History of the Church
In the mid-nineteenth century, Minto Township saw a great influx of settlers. The Catholics had been gathering for Mass in the home of John Page. THey built a log church in 1854. The church, which also served as a school house, stood on a five-acre plot known as the Catholic graveyard of Minto. Another church was built on a different site in 1858, but when the parishoners arrived for the first Mass, they found it had burned to the ground. The present St. Mary church was completed in 1864 and dedicated on February 1, 1865. Father P.S Mahuet was the first resident pastor.
The first rectory was built in 1880. In 1924 the present rectory was constructed, and the older building became a convent for the Sisters of St. Joseph, who taught in St. Mary School. The sisters resided there until 1978.
The church was partially destroyed by fire in the summer of 1902, but was rebuilt the next year. Evidence of the fire remains visible in the cellar. In 1902 the Holy Cross Cemetery was purchased by the parish.
Recent years have seen a number of developments. St. Peter Parish in Ayton again became a Mission of St. Mary in 2001. The convent was demolished in 2002. St. Mary School, built in 1953, received a new addition in 2003 which more than doubled its size. Today the school accommodates about 250 students, some of whom are bused from the Kenilworth area. When the Sacred Heart Separate School in Kenilworth closed in 2003, some of its students began to attend St. Mary’s.
St. Mary Parish treasures its parish life. One sign of their community spirit is the decision taken in 2004 to build a new family centre, that is now attached to the church and serves as a beautiful space for the parish to congregate.