NAME: Godmanchester
COUNTY: St-Anicet
CLIMATE: Snow in winter. Warm summer.
COMMENTS: Situated on chemin de la Rivière La Guerre, 1 mile west of the Quesnel and Rivière La Guerre intersection. You can see the Gothic Revival style church from the road behind the barns on the Irving Brothers Farm, 1498 Chemin Rivière de LaGuerre
REMAINS: Calvin Presbyterian Church (built in 1851). Some of the lath and plaster on the interior walls is still just visible, grave stones,
Founded in 1820 by scottish Alexander McBain. At one time the site of Calvin Presbyterian Church was centre of a thriving village, known as "Godmanchester Village" or the "Village of LaGuerre". The name "Godmanchester" came from Godmanchester Township to which this spot belonged before St. Anicet Parish was established. The names for "LaGuerre River" and the "Village of LaGuerre" came from François Benoît dit La Guerre who lumbered on the banks of the river at the turn of the 19th Century.It was in 1820 that Alexander McBain, a businessman from Glengarry County, first established a lumbering and ash business at this site -- spawning the development of the settlement. Soon after McBain began his endeavors, Colonel Davidson and Alexander Ogilvie of Dundee Township built stores, asheries, and wharfs here as well. Godmanchester Village was first surveyed in 1823 and with the addition of later surveys the village was eventually laid out as 154 lots on 160 acres. The Elgin Square site of the church was first set aside by Alexander Ogilvie in 1827. By 1830 the settlement had a population of 82 people comprising 16 families. The community was made up of people with French, Irish, and Scottish heritage. A schoolhouse operated from 1829 to 1846. William Coleman was a local shoemaker. John Herrington was a local cooper. In the early 1830's, John McDonald became the most prominent figure in the community. He married the widow of Alexander McBain, purchased the local stores, purchased 950 acres of land, and in 1837 he built "Rosebank" -- the large sandstone farm house now owned and occupied by the Irving Brothers. Ironically, it was during the construction of the church that the Village of LaGuerre began its decline. What caused this? Generally, it is attributed to two reasons. One was construction of the Beauharnois Canal in 1849. The canal required that dams be built to bring up the level of the water on the lake and as a result the lower parts of the Village of LaGuerre become marshy. Residents started to relocate. The other change was the new replacement for Durham boats. Durham boats had been able to navigate many of the area's small rivers. These boats were being replaced by steam-powered vessels capable of only navigating the lake. So the wharfs of LaGuerre became useless in favour of the deeper water found less that five miles away at St. Anicet's lake shore. The buildings that made up LaGuerre Settlement were gradually abandoned, left to erode, and then to disappear, leaving only "Rosebank" and Calvin Presbyterian Church in their memory. Submitted by: Alain Chaput