The Stabilization Project
St. Raphael’s church was constructed by Scottish pioneers between 1815 and 1821. It was built with Glengarry limestone and had a timber roof supported entirely on the massive stone masonry perimeter walls. Typically, the walls were built in two-wythe masonry construction with rubble infill. The exterior wythe consists of ashlar masonry using regular dressed stones while the interior wythe was built in roughly squared coursed rubble masonry. The interior was originally covered with painted lime plaster. The church was built without any columns and therefore provided an unobstructed view for 1000 people.
In the fall of 1970, fire destroyed the church interior and roof structure, leaving only the massive stone masonry walls. Soon after the devastation of the fire of 1970, the Ontario Heritage Foundation proceeded with a stabilisation project which resulted in capping the exposed top surface of the walls where the inner and outer stone walls bond to the soft lime mortar core. However, there are still areas where the dressed stone must be rebonded to the core. As well, the possibility of earthquakes required that the now-freestanding gables be pinned and anchored.
Initial stabilization measures were carried out in 1973 and 1986. However, it became evident over the years that more significant intervention was required to preserve this landmark.
In 1999, the Friends of the Ruins of St. Raphael successfully raised sufficient funds to complete Phase 3 of the stabilization efforts. This work included:
- structural stabilization of the gable walls using vertical prestressing rods
- pointing of all interior wall surfaces
- capping of window sills and interior foundation walls.
Since 1994 the Friends of the St Raphael’s Ruins, Inc. have raised over $740,000 locally and have spent $670,000 towards the fulfilment of our restoration engineering plan. This includes a fully documented structural appraisal by Keller Engineering of Ottawa as well as the installation of iron gates and raking and repointing of much of the interior walls using approved conservation materials and techniques.
The amount required for the completion of the plan was $480,000. This fund brought the stabilisation of the structure to a state that will only require regular custodial attention from this time on.