History of the Diocese of Hamilton: 1850s - 1890s
Credit: Bochsler Studios Photography
St. Mary, Hepworth. A mission of St. Mary of the Assumption, Owen Sound
There was a great deal of reorganization, consolidation, and expansion during the 1850s and 1860s in order to implement the new diocesan structures. Of greatest importance was the need to obtain more priests to serve in the growing network of parishes. There was also a need for religious sisters to help found schools, hospitals and other charitable institutions that were so desperately needed by the struggling immigrant communities. By the 1870s and 1880s the diocese had expanded to its northern limit, Tobermory. Parishes would spawn mission churches, which in turn became new parishes themselves with a resident priest. This process repeated itself many times. Greatly helping in this expansion was the building of the railways throughout the diocese, which now comprised the eight counties of Haldimand, Brant, Wentworth and Halton in the south, Waterloo and Wellington in the middle, and Bruce and Grey in the north. Priests and people could now travel with ease throughout the diocese and the conveniences of modern living could be brought great distances. Thus, some very fine churches were built even in the most remote areas of the diocese.