On May 1st 1870 our very first priest Fr Lapierre celebrated mass in a chapel. Twenty years later the stone church was built.
The parish was legally created in 1875. It is what canon law (church law) calls a territorial church, not linked to any particular language but to the territory of Point Saint Charles. In fact for 8 years the church served both the English and the French catholics of the Point. Then in 1883 the French parish, Saint Charles was founded and it's church erected in the lot next to Saint Gabriel's!
For many years the English speaking community grew and spawned initiatives which had effects beyond the boundaries of the parish.One of these initiatives brought the Presentation Brothers to Montreal.
Then in 1956 the church was destroyed by fire, except for the stone walls. But as always, the people of the Point rose to the occasion and the church was rebuilt, though with a different style. And the steeple was never rebuilt.
Over the years the number of English-speaking Catholics in the Point decreased, but many former residents, and in fact many others from the greater Montreal area adopted St Gabriel's as their own.
The Irish in particular are very fond of the parish. For many years, two Sundays before St Patrick's day, a popular mass of anticipation has been celebrated in the church. And on the last Sunday of May, after Sunday mass, there is a walk from the church to the Stone at the foot of Victoria bridge. It is there that so many Irish, and many French Canadians who cared for them, died of typhus.
So today our christian community is different, enriched by people of other cultures, vibrant and open to all ( still with a special love for the Irish). The church building has been fixed (roof, walls etc ) and a lift for the physically handicaped has just been added. We look to the future with optimism and enthusiasm. Please come and visit.
The priests who served as pastors at St Gabriel's:
Fr John J. Salmon, 1875-1886
Fr Thomas McCarthy, 1886-1890
Canon William O'Meara, 1990- 1919
Canon James S. McCrory, 1919-1927
Fr Thomas W. O'Reilly, 1919- 1935
Fr Thomas A. Bracken, 1935- 1957
Fr George F. Thoms, 1958 - 1963
Fr John P. Ryan, 1963 - 1973
Fr (later Bishop) Neil Willard 1973- 1980
Fr Murray McCrory 1980 - 2000
Fr John Lyng 2000- 2001
Fr James McDonald 2001 .....
Other priests who served:
Frs Martineau, Leduc, Hoyden, Brissette, Cordier, Nugent Desnoyers, Thibault, Gadoury, Brown
Forget, Ducharme, Riley, Brosseau, Fahey
Robillard, McGinnis, Shea, Pelletier, Casey Heffernan,Vrydaegs, Jimmy Flood, Frank Walsh, O'Hagan
Devlin, McDonald,Singleton,Gorman, Jones, Sutton, Burke, Mooney, Hall, Carley, Tom McEntee, Fitzpatrick, Michael McKenna,
Many will fondly remember Fr Peter McGlynn who served in the 60s and Fr Walter Lallemand who lived in the rectory for many years in the 90s, as well as Fr Xavier McInerney and Fr Robert Harris (now bishop).
Sister Alice Demers served the parish for more than 55 years !!!
Photos of St Gabriel's fire in 1956 sent by Perry Burton and Carlo Pietroniro
See below photos of many priests and of the 1956 fire
From Mtl Fire dept. archives