A Stroll along Danville’s Main Street
May 6th, 2020
Contributed by Allisha Hampton Pettigrew, Bishop’s University History student
Danville owes its beginnings to Simeon Flint who settled in the area in 1807 and named the town “Danville” after his former home in New England: Danville, Vermont. Early on, this rural town relied on various mills such as sawmills and potato farms to provide work for the people living there. Other industries were gradually established, such as like the furniture maker, James Boutelle, the Dominion Clothes Pin Company, as well as the Danville Chair Specialty Company, which was founded in 1910 and offered work to over 80 people.
At the turn of the century, Danville saw the rise in mining for asbestos in the next town over. As a result, Danville shifted to a residential area for many miners could live and the town square was home to many small shops where people could bustle in and out of, similar to how it is today.
Even though most of those living in Danville today travel to other towns nearby for work or are farmers, the Square and surrounding commercial area remain a core part of the community. Every autumn, the town has an art symposium where many local artists set up their artwork in buildings throughout the town for people to come visit. It provides a great way for the artists to become known throughout the town and surrounding areas.
The Danville Square is now home to small local stores and restaurants and La Mante du Carré is a café that also acts as public market where local artisans may sell their products, such as fruits and vegetables from local farms, bread, honey, pottery, plants and so many other items. The Danville Square has changed and adapted over the years to benefit the people of the town but the square still remains the heart of the town.
On the edge of the square in Danville is Trinity United Church. It was built in 1875 and remains as one of the oldest churches in Danville. There have been numerous churches in Danville: the Presbyterian church no longer in practice has been turned into a restaurant, Le Temps des Cerises, and the Adventist church was turned into a private home. Trinity United Church however is still in operation.
The Congregational minister Ammi J. Parker held the first services at the school and, in 1836, a Congregational church was built on the very same spot as the present location of Trinity United Church. In 1875, the church was rebuilt and is the same one that currently stands there to this day. Trinity United Church’s steeple is one that is easily recognized within the town and the surrounding areas; it sticks out above the other buildings and the structure has remained the same as it was when it was first built.
Trinity United Church’s activities have also remained mostly the same. The Church hosts a Sunday School where children from the area may come to learn more about the religion. The Church also hosts a number of different activities for its members and the community such as suppers, games of military whist and a Christmas play. Despite a mostly French population in the area, there is still a wide English following within the Church. English and French people from Danville and surrounding areas attend the services. Since Danville is home to quite a few churches, church bells can be heard ringing throughout the town. The steadfast presence of Trinity United Church as well as its activities serve as a comfort within a world that is always moving.