Summer Hours

Tuesday-Friday
9AM - 5PM
Saturday
10AM - 4PM
Sunday-Monday
Closed

Winter Hours

Tuesday-Saturday
10AM - 4PM
Sunday-Monday
Closed

St. Michael's Museum & Genealogical Centre (1980-Present)

Almost without exception, Roman Catholic parishes have neglected to record or transmit to future generations any significant account of the events that occurred, shaped, and made the history of the parish. Paradoxically, and again without exception, there exists in every Roman Catholic parish a meticulously completed record of every marriage, baptism and death within its geographical boundary. Unfortunately, as recorded history, such records are but a skeleton, a framework, and at most a starting point with which significant events must be correlated and fleshed out to form history.

To remedy such a situation became the precise aim of a small group of eight people who met at St. Michael's Rectory, Chatham, NB, January 9, 1974. The minutes of that meeting state "… at the invitation of Rev. B.M. Broderick a small group of St. Michael's parishioners met … to discuss the idea of starting a history of St. Michael's Parish". Mr. John Connell was appointed chairman and Mrs. F. H. Barry, secretary.

The first significant project of the group, under the direction of John Connell, was the establishing of a display in the unused part of St. Michael's Basilica, known as the Lady Chapel. This display of artifacts, pictures, church vestments, etc. continues to be of interest for local people and has become an attraction for tourists who see the landmark, St. Michael's Basilica, and stop by for a visit. Each year since 1974, the organization has employed by way of government grants a number of students for the summer months. In addition to meeting visitors and conducting tours in French and English, the students have copied and filed records, documents, and articles of historical value. One of the gratifying aspects of providing employment for students is to see an interest grow and expand and in more than one instance open a door to an established career.

Much effort and cooperation on the part of numerous individuals accomplished the restoration and renovation of the Old Rectory. Mr. John Connell supervised the undertaking and was instrumental in obtaining government grants and donations from several foundations. Mr. Robert Power, an architect, and a native of Chatham, freely donated his expertise in indicating the exact position of original walls, fireplaces, and stairway, etc. Sister Maud McElwee was a source of inspiration for all associated with the project. Near 90 years old at the beginning of the project, she was truly a link between the struggles of the pioneer days and the present. To see the building restored and utilized became an earnest desire she wished to see accomplished before death called her home.

The required finances came from a number of sources: Provincial and Federal government grants, donations from the Beaverbrook Foundation, Bronfman Foundation, Department of Historical Resources of New Brunswick, The Diocese of Saint John, St. Michael's Parish, Imperial Oil, former students of St. Joseph School, and numerous individuals who made contributions from $5.00 to $1,000.00. An expenditure of more than $66,000.00 was required before the project was completed and readied for the eventful day of June 28, 1981, when the old Rectory was officially opened and declared an historic site by a representative of the Department of Historical Resources of the Province of New Brunswick.

Source: Rev. B.M. Broderick

The Fire of 1979

On Monday, April 29, 1979, a grass fire that ran out of control scorched a corner of one of Chatham's most historic buildings. This little house, built as the parish rectory in 1846, was declared "the Bishop Rogers Centennial Museum" in 1969 - to mark the hundredth anniversary of the Religious Hospitallers of St. Joseph in Chatham, NB.

The Sisters, in 1979, entrusted this building and its contents to St. Michael's Museum Association and the move was made on June 2, 1979 to its present site. The cost of the move was four thousand dollars and was contracted to Bruno Babin of St. Louis de Kent. Another contract for excavation and pouring a cement foundation was awarded to J.L. Thompson Company of Loggieville for $3586.00. An interesting comparison of the 1979 move to the transfer of the building in 1931 can be seen in the following document.


Planting of the Red Maple

Planting of the Red Maple to commemorate Father Broderick's 60th Anniversary of Ordination, October 1999.

Centre Rev. B.M. Broderick
Vincent McCarthy
Left to Right: Lillian Barry
Stephen Quinn
Sr. Mary Fitzpatrick
Sr. Margaret Woods
Earle English
Anne McKendy
Anna Springer
Caroline Daley

The Friendship Garden

In June 1998, extensive exterior repairs and painting improved the outside appearance of St. Michael's Museum. The summer of 1998 saw the demolition of Chatham's fourth Hotel Dieu Hospital (1913 - 1996) and stones from the site were transferred to the museum (the First Hotel Dieu (1869 - 1870)) for a Friendship Garden. Financial contributions for this project came from the Hotel Dieu Hospital Nurses Alumnae, the medical staff of Hotel Dieu, St. Thomas College Alumni, and several generous individual donations.

The Friendship Garden bloomed for the first time in the summer of 2000 due to careful planning and hard work of Viola Martin and Peter Moar. For many years, Mrs. V. Martin has overseen the care and development of the St. Michael's Parish flower garden, which now includes and complements the Friendship Garden.

The Friendship Garden Committee has also planted perennials and annuals around the museum building. In 1998, stone from the steps leading to the Grotto on the grounds of the old Hotel Dieu Convent was used to build a new front entry and walkway to St. Michael's Museum and Genealogical Centre. These steps were built by Elwood Brown in 1998 and the planter (Friendship Garden) was erected by Stephen Allison in 1999.

Centre Rev. B.M. Broderick
Vincent McCarthy
Left to Right: Lillian Barry
Stephen Quinn
Sr. Mary Fitzpatrick
Sr. Margaret Woods
Earle English
Anne McKendy
Anna Springer
Caroline Daley