Log Cabin Chronicles

Bringing a Memorial Back Home



STANSTEAD, QUEBEC | A commemorative plaque that was stolen after surviving a raging fire that destroyed the Stanstead Wesleyan Methodist Church here more than a century ago has come home.

church Diver/historian Jacques Boisvert of Magog discovered the metal plaque in 84 feet of water in Lake Memphremagog, off the northwest shore of Long Island. Investigation revealed that the 3.5 inch by 8.5 inch metal plaque had been attached to the organ that burned in the conflagration of 1883.

Stanstead Journal genealogy columnist David Lepitre, who is well-versed in local history, says the plaque was most likely stolen from the summer cottage owned by members of the Colby family, which was related by marriage to the Pierce family.

Martha Pierce Butters had donated a new organ in 1884 to replace the one that burned. It too was placed in memory of her brother, George Pierce, who had died 20 years earlier.

male trio

© 1998 John Mahoney

Diver Jacques Boisvert, Genealogist David Lepitre, and Churchman Erwin Taylor.

Lepitre feels it highly likely that family members may have taken the plaque as a momento to the cottage. The late Dolly Colby, who died just this summer, confirmed that the family cottage had indeed been burgled. The thieves, says Boisvert, may have taken the easily identifiable plaque, then dropped it into the lake.

cornerstone The plaque now has a place of honor in the current Centenary United Church's history corner, along with a minature silver trowel presented to Mrs. I. Butters in 1884 for re-laying the original cornerstone when rebuilding the large granite structure commenced.

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Copyright © 1998 John Mahoney/Log Cabin Chronicles/8.98