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Fire causes major damage to 182-year-old church west of Montreal

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A priest says she will rebuild a 182-year-old church near Montreal after it was seriously damaged in a fire over the weekend.

At around 9 a.m. on Sunday, Rev. Sophie Rolland was preparing for a mass at the St. James Anglican Church, on the shores of the Lake of Two Mountains, when she smelled smoke.

Firefighters from several departments were called to the scene on Sunday morning as flames broke out in the structure on Main Street in the municipality west of Montreal.

St. James Anglican Church in Hudson, Que. suffered a major fire on April 14, 2024. (Emanuel Lapointe)

The fire spread to the roof, which was gone on Monday. The bell tower, stone walls and stained glass windows remained intact but there was significant water and smoke damage inside.

It was an emotional day for residents of Hudson, a city about 50 kilometres west of Montreal.

Many stood in disbelief looking at what's left of the church, which was built in 1842.

"I just cannot believe the destruction that's been done," said Hudson resident Kip Caudrey.

A fire destroyed much of the historic St. James Anglican Church in Hudson, Que. on April 14, 2024. (Cosmo Santamaria, CTV News)

Hudson's mayor, Chloe Hutchison, shared a personal connection to the beloved building.

"The first reverend of St. James Church was my three times great grandfather. So for us, I think it has always been a place of pride and a place of commitment to the community," Hutchison told CTV News.

The church leadership is hoping to save irreplaceable items, including a wall of photos.

Rolland said the church is insured, but they don't know when they will rebuild.

"The hall and the basement offices were not as affected. So we're hoping that they can be in use earlier than the rest of the church," she said.

Firefighters remained on the scene well into Sunday night.

 

'It touches everybody'

The loss to the community is immense.

"This church is so important. First of course to our parishioners, but it touches so many in our community," said parishioner Lynn Bookalam on Sunday. "We have Christmas bazaars and people come here, and we have groups that rent our facilities... It touches so many people."

Bookalam said it is a popular spot for weddings, and different acts book the spot for performances as well.

 "People who don't necessarily come every Sunday are a part of our church," said Bookalam. "It touches everybody."

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