It is very hard to accept, much less celebrate, endings. At a time when this congregation is coming to terms with the closing of this parish, I thought I would tell you how my own history is linked with this parish. The land, where the church is located, used to belong to my great- grandfather. It is a story of work and faith.
In 1910, my great grandfather, George Smyth, had a dream to open a dairy farm on Cassells Street in North Bay. He drove his cattle from his farm near Eagle Lake, South River on the two-day trip. He knew what it was like to have hopes, dreams, sadness, and loss. He married his first wife, my great grandmother, Fannie Gadsby in 1886. Fannie died in 1893. The family moved to Eagle Lake. His next wife died in childbirth. His third wife set-up and ran the home on Cassell Street. My Dad, Sam Brimacombe, lived with them from 1938-39 while he attended Normal School. My dad spoke kindly of his grandfather who died in 1941. I often thought about finding the site of the Maple Leaf Dairy. As a young girl, I remember Dad speaking of the farm on Castle Street. I thought it would be wonderful to live on a street named Castle.
A few years ago, Erin Tayler helped introduce The Catechesis of The Good Shepherd to the North Bay Parishes. Msgr. Tramontini and Fr. Peter Moher invited me to attend some initiatives to encourage families and adults to get involved, train, and open the atrium center for children. The pastors in North Bay decided to start the children’s atrium in the rectory basement of Corpus Christi Parish. I was just so thrilled to be teaching the course, it did not matter to me where they put us. We started planning for the atrium and began the adult formation process to prepare adults to work with the children.
By Easter 2007, I was feeling overburdened and tired. In frustration, I said to God, “Show me one reason why I should keep on working so hard”. The next day while I was looking through some of my late Dad’s papers, I came across the picture of the house shown on this page. Written on the back was “George Smyth, Cassells Street”. I was shocked and laughed at how I had remembered the street of the dairy farm as Castle Street instead of Cassells Street. I phoned my 80-year-old Aunt Becky in Ottawa and asked her if her grandfather’s dairy farm was on the same street as Corpus Christi Parish. She told me that it was the exact same property. The property had been sold to the Catholic Church after her grandmother died. That next summer when my aunt visited us at Lake Bernard, Sundridge, we drove to North Bay. Becky toured me around Corpus Christi Parish pointing out the location of the barns, gardens, and the house. We went into the rectory basement and the children’s atrium. She marveled at the transformation. The dreams and hopes of my great grandfather had become the home for my dreams and passion for children and the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. I wondered aloud what my great grandfather would think of what we did to his basement. My aunt answered,” he would be pleased and grandma would expect us to keep her basement clean and neat!
Many people, my ancestors and the families of this parish, will always have a place on Cassells Street. God has walked with us all and will continue to be with us as we move forward. Our hope, dreams, and prayers carry on. Endings are the start of new beginnings. May the hard work of my ancestors and your parishioners continue to be an example to the community and to the new tenants. May they keep this home clean and neat!