Fire damages Hudson’s 182-year-old church

“There's a significance to the church for us,” said Jean Sasso, a Hudson resident, after the St. James Anglican Church suffered major fire damage on Sunday in the community west of Montreal. Gareth Madoc-Jones reports.

A fire at the St. James Anglican Church in Hudson, caused major damage to the building that has been a part of the community since 1842.

The fire broke out in the church  – in the municipality west of Montreal – around 8 a.m. Sunday morning and flames spread throughout much of the building, destroying its roof and much of the interior.

“Seeing it just like a skeleton like that, it just is very difficult. But at the same time, I really am hopeful,” said Reverend Sophie Rolland who serves the St. James Church for The Anglican Parish of Vaudreuil and was present when the fire broke out.

“It got into the roof and the hardest part yesterday was to watch the smoke, because we didn’t see very much flame for several hours, but we saw the smoke sort of inch from the front of the entrance here through the hall to the church. And so for most of the day yesterday, I was really hoping that the church wouldn’t be affected.”

”We were renovating our kitchen in there to make it bring it up to code to make it more user friendly for local groups and it had been two weeks into that project,” said Tracy Gallacher, the church’s warden, adding, “it was going really well and something happened yesterday morning. Our rector found the fire. She tried to extinguish it with a fire extinguisher. It didn’t work. Then she called 911.” 

There have been no reported injuries from the fire. The Hudson Fire Department and nine other fire departments from other communities helped put out the blaze.

“We definitely ruled out criminal activity. So now we’re looking at possible accidental fire conditions, but we’re still ongoing investigation right now,” said Daniel Leblanc, fire chief for the Hudson Fire Department.

The church was built in 1842 and has mainly served the Anglophone Anglican community since then.

“I was totally overwhelmed. Lots of tears shed. It’s been in the family. My grandparents are buried here. Both sets. My great-great-grandfather and grandmother were married there. The first one’s married here in 1842,” said Rod Hodgson, a Hudson resident.

“There are many people who have a connection to the church. Maybe they don’t attend anymore, but they are posting things like their wedding pictures. My husband and I own two burial plots here, so there’s a significance to the church for us,” said Jean Sasso, another Hudson resident.

“It’s a fate of so many of these old buildings, but my ancestors were stone masons and they built it and some other churches in the area in 1842 or so,” said Larry Gray, also from Hudson.

The exact cause of the fire is not yet known, but the church’s reverend and warden say that they would like to rebuild the church and this sentiment was echoed by other locals gathered Monday morning at the site.

“The history behind this place. People being married here, buried from here. They have rentals here. They have Christmas bazaars. They have exercise classes. It’s just unbelievable what goes on here. Now, I just hope we can get rebuilt. That’s what we’re praying for and praying,” said Hodgson. 

Hudson’s Mayor Chole Hutchison took to Facebook to express her thoughts on the church fire, stating the City has been in touch with Reverend Sophie Rolland and has noted that there is the intention to rebuild whatever was destroyed.

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