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The native people of this area were first evangelized by Jesuit Missionaries from France. Their leader, Fr. St. Jean de Brebeuf, along with seven other missionaries and many native people were martyred. "The blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians."

As German speaking settlers moved into this area in the mid-1800s, their spiritual needs were cared for by Rev Caspar Matoga, SJ. As the numbers of families grew, regular Masses were celebrated at Sacred Heart in Mildmay in 1877.

The first church in "the Catholic town" of Mildmay was build in 1877, the first resident pastor was Rev. Fr. Michael Halm. The cornerstone of the present church was laid under the guidance of Rev. Rudolph Lehman on July 23, 1912. The church was dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus on November 23, 1913. Many vocations to the priesthood, sisterhood, and brotherhood where nourished by these  early pastors and sisters.



Nicholas Durrer Sr.
Balthaser Josephus 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 woodcarver.

Nicholas Durrer Jr.
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.

Walter Durrer
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 Alberta.
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.

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Settlement began in Walkerton about 1849 when the opening of the Durham Road afforded easier access to the district. In the 1850's traveling Jesuit missionaries made periodic visits to the settlers and celebrated Mass in their log homes.

In 1870 Walkerton was constituted as a mission of Formosa.


Noting the potential progressive development, Walkerton was constituted as a parish in 1872 with Rev. John Keough as pastor. Two years later in 1874 the church was build. The following parishioners figured prominently: George Giesler, Patrick Godfrey, Michael McNamara, a jeweller and manager of the telegraph office, and later customs officer, John Lambertus, Joseph Reichenbach, Alexander Hass building contractor of the church, Conrad Schnurr, Joseph Schnurr, Patrick Heffernan, a town councillor and constable, Ignatius Weiler, Louis Fisher, a butcher, Anthony O'Bright, shoemaker, Albert Batte, Ernest Schroeder, Charles Fox a jeweller , Andrew Cuneo, barber and builder of the present Cuneo block, Ferdinand Correll a brick-layer, Joseph Cosgrove, insurance agent, and Dr. Weishar.


Some of the ladies of the parish included: Mrs. Bridget Burns, Mary and Bessie McMahon, Angeline and Marie Denny, Mrs. Gilfuse, a widow, the Misses Garrow, three maiden sisters and Mary Georgen, organist and choir leader.

The first choir was composed of Mr. Georgen Sr., Matthew Georgen, the Misses Georgen, John Smith Jr., the Misses Wisser, and John Nauer.


There are many vocations that came from Sacred Heart Parish in Walkerton and surrounding areas. Vocations to the priesthood and religious life. 16 priests, 14 sisters and 1 brother.  

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