The Martyrs’ Shrine
Along the road to find the perfect Fall colours in Central Ontario, we stopped at the Martyrs’ Shrine which is just outside of Midland. The Shrine is a Roman Catholic church which is consecrated to the memory of the Canadian Martyrs’, six Jesuit Martyrs and two lay persons from the mission of Sainte-Marie among the Hurons. It is one of nine National Shrines in Canada,including, among others, St. Joseph Oratory in Montreal and the Basilica of Saint-Anne-de-Beaupre.
In 1907, Dennis O’Conner, Archbishop of Toronto, consecrated a small chapel at Waubaushene, near the site where Sts. Jean de Brebeuf and Gabriel Lalemant were martyred. In 1925, Fr. John Filion, provincial superior of Jesuits in Canada, decided to pursue the construction of a larger church closer to the mission, and purchased the Standin farm in Midland, across the road from Sainte-Marie.
Construction began that year, using some materials from the Waubaushene church and others donated by lumber companies in Northern Ontario. Pews, stained glass windows, Stations of the Cross and an altar were donated by churches in London and Toronto. The interior, shaped like an overturned canoe, was designed and built by Ildège Bourrie. Construction on the shrine was completed by the winter of 1925, and the shrine was oficially consecrated on June 25, 1926 by Cardinal William Henry O’Connell of Boston.