St. Joachim Church


After four long years and one significant legal victory the members of Save Our Sanctuaries (SOS), a mostly francophone group headed by David Tremblay, have lost neither their commitment nor their fight to save the 121-year-old St. Joachim Church, one of the last remaining sentinels of French-Canadian life in Essex County in Southwestern Ontario.

Fearful that their francophone constitutional rights would be violated with the proposed demolition by the Catholic Diocese of London, SOS took their case to an Ontario Divisional Court panel in May 2003. In a landmark victory, the ruling put an indefinite hold on the demolition of St. Joachim and ordered that the Town of Lakeshore reconsider SOS’s application to designate the property under the Ontario Heritage Act. (It was ruled that the Town had violated the Act when it passed a resolution in March 2002 requiring the owner’s consent before a consideration for designation could take place.)

In August of last year, SOS offered to buy the church proposing that a community co-operative be formed to purchase it and the nearby rectory for $120,000. In the end, the Town refused and the Diocese continues to argue for the demolition. Hopefully, the second request for designation will be considered after the new heritage committee is formed.

Location: Lakeshore, Ontario

Top 10 Endangered Places List: 2005

Status: Saved

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