20 families-76 souls,
one Irish Church; Oxford, Woodstock, 1 family-1 soul; Beachville, 1
family-5 souls; Capitaine De La Revi`ere, two young ladies; Ingersoll,
10 families 34 souls; Embro, 1 family-3 souls; Markham, 1 German
This report, covering 26 townships, so widely scattered, had a population of only 412 Catholic families with 1,727 souls. When it is said that Father Wiriath visited all these people, not once, but regularly, many of them frequently, and that he certainly also passed up and down the territory in search of other scattered Catholics, one can not be surprised to learn that he could not carry on such a life for any great length of time without breaking down in health.
As the first and a very zealous missionary he deserves a more lengthy notice, the more so as his case required more serious and extended researches than that of any other of the missionaries of the district.
Rev. John Louis Wiriath was born at Rappoltsweiler, Upper Alsace, May 7, 1801. He studied in the Seminary of Versailles, near Paris, was ordained at London, Eng., in 1825, and officiated in various places in Alsace. He came to Kingston Jan. 30, 1834, and was at once sent by Bishop McDonell, of Kingston, to the Germans of this district. His Baptismal Register has not yet been discovered. At St. Agatha a number of Testimonials of baptism and marriages are preserved, written in a fine, clear hand, on small pieces of paper. These go from 1834 to 1837, and are signed by the pastor, the witnesses or the respective Godparents, sometimes also by others present at the function, all in correct English. The writer got on his track through the History of Perth County, by Mr. William Johnston, a very creditable production, by the way, in which the missionary's name is written wrong by sound as it was given by old settlers. He says that the missionary travelled alone on foot with his belongings on his back through trackless forests, across streams without bridges, through muskegs and swamps to visit the settlers of his flock from Puslinch and Guelph to Goderich, and down to Lake Erie and the Niagara River, even as far east as Markham. On one of his trips west he says be came to Downie, now Stratford, to the hut of an Irish widow, Mrs. Cassin, or Cashin. There he staid three days exercising his holy ministry while the people came flocking to him from all sides.
Then he went on his way to Goderich, accompanied for some distance by the widow's son. He arrived at Cassin's Nov. 10, 1835, and returned from Goderich late in December, when the weather was very cold and the snow deep. He was poorly clad, and never had his clothes off during this whole trip. At the widow's hut he stretched himself out before the fire in his clothes to thaw himself out while resting. From there he went south to Woodstock, etc. These trips he is said to have made regularly, how long and often is not stated (page 490). The missionary had a quasi home at New Germany and St. Agatha. The schoolhouse he mentions in New Germany was likely built while he was there, as also that at St. Agatha. Both were used for church purposes. This missionary returned to Alsace in 1837, doing missionary work on the way to New York, at Syracuse, Albany, etc.*
The Chancellor of the Diocese of Strassburg, Alsace, kindly furnished the notes and dates of this worthy man upon request. After his return to Alsace Father Wiriath again served in the Ministry in various places and had again obtained permission from his Bishop to return to Canada. So far the writer has not discovered a trace of his second presence in Canada. Perhaps he did
*See The Catholic Cyclopedia, Vol. XIV., under Syracuse.