2019 Ecclesiastical Insurance Cornerstone Award (Transformative Projects)
As congregations continue to shrink, the question of what to do with old church buildings becomes increasingly pressing. Such a question arose for St. John’s Anglican Church in Chapleau, Ontario. The structure, built in 1908, is one of the last remaining historic structures in the township of 2,000, residents, and by 2015 was badly in need of repair. Jason Rioux, born and raised in Chapleau, agreed to purchase the building and lease back the chapel to the congregation for a nominal fee, so that their worship can continue. Working with Small, a not-for-profit that assists with adaptive reuse projects in small communities, Rioux converted the basement of the old church into a multi-use space conceived of by the whole town.
Now, the space serves as a hub to spur and support local entrepreneurs and hosts a licensed restaurant that serves wood-fired oven pizza. It also offers a shared space often used by fitness programs, children and youth programming, women’s shelter meetings and weekly movie nights. The Chapleau Hub serves as a great example of community involvement in an adaptive reuse project, with the potential to inspire similar projects across the country.
Owner/Developer: Jason Rioux, President, CRH Ventures Corp.
Key Players: Victoria Cheng, Project Operations; and Heather Campbell, Program Manager, Culture of small
Project Sponsor: Bishop Tom Corston, Anglican Diocese
The Chapleau Hub project was nominated by Jason Rioux, President, CRH Ventures Corp.