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Visiting Sainte-Justine-de-Newton: An Octagonal Tower at a Church Building Dating From 1866

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Photo of the church and the former presbytery of the municipality of Sainte-Justine de Newton.

Photo of the church and the former presbytery of the municipality of Sainte-Justine de Newton.

On the surface, a tranquil, strongly Francophone locality

With an octagonal tower which dominates the municipality's skyline, the church of Sainte-Justine-de-Newton dates from 1866. Executed in stone, the building exhibits Gothic features such as pointed window arching, but is not otherwise strongly Gothic to the extent of including such features as flying buttresses and pinnacles.

Situated in Vaudreuil-Soulanges regional municipality, Sainte-Justine-de Newton is historically interesting because it was the only municipality in what is now Vaudreuil-Soulanges not to be settled according to the French seigneurie system. Interestingly, although the municipality is comprised overwhelmingly of Francophone inhabitants, the word 'Newton' in its name is said to refer to Newton Abbot in Devon, England (1).

Thus, on the surface with a typically French parish church and with an overwhelming proportion of Francophone inhabitants, Sainte-Justine is historically within a transitional area in which the Anglophone influences from the former nearby Haut-Canada / Upper Canada (now Ontario) were previously greater than they are now.

Some areas of Quebec are characterized by increasing Anglophone influences, or, at least, the perception that this is the case is often talked about in political circles (2).

But Sainte-Justine-de-Newton, in fact, is a locality where — linguistically speaking — the opposite has been the case, historically. As in the past, so today Sainte-Justine-de-Newton is strongly agricultural in its economic activities. In common with other rural localities, its demographics are characterized by a somewhat ageing population. An examination of the locality's demographics thus reveal great contrasts in their dynamics, compared with others such as those of Montreal, demonstrating that Vaudreuil-Soulanges is indeed a regional municipality with a character very much of its own, despite its proximity both to the Montreal area and to the Province of Ontario.

December 17, 2020


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(1) Some of the early settlers were Scottish, despite Saint-Justine now being overwhelmingly Francophone.

(2) The rather strong perception that immigrants to Quebec tend to prefer to use English rather than French — particularly in the Montreal area — forms part of the complexity of the way language issues are sometimes discussed in Quebec, often with a great degree of vehemence.

Some sourcing: Wikipedia

Also worth seeing

Coteau-du-Lac (distance: 24.5 kilometres); military canal fortifications and remains, dating from the 18th century, form a Lieu historique national du Canada / National Historic Site of Canada.

Montréal (distance: 89.7 kilometres) The architectural and cultural attractions of Montreal are too numerous to mention here, but of special note, among many others, are the domed Bonsecours Market (Marché Bonsecours), dating from 1847, which was a venue used to house the Parliament of United Canada, prior to Confederation. The Notre-Dame Basilica (Basilique Notre-Dame de Montréal ) was built mainly between 1824 and 1829; many Montrealers attend annual performances of Handel's 'Messiah' there. The Olympic Stadium (Stade Olympique) in the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve district, used for the 1976 Olympics, has the world's tallest inclined tower, at 175 metres.


How to get there: Sainte-Justine-de-Newton may be reached via Autoroute 40 and Route 325 from Montréal. Air Canada flies to Montreal (Aéroport international Pierre-Elliott-Trudeau de Montréal; distance from Sainte-Justine-du-Newton: 73.7 kilometres) from Toronto-Pearson, and from New York-Newark and New York-La Guardia, with wide connections. A number of car rental companies offer service at Montreal-Trudeau airport. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

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