saint-Charles Church was built on a wooded lot donated by J.C. Keefer in 1908 to meet the needs of parishioners who felt that Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes and Saint-Anne d’Ottawa churches were too far from their homes.
The new red brick church became the centre of a parish that extended across both sides of Beechwood Avenue. The first parish priest was a Monfortain, Father Louis-Marie Fillaudeau. He left the parish in 1912 to become the Superior at the Montfortain House in Dorval, near Montreal. His replacement, Father Francois-Xavier Barrette, completed the construction of the presbytery and the church hall in 1913. The latter is no longer standing.
Originally, the church was ornately decorated, but in 1969, it underwent extensive renovations and lost most of its decorations, gaining a more modern and sober look. The church can hold up to 300 parishioners.
The Birthplace of the Order of Jacques-Cartier…
The secret society of the Commandeurs de l’Ordre de Jacques- Cartier was formed on October 22, 1926 at the presbytery of Saint-Charles Parish. It was the brainchild of parish priest François-Xavier Barrette and a small group of French Canadian civil servants. The mandate of this exclusively male society was to ensure the public interest of the French-speaking Catholics in Canada by training elite workers to promote their interests, in the public or in the private sector, while countering the influence of Anglo-Protestant societies (such as Freemasonry).
The power of the Ordre could be felt in all aspects of life in French Canada, until its dissolution in Ottawa on February 27, 1965. The breakdown of the Ordre is believed to be the consequence of the Quiet Revolution in Quebec and implied, for several researchers, the end of French Canada.
At its peak, the Ordre had 504 local groups divided into 1140 communities. The number of members may have exceeded 11000 in 1960. The Ordre de Jacques-Cartier has developed various groups and organizations, among which we find the Fédération des caisses populaires de l’Ontario and the Richelieu international, composed today of 275 clubs, including 8 in Ottawa.