HISTORY OF OUR PARISH
What started as a small country parish has grown into a place of refuge in the midst of a bustling urban landscape.
The roots of St. Augustine Parish go back to the years immediately after World War II. The federal government through the Wartime Housing Corporation (now CMHC), created hundreds of housing lots in the area around St. Augustine Parish by purchasing farms and selling the lots to veterans at reasonable prices, under the War Veterans Act of 1946. Carleton Heights was established as a community in 1947.
Many of the families in the growing community were Roman Catholic. The neighbourhood was well beyond the city limits of Ottawa, with few decent roads, and the nearest Catholic Church being St. George's Parish, on Picadilly Avenue, approximately five miles away. In 1950 Archbishop Vachon received a petition from Catholics living in the new community asking for a church of their own. The archbishop was hampered by a shortage of diocesan clergy. Accordingly he undertook negotiations with the Augustinian order in New York State, asking them to establish a presence in the archdiocese and take charge of the new parish. In January 1953, Rome approved the establishment of an Augustinian monastery in Ottawa. A 30 acre farm – once the property of famed lumber baron J.R. Booth was purchased on Baseline Road.
Old Tool Shed. In June 1953, a young priest named Father Cyril Smetana, arrived from New York and aided by several Augustinian brothers and local volunteers, set about turning the farm into a monastery. Hard work and dedication soon turned the Victorian Era farmhouse into a monastery and rectory with a small chapel, given the name St. Austin Heights. On November 1953, St. Augustine's was officially declared a parish. Father Oswald Malzer, O.S.A., was appointed administrator, becoming pastor in 1955. An old tool shed on the property was converted into a temporary church; it later became a Knights of Columbus Hall. This modest little church seated 200 people on folding chairs. The first Mass was celebrated on December 5, 1953. In May 1954, the parish was officially assigned to St. Augustine's monastery by the Holy See.
Permanent Church. Even with four Sunday masses the church soon proved inadequate. In September 1954, parishioners decided to build a permanent church and hall that would accommodate the rapidly growing population of the area. Construction began in July 1955 and midnight mass was held in the completed basement on Christmas Eve.
The first mass was held in the church proper on July 8, 1956 and the official blessing by Archbishop Lemieux on August 27.
The new red brick church seated 600 people, three times the size of the original.