St. Raphael's Ruins - As avid adventures with a love for spontaneity, some of our best adventures happen when we just decide to see what we can find on the side of the road when we are enroute to another location or just out and about for some random fun. That is exactly how we made our way to St. Raphael's ruins just outside of Alexandria, Ontario, Canada. Don't get me wrong, this place is less than two hours from our house, so it's been on the radar for a long time (mostly as a potential photoshoot location), but somehow it just never quite made it onto the list of day trips. Just recently, while already out on a delivery job, we decided to make an adventure day of it and finally stopped in to see the ruins.
If you do your research, you'll see that St. Raphael's Ruins is steeped in history, playing an important roll for settlers of early Canada. It was even designated a National Historic Site in 1999! We, due to the nature of our surprise adventure, did not do our research ahead of time and were delighted to find a beautifully maintained ruin with a variety of interpretive panels on the grounds to tell us about the history of the site.We spent some time exploring the grounds - reading all of the interpretive plaques, wandering the cemetery, and taking in the ruins from the outside against the backdrop of a stormy sky in the distance.
Walking into the ruins themselves was breathtaking, to say the least. Although the original church was consumed by a fire of natural origins in 1970, the remaining stone structure, which was later stabilized by the Ontario Heritage Foundation, is truly a sight to behold. Towering walls, beautiful curves, and old stone steps are just some of what will greet you at this unique roadside stop.
The gates of St. Raphael's Ruins are generally open seven days a week during the summer months, with a curator on site in July and August. If you'd like to make the most of your trip, be sure to check their website below for hours, which may vary due to pandemic protocols. Admission to the site it free, but donations are accepted and put toward the maintenance and restoration of the space.
St. Raphael's Ruins National Historic Site (saintraphaelsruins.com)
So, the next time you find yourself in the Glengarry Region, don't miss this beautiful historic site - a stunning, well-maintained piece of local history. You can make it a homeschool history lesson, bring your camera for some epic selfies, or simply bask in the spiritual energy of the space. Whatever you decide, St. Raphael's won't disappoint!
"St. Raphael's Ruins are located in South Glengarry on County Road 18 (The King's Road). It is situated approximately 25 minutes east of Cornwall, 20 minutes south of Alexandria and 15 minutes north of Lancaster. The ruins are an easy day-trip from either Ottawa or Montreal (about an hour's drive)."
19998 County Rd 18,
Williamstown, ON K0C 2J0