Ontario's Historical Plaques 

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The Cowley Fathers at Bracebridge

The Cowley Fathers at Bracebridge

Photos by contributor Brian Bockus - Posted July, 2017

The Cowley Fathers at Bracebridge

Plaque Location

The District of Muskoka
The Town of Bracebridge
On Sadler Drive north of Maple Street
across from Palmer Crescent

Coordinates: N 45 02.970 W 79 18.284


Plaque Text

The Society of Saint John the Evangelist was founded by an Anglican priest at Cowley, England in 1866. Bound by vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, members of the order devote their lives to prayer and community service. The Society began its ministry in Canada in 1927 when three Cowley Fathers arrived in Emsdale to take charge of the scattered Anglican missions in Muskoka. They established a monastery in Bracebridge the following year. At a time when government social programs were limited, the Cowley Fathers provided essential humanitarian services as well as spiritual enrichment to Muskoka communities. Declining membership led to their withdrawal from the region in 1983.



Bracebridge Plaques

Here are the visitors' comments for this page.

> Posted January 16, 2017
St. James Gravenhurst is celebrating their 150th year in ministry at Gravenhurst. Rev. John (Pappy) Watson a minister during the 1950's studied under the Cowley Fathers and when he took over the charge of St. James he formed a huge youth group which was the Anglican Young Peoples, or AYPA. Many of the kids were from other faiths in town but they loved Pappy as a fatherhead. He arranged trips for them to Toronto and to visit the Cowley fathers where he had begun his ministry and studied under the S.S.J.E. During his time as priest of St. James his dream was to make a Chapel, which we call the Chapel of Transfiguration and make the alter an exact replica of the one that was at the Cowley Fathers church in Bracebridge and it was built and consecrated after Pappy had left for his next charge. We still have this wonderful Chapel today. One of the town boys who is now 83 told me that when Pappy took the boys up to the S.S.J.E. they used to call it the "Home for unwed fathers" as a joke.
Carol Fraser, Deputy People's Warden, St. James Anglican Church Gravenhurst. pfraser@csolve.net

> Posted December 12, 2016
I would love to obtain some information on the building of the Chapel. I was told that I live on the property from where the stone was quarried yet the only information or even pictures state that the Monastery was established, and nothing on when it was built, and who built it, or where the stone came from. Any photos would greatly be appreciated!
Yours very truly, Shelagh Lippay shelaghlippay1@icloud.com

> Posted March 27, 2014
I loved to visit the Cowley Fathers monastery. When I was confirmed in the Gravenhurst church my Mother took me up to Bracebridge and bought me a beautiful crucifix. What a wonderful experience to be there.
Evelyn Tirelli Goldsmith

> Posted August 8, 2013
The Cowley Fathers ministered in the Muskoka area of Northern Ontario. They ministered at St. Mary's Anglican Church around the Mary Lake Area. They visited the church faithfully every Sunday. My husband fondly remembered them when their family lived there from the 1930-1940. (His mother played the church organ at the Sunday services.) There was one particular priest who ministered that had a mound of white hair and my husband fondly remembered him, with a childlike memory as "having the appearance of what God must look like!" They did wonderful, memorable work particularly in that area.

> Posted July 5, 2011
Fascinating to learn about as my relatives had the Cowley Fathers go into their school to preach the gospel.

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