Francis Xavier Church
THE DURRER ALTARS
Nicholas Durrer (Nicholas Sr) was born in 1799 in Kerns Switzerland and died
in 1822 in Formosa Ontario.
His wife Anna Maria was
born in 1809 in Kerns Switzerland died in 1891 in Formosa Ontario.
Nicholas Sr. was a Papal
Guard in Rome before he married Anna Maria.
He was an artist and
Their son Joseph Nicholas
Durrer (Nicholas Jr.) was born in Kerns Switzerland in 1833.
Nicholas Jr and his
parents left Switzerland and immigrated to New York for a few years and
built altars in churches.
They then went to New Germany (Maryhill) Ontario.
Sometime before 1857 Nicholas Jr. married Mary Batte. (Born Sept 4,
1838 and died Oct 8, 1922 in Formosa Ont.)
In 1860 they moved to
Formosa and settled on a farm on the Elora Road.
Nicholas Jr was a wood
carver by trade
He built altars at Formosa
(intact), Walkerton (destroyed
in the infamous 1970's) , Mildmay
(1912) (all 3 intact), Teeswater
(destroyed in the infamous 1970's) and Dornoch
(1890) (one is intact), and other churches.
In 1906 Nicholas Jr died.
Nicholas and Mary had a son Walter born in 1875 in Formosa.
Walter helped Nicholas Jr build the altar in the Carlsruhe
church (1873) (intact but
painted over) -
the remnants of his bussiness card are on the back of the altar
Note: The Altar of
Sacrifice was built in his style by Darryl Diemert in 2009 - a very
talented young parishioner.
It took over
400 hours to build this one alone - ask his children.
Walter also built the altar in Dornoch
(1890) - a handwritten
inscription on the back contains his name and his profession - Altar
Builder and Photographer.
He was a photographer in Mildmay and Formosa.
In 1904 he moved to Didsbury, Alberta and set up his photography
equipment in a studio.
In 1905 Walter bought a building on the main street of Didsbury and
started a furniture studio.
At the same time he began a funeral home at the back of the building.
In 1906 Nicholas Jr died
and the St. Mary’s Kitchener (1900)
(intact) altar was not finished.
Walter came home from Alberta and finished the altar in 1907.
He had rented out his building before he came to Ontario.
In the spring of 1909 he returned
to Alberta and in 1910 he married Adella Hallet and remained in
Walter died in September of 1964 in Calgary Alberta.
Many of his descendents still live in Carrick Township - aka Formosa,
Mildmay, Carlsruhe - aka the Municipality of South Bruce.
Carlsruhe St. Francis Xavier
Dornoch St. Paul
Kitchener Our Lady of the
Seven Dolours (St. Mary's)
Mildmay Sacred Heart