The first settlers came to Grande-Digue around 1770, among them were Michel Haché and Joseph Caissie (Quessy), followed by the families of Pierre and Joseph Arsenault, Sylvestre Gallant, and Joseph Poirier. These settlers are considered the founders of the Grande-Digue parish.
Soon after their arrival, a first chapel was built on the shore not far from the present church. Later, in 1803, Most Rev. Denaut, Bishop of Quebec, ordered construction of a new chapel. This second chapel, nearby, was named Our Lady of the Visitation and served as a place of worship for 32 years.
The construction of a new church with its U-shaped loft and seating for 800, began around 1828 and welcomed the faithful in 1835.
During the last 175 years, the church has undergone several transformations. The famous church bell (named Mary), weighing 1,351 lbs., was purchased in 1865. It finally found a permanent home in a new steeple built in 1890. A sacristy was also built that same year.
In the late 1960’s, the main altar and both lateral altars were dismantled. In 1998, they were replaced by three altars of a similar style which were salvaged from Saint John the Baptist Church, Lynn, Mass., which was being demolished. These altars date back to 1905.
It is probably the oldest wooden church still being used in New Brunswick. In 2035 the parish will celebrate the 200th anniversary of its construction.
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