St. Michael's, Corran Ban
St. Michael's Parish ,Corran Ban
The first settlers in Corran Ban were from Moidart, Scotland. Corran Ban got its name because when the fresh water of Winter Bay meets the salt water of the Tracadie Bay, it forms white foam, shaped like a sickle. Corran Ban is Gaelic for White Sickle. Up until 1859 all of the settlers in Grand Tracadie were Catholic. It was at this time that five protestant families settled in the Grand Tracadie area. The Church in Corran Ban, which served the Grand Tracadie area, was St. Michael's Parish.
St. Michael's was a originally the mission of St. Andrews and then later of Tracadie. The very first mass held in Grand Tracadie was celebrated at a home on the Queen's Point Road. The Priest who held this mass was Father MacEachern, later Bishop. Father MacEachern often traveled around the Island, chose a home to celebrate mass in and sent out the word as to which home the mass would be held in.
In the 1830's, Reverend John MacDonald arrived from Glasgow. Captain John MacDonald's widow gave Reverend John MacDonald space in her home, at St. John's point in Tracadie to use as a Chapel. This Chapel served the area until St. Bonaventure's was built at the head of Tracadie bay. Reverend John MacDonald succeeded Father MacEachern in serving the people of Corran Ban and Grand Tracadie. During the 1830's there was serious consideration about building a Church in the Grand Tracadie area, but it wasn't until 1882 that the idea of building a Church came to life.
Thomas Phelan became the Parish Priest in 1860, and during his final years of service he was able to see the actualization of the first church built in Corran Ban. Land for the church was donated by John James MacDonald of Tracadie and the building of the church began in 1882. It was also in 1882 when St. Michael's Parish was separated from the Tracadie Mission. The church was completed in 1884, and it measured 50 feet by 30 feet, surmounted by a tall spire. The wooden altar was built by Patrick Power and the painting done by Mr. Meikle. The altar was of Gothic style. There was also a cemetery built next to this church, which was located on the bay (east) side of the road and 200 yards north of the bridge. There was also a church hall built near the original church and cemetery.
In 1887, Father A.J MacIntyre succeeded Father Thomas Phelan of Tracadie. The present parish hall was buil in 1905 and the present rectory in 1922. It was also under Father A.J that the parish house was built, but it was in 1947 before Corran Ban had its first resident priest who was Father Leonard Ayers. Over the years the church became a victim of decay. The church had been built on low ground and so every spring they had trouble with water getting in. Eventually there was enough damage and the foundation gave way, so they decided to build a new Church.
In 1932 the new church, that still currently stands, was built. It was erected under the supervision of Father J.B MacIntyre. When the church was being built it is said that they either ran out of money, or materials, or both. So roof was built on top of the foundation in such a way that it could be raised and completed if they chose to do so in the future. This is how Corran Ban became a basement church. The new St. Michael's church was built across the road (the west side) from the original and faces the water in the Winter River. Samuel Arbing was also the stone mason and bricklayer for the foundation of this church, as he was the same man who did the stonework for St. Bonaventure's Parish (1903). Hugh Campbell and John E. Trainor were the carpenter's, among others. The parishioners also helped when they were able to by doing labor, lumber and lending their horses. Keep in mind the building of the church was a major undertaking, since everything was done without electricity. St. Michael's was built before the invention of the chainsaw, so all the cutting and excavating was done by hand and there were no bulldozers so dynamite was used to break up large stone.
The old church was demolished in the 1930's (approximately 1935). In 1949 the hall was moved across the road and placed to the west side of the new church. The hall was placed on a tile foundation with a basement. The reason they had to move the hall was so that they could widen the road and improve the pavement. Father Parnell Wood, who succeeded Father Leonard Ayers, was the Priest who supervised the movement of the hall.
Corran Ban Church has a proud history, and it still serves the families of Grand Tracadie today, under the direction of Reverend Lyndon Hogan.
The following is a list of Priests who have served the Parish of St. Michael's (from 1947 on):
Reverend Leonard Ayers 1947-1948
Reverend Parnell Wood 1948-1968
Reverend Leonard MacDonald 1968-1970
Reverend Own Sharkey 1970-1972
Reverend Edmund Roche 1972-1973
Reverend Thomas MacLellan 1973-1975
Reverend Preston Hammill 1975-1978
Reverend Edward Baird, C.S.C 1978-1979
Reverend Wendall MacIntyre 1979-1983
Reverend Harold Croken 1983-1984
Sister Rose Setter (1st ever female Administrator) 1984-1985
Reverend John Dunphy 1985-1989
Reverend Andrew MacDonald 1989-1993
Sister Rose O'Hanley (Administrator) 1993-
Reverend Lyndon Hogan Present